What is this life all about? Sometimes in the night I feel so frightened, thinking this can all be taken away. God, Nova and Rowan—I love them so much. And yet people all over the world love their children and sometimes those children die. Leif was on Facebook, looking at some photos of an old classmate. It showed her in the early 80s, holding a baby about Nova’s age, and a young man beside her. They were both looking down at the child. The caption showed their names, and besides both the child and the man it showed the years they lived, with “(deceased)” next to each one. The baby lived to be about 4 months.
And looking at a picture like that, you think, how awful. How does anyone live through that? Later pictures of this classmate show her with her pets, as though she never married again and never had any other children. A possible life, forever altered and gone.
It is natural for a parent to worry, to feel your heart wrench at these stories. And yet, I am also afraid to voice those fears, as though to speak of it might bring such a reality to me. Even my own death seems like it would be a horrible catastrophe, not because my own life is that important, but because to take a mother away from her children hurts those children more than anything else. Worrying about it certainly doesn’t help—after all, no amount of thinking about the worst could actually prepare you for the worst.
But I am so happy right now. Is that part of being human, the fear of punishment when things go too well? I look at Nova and Rowan and am amazed and grateful that I got two—two! great kids. Nova coos and gurgles and kicks, so full of life, so ready to get on with it and explore. Her bright eyes are like a starry sky. She is wonderful, a joy, her smiles in the morning completely authentic and real before she learns pretense. And I love to watch Rowan paint and listen to her stories, which become more elaborate every day. Yesterday, she did a painting that was like a small novella. There was a whole backstory, where a man got into a fight and a knife went into his heart, and the princess who loved him cried until there was a river of her tears. See? They’re great!
And then I think back into my own small experience of pain, when the man I loved no longer loved me (sounds melodramatic, but this is true). It took me a long time to stop crying, to stop wondering why it worked at one point and then no longer did, and I wondered if I would have been better off if it had never happened. But as time went by, I realized that for all the pain at the ending, there had been a lot of lovely things during, and overall the positive effect was more than the negative. And so I try to enjoy all the good things in my life now, so even if something bad did happen, there would be more good things to remember than bad. Would I really prefer that these days never happened if they ended prematurely? All things end, eventually. Rowan as a baby is gone, forever. She was a cute baby, fun and smiles, very much like Nova. But the baby had to disappear for the child to come forward. And each stage has been as great, or better, than the last.
And this little gurgling, wiggly version of Nova will disappear too one day. I can’t fast forward her face in my mind, I can’t envision yet what she will be. But these are golden days, when she looks at me with love and with need (because the two are still the same for her), when her soft weight is so much a part of my arm or my lap, when her hair is only peach fuzz save the old man bald spot on the back of her head. She is my baby, once physically part of me, now growing apart from me, but slowly.
When Rowan was born, it was like a song in my heart, and now there are two. Since I don’t know what could happen, all I can do is love them as much as I possibly can, and prepare them for life as best as I know how.