I woke up this morning around 5am and rested my hand on what I thought was Ada’s stomach. It felt cold (she runs warm) and I couldn’t feel the gentle rise and fall of her breath. In an instant, ice cold panic ran through me. I had fallen asleep with fear in my heart – the fear of losing her too – and for a few seconds I thought I’d called that fear into reality.
Within moments I realized it was her back I was touching and she was fine. I, however, am not. My rational mind understands that I am afraid of an even bigger loss, that after having one child taken from me, the other has become infinitely more precious. I know that my three year old is not a newborn and we are long past those sleepless nights where I watched her chest rise and fall, only half-sleeping to make sure she made it through ’til morning. I also understand that after three weeks of going to bed not knowing what the night would bring, the fear I was living with has been transferred to something – someone – else. Yes I understand all these things but they don’t make my heart hurt any less.
In some ways it feels easier to worry about possibilities than to fully exist in my current reality. My brain gets all muddled. What if by being afraid of losing Ada I call that into my life (Law of Attraction gone horrifyingly wrong)? What if I don’t learn the lessons I’m supposed to learn from this grief and so more people I love are taken from me until I finally get it? What if I’m not grieving properly? Will life simply hand me more pain? The loop of fear is endless and I know I need help with it.
Luckily I have help and I started reaching out for it today. I know I need safe places to begin the process of cracking open and letting pain out and light in. Our current house is too small for privacy and Ada is unwilling to leave without me, or her daddy, so I have only brief moments of letting tears flow quietly. It’s not enough. I know it and it’s part of what’s keeping the fear alive.
Ada got scared tonight. We were watching a movie about animals and over the course of 45 minutes saw a wolf take down a baby caribou, then a cheetah chase a gazelle, then lions attack an elephant. We talked through it and she seemed okay, then finally said she didn’t want to watch anymore. I got up from the couch to go into the kitchen and even though I was still within sight, she sobbed, terrified. I held her, told her I understood that life has been sad and a little scary lately and reassured her that we are all going to be okay. She asked me if I was bleeding. We talked about what happened with my body, with her brother, with what’s happening now. She cried for her daddy, who has been out of town every week for the last nine and has two more weeks to go before he can spend more than a couple of days with us. She cried about the fact that on three different mornings, she woke up and neither of us were there.
She is so perceptive, so sensitive, so strong. I know we’ve given her a solid base – she knows she’s loved and the world is mostly safe. I also know the last few months have shaken her, as they have me. I ache for what we’ve all lost in this – a child, hopes, dreams, innocence.
I am finally, for the first time in my life, beginning to recognize how incredibly strong I am. I just wish it could have been different, somehow. It isn’t. Life goes on.