Saturday, November 3, 2012


Sometimes I can't sleep.

Eyes wide, curled around babies, holding my breath to hear whispers of theirs. Soaking in heartbeats, the tugs on my hair, their reassuring warmth and their beingness here. I love them so hard it grips my throat in ice and my heart stops. My love is wonder and joy and gratitude, it is these filmy flashing breathless nights and the photo-snapped days, the soft milky mornings, the proffered snacks and blonde heads that smell like sunshine, the marvel - and the terrible, terrible fear. The disbelief.

How do I have this? What if I lose it? 

Sometimes I can't sleep.

I'm thinking of towers and planes and storms, and car accidents, flames in the snow, sirens. I'm thinking of fatal diseases and falling bookshelves, of house fires, of accidents with knives and guns and fridges and clothes dryers, of SIDS, of infants abandoned and left to starve and the baby girls in China with pins stabbed through their silky fontanelles, the fontanelles they share in common with my own baby girl. I'm thinking of the children on the news, throats slit by their nanny, their mother who came home and found them, clutching her last living baby and being led away, my brain inventing her screams and playing them on repeat, hour after hour through the night, the gut-wrenching, mind-numbing horror. I can't even breathe, let alone sleep. I am paralyzed. It is too much. I am too little.

Mothers, how do we do this? How do we live, in face of the fear, in face of the possibility? What if we love? What if we lose? Surely life isn't benevolent enough that it will let us be this happy forever - will it? How can we face each day knowing it may be our last, or their last - and live it anyway?

To love is to be brave. Motherhood is courage. Heck, it is distilled courage. It is plunging in and embracing the fear, charging in like a lion and swallowing it whole, acknowledging our fragility, yet being strong; it is having faith in that strength, trusting that it will be there when we need it. Having faith in our love and trusting that it will be there when we need it. It is knowing that we are the luckiest beings in the whole world, to have this love, and that nothing - nothing, not even death - can take it from us. That what we carry within us now we will carry within us always, no matter what shape the future takes, and that we will be okay.

Sometimes I can't sleep. But when the fear grips me hard, when it crushes my organs and clutches my sinews, when I start counting the heartbeats and listening to breaths, I must remind myself: I can do this. I can love these beings with everything I have; I don't have to hold back for fear that I will lose it. If nothing else, I will always, always have this love. I am so, so thankful for what I have been given, even if I don't have the substance of it, as it is now, forever. I can't control what happens to me, and to them, but I can control how I live the life I've been given. For now, I close my eyes and I snuggle my babies.

Courage, mamas.

You've come far, and though you're far from the end
You don't mind where you are, 'cause you know where you've been...

When all of your tears dry, let your troubles roll by

1 comment:

  1. this one brought tears to my eyes, Sarah. your written words are a gift. love you lots : ) ~Lei