This is to you mom.
I love you more than life itself.
You are the best mom ever
and when I say ever
I mean ever
I mean ever
Josh had written me this note, folded in into a tiny pocket that contained a photograph of us together that he'd found in an old album. Most every mother I know would save such a tender memento. Many would have a special place in their homes for such exceptional things for their children's children, so that in two decades they can narrate each treasure, reconstruct and reminisce a childhood past.
Most mothers do not know what I know. They do not know the secret.
So, I took the sweet note and put it into a large storage box, my place for exceptional memories, that holds my children's cherished nuggets. And while exploring amongst the many things in my place of memories, I realized that I saved more than the average mother. I even saved the word "love" scrawled on a tiny corner of a paper napkin, with a red, quasi-heart shape drawn by Josh at age three with a backward "L" and an "E" that resembled his age at the time. I saved every tooth. Every photograph. Every expression of love and every piece of art. I stockpile and hoard memories like a bereaved mother.
I do not save only for their future. I save also for the what ifs; that one in twenty-thousandth chance that I will lose one of my other children to death. It seems unfair to live in constant awareness of life's fragility. I wish I did not know the secret. I wish I'd never been shown. Yet, I do know. I am aware, and I cannot feign ignorance.
I know that you do not forgive yourself easily when a child dies.
I know that no alcohol, no pill, no distractions, and no book can cure the pain.
I know that children can and do die, and that Death is a cruel and unforgiving victor.
I know that there are no guarantees, and that control is an illusion.
I know that good, competent mothers sometimes lose their children, while unloving, neglectful "mothers" sometimes get to keep theirs.
I know that one day, one year, ten years, twenty years, and fifty years is never enough time with your child.
I know that there is no accepted trade, nothing you can barter, to renegotiate your child back to life, not even offering yourself instead.
I know the secret that life goes on, but not really.
So day-by-day, I seek to live in the moment. I feel compelled to save, cherish, hold, adore, and express, wanting no regrets that accompany not saying that which needed saying and not having enough memories. After all, what's a grieving mother to do with such a burdening secret, such a recondite reality? That is, allow it to help me love more profoundly and surrender to the awareness that each moment, every breath, may be the last.