When the light goes off and my head rests on my pillow, I pray for the health and safety of my children and grandchildren. If I am wakeful I say each name. For now you are on the top of my list every night. As always, I want to protect you.
But I have a vivid memory. You are four years old and we are at the park. You are running through the grass in a constant race to reach your sister. Your round face is alight with pleasure at being free. In rhythm with her you tumble down the gentle hill, rolling and somersaulting like a puppy let loose from its pen.
“Ooooowwww!” your wail rises to the trees. Anguish tears at your child voice to create a sound of mixed rage, surprise and anguish. You run to me. Your face is twisted and red like an apoplectic old man. “A yellow caterpillar bit me,” you sob.
Helpless, I sob with you.
As I lie here in bed, I grieve. Not because I think that you are going to die, or that you are deathly ill. I am grieving because, once more, I am unable to protect you – from the sorrow at hearing your diagnosis; from the fear and uncertainty; or from the realization that you are not “bullet-proof and invincible”.
I want to believe my self-perpetuated myth that I can protect my children. Maybe this time I can do it! Mentally, I chain my feet and hands in order not to jump in my car and rush to you.
I imagine myself as a gigantic omnipresent MOTHER in your life. I see her (me) as a traffic cop waving white-gloved hands. “Nope! Stay back pain.” “Sorry, danger, you can’t come through right now…my son is passing.” She would wrap herself like cotton wool around you and shield you from all physical and emotional bumps and bruises.
Comical? Yes. And, perhaps a bit sad. But my feelings for you are the same now as when you were born. I share your joy and your pain equally. I live it.
My heart is always with you. My faith is with you, too.