As part of my preparation for the “opportunity-I’m-not-still-not-talking-about”, I was provided an array of ‘assignments’. The purpose of this particular one: encourage deeper reflection about being your Momma from so far away. (As if I need any?)
The query was simple, “A bereaved mother is….”. The question immediately irritated me. Perhaps because someone so revered in the realm of documentary styles and genres: grief, loss, and bereavement being no exception – would ask something so damn dumb. As the seconds ticked by, I pulled out my Warrior-side and began to generate an answer. It’s actually a non-answer; which, in my opinion, is even more fitting. Even better news: it turns out Momma is still spicy enough to accomplish something – merely for the sake of conquering a challenge.
I quickly determined the definition must lend itself to be ever-evolving. It must also allow for the flexibility to reflect the day, hour, or moment I just survived; or the particular soft wave of grief I am currently riding.
A bereaved mother is…
…the woman who has felt pain in every single cell in her body. Literally, from the tips of her toes to the ends of her hair. The pain is indescribably and mercilessly physical.
…the woman who shies away from carrying bags of groceries, or laundry baskets against her chest – especially with the aide of her hip; as doing so most always morphs the bundle into the precise size and weight of her phantom son.
…the woman whose knees have buckled when hearing the sounds of little boys, calling out: “Mommy.” “Mommy!” “Mommy?”…a mommy who will tuck her child into bed – while she will stand, tears falling atop the unused changing table, in her son’s, otherwise barren bedroom.
…the woman whose primal mourning, done only when alone, is still shocked & frightened by the supernatural sound of this mourning. As it serves as a reminder that she is but a wild animal – capable and willing to do anything to protect her young, as well as the fact that she failed miserably at the task.
…the woman entrapped by grief’s incessant state of craze, finds herself pacing the hallways late at night: unable to focus long enough to string two sentences together: intolerant of music, t.v.’s, or voices projecting “too loudly”: sensitive to lights: irritated by a host of other benign stimuli.
…the woman who has accepted that no form of self-induced suffering will suffice in filling the chasm of her loss. Instead she finds herself Googling “…how to construct time-machines.” In moments of lucidness (which sometimes follow) she realizes the depths of her desperation. Instead, she Googles: “…how to initiate the process of self-institutionalization.”
…the woman who wills herself to trade places with her dead child, a hundred times a day – and two hundred times a night. But continues to awaken to a new sunrise – almost always wishing she hadn’t.
…the woman who gives extra generous tips, extra gentle eye contact, extra caring smiles… to the young boy who crosses her path. Despite her keen awareness that he is someone else’s son, she can’t help but pretend – if only for a fleeing moment – that he is her own.
…the woman who knows how to ingest just enough shallow breathes, to keep from throwing up – until she makes it home.
…the woman who refuses to hold another baby – though her arms ache from emptiness – because she is adamant that the last baby she’ll ever hold, will be her own son.
…the woman who wishes she knew it was not an eye infection, or the ‘wrong’ baby formula – just a little sooner.
…the woman who will always, always be consumed with guilt – no matter how many people tell her it wasn’t her fault.
…the woman who will love her sweet boy forever and always…and then a little bit longer.
A bereaved mother is the woman who has a story about a bittersweet survival that does not include a fallacious or contrived “end” to her grief after a prescribed six month period. Her story is a true story of anguish – absent the “happy” ending. Not to say, at some point, she won’t be capable of pure love and joy and contentment. Alas, there is no bypassing the tortures caused by the death of her beloved son. The effects of his absence are perennial, and relentless; the aches – much deeper than the unsuspecting world believes.
Yes, Paxton. Cancer came along and stole everything from us. Everything. The wreckage which has ensued is so grim, I cannot yet begin to speak of it.
However, bereavement, grief, a parallel universe…another lifetime, have nothing to do with how I define the distinct honor of being your Momma. I am the only woman in the world who is lucky enough to be your Momma. Plain and simple: I am your Momma; you are my son. Our bond is far stronger than the grips of cancer…our love is far deeper than the depths of grief.
I will love you forever, and ever…and, then a little bit longer.
Stay with me, Sweet Boy.