Every day, someone asks me, “How are you?” It’s a weird way people in our culture say, “Hi”. Because they don’t REALLY want to know how the person they ask, in passing, is doing. We are Americans. We are far too self-absorbed with our own problems, own achievements, own goals, and our never-ending “To Do” lists, to give a real shit about someone else’s world. Every so often, someone asks me, with sincerity in their voice and a pause in their gaze, “How are you doing?” They actually want an answer. Or, at least they think they want an answer. I love those kind people for remembering, recognizing, knowing, I am still not ‘okay’. Nonetheless, I always provide the only answer that efficiently stops them from prodding further into my sacred space. “I’m fine.” Given the strength, my authentic reply would be far, far different. Yet, as it turns out, the truth makes people uncomfortable anyway. Because people don’t like when I say, “Well, I have to make a conscious choice to continue to fight this fight every single day. No matter what. Every.day.is.a.fight.” If I spent the rest of my life trying to explain how many break-my-already-broken-heart-scenarios I encounter every day, I wouldn’t be able to convey the depths or breadth of the grief which consumes me.
I continue to fight this fight despite my fear, despite my second guessing, despite my broken heart. I carry on despite the fact that my heart will never be unbroken. I venture into the world despite the flashbacks and panic attacks-drenched-in-sweat that still wake me up in the middle of the night. I execute daily functions, sometimes mimicking those of a normal person with a normal life, despite the ache of my empty arms – – still searching, pleading, begging to be filled with the only child who can gild the cracks of my broken heart. I attempt to nurture friendships and relationships, despite the fact that I’m not sure I can ever trust anyone or anything ever, ever again. I get out of bed each morning, despite the fact that I will never be able to change the outcome. I do this all despite the reality that all I can really do – is hope…hope that somehow, someway, we will be back together again.
I make the choice to carry on in this fight, because I am the Momma of the bravest boy in all the land. And, what kind of Momma would I be, if not merely a sorry excuse of one, if I cut and ran in the other direction? Told myself the death of my only child, at the age of 20 weeks old, was “…meant to be”? Took the easy way out? Laid down and threw up a white flag? You, Paxton Bowe, are exquistely brave. You are the reason, the only reason, I fight this fight for another day.
It is often said, “…in broken places is where true strength lies”. In other words, where one is cracked wide open is where she is strongest. After all, the cracks are where the light shines through. That being said, it is within my torn, tattered and broken heart that my Momma Courage roars loudest – even when it’s only whispering, or barely breathing in between choking sobs. The courage that resides in the cracks does so, because you make it possible.
Even in the whispers of the night, from the trenches of my tear-soaked pillow, I feel your courage channeling through my veins. Even when I feel like I’ll never make it another step forward, your courage gently pushes me onwards. When sheer fear is overtaking my entire body, your courage calms my soul. And when I can barely speak because terror has suffocated the words and clamped my vocal cords – your courage settles my heart. I am able to roar with the fierce tender love that is quintessentially ‘mother’ – because you. are. my. son.
Despite the odds – I choose to fight. Despite the risks, I choose to let my heart beat to the drum of hope and love; even though the clanging of fear and despair oft rings louder and truer.
Diddy, I wish I could guarantee you that someday I am going to stop having to the urge to give up the fight. But you and I both know there are no guarantees in life. There is only now.
And, for today, I’ve got this. Because you are mine. And, that is all I will ever really need in this world.
Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for showing me the epitome of true courage and teaching me the meaning of unconditional love.
Stay with me, Sweet Boy.