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Falling: A Mother's Grief for Her Child

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The other night, I was open and vulnerable with someone. That’s so hard to do intimately now, well, always, but especially now, in a more honest, straightforward way. Later on, I heard a Joni Mitchell song, “Both Sides Now.” It made me think of my daughter, Bella. And just like that, another layer flew off like a hummingbird taking flight. That layer — because there are so many, so distinct — left me on the floor, a place I am so intimate with in these moments with her. It continuously amazes me, the difference between the intellectual and feeling body. I realize that for most of my life, I reside in the intellectual one. It’s much safer. This grief though, with this little girl, sheds that intellect, laughs at it with its raw innocence, gets to the heart of the matter.

This evening’s episode was how I was never going to hold my child again. You wonder, wow, two-plus years later, she is getting this? Keep in mind how much I am constantly processing on that intellectual level. I walk myself through the many things I “feel” and perhaps “touch” on those feelings. A little. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes, when I actually feel them in my body, it’s a flood. It is indeed the overwhelming wave that people speak of with grief. This one was a sneaker wave, with a vicious undertow that pulled me down and under.

The bond between a mother and child is incomprehensible. When this magical, mind-numbing process occurs, this being grows inside you — this being who will breathe and be their own person. That being rips out of you, looks in your eyes, and that bond is solidified. There are so many times when you hold your child. You do not even think about it, unless. Unless that child is no longer there. Unless the last time you held that child, she was cold, no longer in her body, cleaned and prepared by a stranger in the clothes and jewelry you picked out for her. You have memories. That’s what you have to work with now. So when the “knowing” comes and slams into your body that you will never hold that life again, the floor is there once again to hold you from going into the abyss you feel yourself sinking into. The floor pools the tears and snot pouring out of you. The walls barely contain the wails and screams no human should have to emit.

That bond is never broken, you see. That bond is weaved within the fabric of my cells. So to rip her physically away from me, you rip the fabric of my being. That fabric doesn’t break, per se, yet those cries are the pain that ensues from trying to break it away. Those cries are the result of the knowing, the remembering of every day you had with that life, your child, the first breath she took, and that last memory of her cold and lifeless body. The vast difference.

That remembering never stops. Not for a moment. Different memories play in the background at all times, ready to be pulled to the conscious at beckon call. Sometimes they come when you least expect it. The intellectual does its best to compartmentalize it all, create a buffer zone around it. Every once in a while, though, that “feeling” aspect comes in, that vault-door to it opens, even a bit, and the novacaine buffer wears off in an instant. And you are left there, falling.

Originally published: October 27, 2016
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