>> Monday, May 30, 2011
It's 10pm on Memorial Day. I should be drifting off in clean sheets, breeze dancing through the open window, but instead I can't sleep, a ball of anxiety settled into the base of my belly.
It's illogical, irrational, unreasonable, but I sit with a dreaded feeling that something bad is going to happen to my kids. I realize how dramatic it sounds, how silly and even sort of crazy it is, but undefined thoughts and worries swirl around and mash up into a nebulous ball of yuck, and here I sit.
It's the tornadoes ravaging towns and families, it's wars raging in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq. I think of the mothers. I think of them all -- all who are touched -- but it's the mothers who spring to the forefront of my mind - the mothers trying to comfort through the storm, the bombs, the fear. The mothers whose lands are ravaged and war-torn, the mothers whose sons and daughters fly off to combat, the mothers of the innocent and the guilty, the mothers of the fallen and the fighting, the hungry and the hurting.
I feel too lucky. And my naivety has worn thin; I know we are not immune to pain or tragedy. I feel simultaneously lucky and guilty. Who am I to sleep soundly in my comfortable house when storms and bombs rip families and life apart?
I can't keep them safe. It's not in my hands. I think of them growing and gone, on their own and me giving it up, giving it up to God and fate and prayers for good choices. I remember my mother worrying when we were late for curfew as teenagers, when we didn't call and she worried to the point of feeling sick to her stomach that we were "dead in a ditch". And she did - she held those fears in the pit of her stomach and the back of her brain, and really, she probably still does. I rolled my eyes then but I get it now. I get it now.
Today I couldn't find Eli. We were visiting friends, and hoards of children and several adults were sprawled out and filtering in and out of their beautiful home, wandering the property, coming and going. I could hear his scream coming from far away, and I couldn't place it. I scanned the crowd and saw all of the other kids, saw my husband, and no Eli. He was alone, that much I knew, but I didn't know where he was. Was he stuck somewhere? Trapped somewhere he couldn't escape? Was he hurt? And then I couldn't hear him, and keeping the panic from my voice I made it clear that Eli was not with us but that I had heard him screaming and we needed to find him NOW. And we scattered and searched, and I called for him everywhere and heard nothing echo back, and then I ran down the stairs and I found him in the basement, trying to get out a door to where he thought the other kids had gone, and he was fine. Of course he was fine. But of course he might not have been, and it's that knowledge, that acceptance, that looking lack-of-control in the eye that does me in.
It's the releasing, the letting go of the illusion of control that is at once freeing and terrifying. And I have no closure here, no wrap up or lesson learned at the end of this, but I knew that I needed to write it out, to get it down, and put it out there because facing fear head on is the only way to take away its power.
I will go upstairs to my older two and kiss their cheeks and tuck their sheets and feel their chests rise and fall before I head back to bed, to my sleeping littlest and my husband, sprawled out in our king with the breeze dancing in through the open window. I will lie there and watch them and rest my hand on my baby's back and tuck my feet between my husbands knees and I will let go and I will sleep.
And to all the mothers who are hurting because your children have been hurt or are in harms way, my heart holds you tonight. And I think it probably always will.