Saturday, April 15, 2017

Confronting Mortality

Most of the time, I am a pretty upbeat person. I like to be sarcastic and I'm pretty sure that I want most of my friends to be wearing their big girl panties on a regular basis. My favorite high school English teacher turned artist once told me I am a romantic, seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. Sometimes I think something about motherhood changes that romance, puts you down in the trenches. Surrounded by dirty diapers and smelly socks and sticky dining room chairs, you often see more of the reality, the murphy's law of the way things really work. But the view from behind my rose colored glasses is also tainted, sometimes by anxiety. I think that most mothers (most of them that I know, who are honest) suffer from anxiety of some sort. There is so much resting on our shoulders, so many things that could go wrong, so many things we stand to lose that would be our undoing. We can't afford to come undone. Some of us have constant anxiety, some of us have controlled anxiety, or hidden anxiety, or even just postpartum anxiety when our hormones are overwhelming us, the new powerful love we have for another is overpowering.

I may be wearing rose colored glasses, but I can still see the very dangerous, scary, and real things that moms face everyday. I can still have that fear of losing a child. That fear of having a child being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or illness. The fear of a child being abducted. Or in this case, the very-real and very looming fear of having a simple, routine, surgery... on Monday.

I've never had surgery. Yep. I know. So many of you probably laugh or scoff at the fact that I could find surgery as such a frightening prospect. It's not actually the surgery itself that worries me. It's the what-if. The maybe. The *statistical possibility* that I could perish from this earth by the hands of a skilled surgeon in a routing procedure, just eight minutes from my house. It's the thought that I could be taken from my family when I have SO MUCH LEFT TO DO. At the very least, it's that I could have complications during or after surgery that could lead to a much longer than *usual* recovery. More pain. More Procedures. More Issues. Anything that would prevent me from taking care of my kids. Anything that would force me to rely on others to get these things accomplished, others who I AM SURE would not be able to do it the way I need it to be done. At the very most, it's the very real fear that I could DIE in two days. I could become a body, a shell, a mother who wasn't done raising her children. A person who had so much left to accomplish. A person who had so much more love to give. A person whose time ran out.

Some of you will stop reading right here. Some of you will think "yep, she is definitely crazy. Off the deep end. Overly dramatic. Can't "deal" with Life's difficulties. But maybe, just maybe, some of you will understand. Maybe some of you have been in this place, this place where you are alone at 8pm with tears just rolling down your face because "what if i just kissed my kids goodnight for the last time ever?" or "What if I die and E is only four and he never remembers how much I love him? What if he can't remember that I sang to him, or that I painted his nails, or that I used to love his artwork and saved and laminated every precious piece?" What if I don't get to see A's spring dance recital? What if I never get to see then go to Junior High? To High School? To Prom? What if I never get to make tacos again? What if I never get to sew the kitchen curtains I have on the sewing table, or if I don't ever get the Little Free Library painted and put up? What if I don't get to take them camping ever again, or make s'mores? What if I don't get to see them off to summer camp, or I don't get to take them to the lake again? Who will keep all three kinds of cheerios in the cupboard or know that they like Whales instead of Goldfish? Who will know that A doesn't like Ketchup and that they like Horseradish Mustard? Who will know what size shoes to buy them, or what dresses A hasn't played violin in yet? Who has their medical history memorized, knows their vaccination schedule? No one else has ever taken them to the doctor or the dentist! Who will know that I have that cool Nature workbook hidden from them until summer? Who will know that A needs a kite to take to school and that M still needs a spare pair of glasses ordered this month? Who will teach E how much I loved him when he can't even remember me?

And here, on Easter eve, while everyone sleeps, I am in a panic about how I can't sleep for the next two nights because really I need to start writing all this down!!!!! No one else knows how to pay the bills! (They're all online!) No one knows the pin number to the debit card. No one knows which clothes get dried and which ones need hung up! No one knows the phone numbers for the soccer coaches. No one knows how to file the taxes. No one knows my last wishes. No one knows that I don't want to be unplugged in two days because I am NOT READY TO DIE!

These are the things that keep me up at night. These are the things that make me terrified or at least slightly distressed about Monday. I need to remember to take pictures with the kids on Easter because that might be the last day they ever spend with me. I need to remember not to yell at them for stupid things tomorrow. I need to remember to get the Easter books out and read them and OMIGOSH I haven't written enough in E's baby book! A is the only one who has any completed scrapbooks! Who will make sure E gets to his field trip on Wednesday and A has a what she needs for her field trip this Friday?

Eventually I make myself feel better by deciding that I won't die. You can't make me. No matter what you do, no matter what mistake the surgeon makes, I won't die on Monday because I can't. Because I am too tough. Because I will fight and scream and kick my way back. Because I have too much to do.

But then I think about how truly God is in charge, and I can't probably fight that. And then I get really ANGRY because what kind of God would want me dead? What have I done? Or better yet, what have my Kids done to deserve that? I think of all the people who have died before me who, seriously, didn't want to die either. And they were probably much tougher than soft old me who can't even get their gallbladder removed without considering that it might be the end. Approximately 9000 of my friends piped in to tell me they had theirs taken out, many by the same surgeon, and all of them are here to tell about it. But what if I am like that one friend... that one friend whose bowel was nicked, who almost DID die. Whose possessions were signed over, whose family grieved, who almost died eight minutes from his own house during a routine gallbladder surgery.

Should I write each child a note? Should I give them life advice, and tell them how much I love them and what I adore about each of them and point out all their good qualities that I hope never ever change? Should I fill their Easter baskets tonight like it will be the very. last. time? Gosh, who will fill their Easter baskets? Who will know that A wanted roller skates and M wanted baseball cards and certain lego sets and the Show 17 for PS4? Who will know that E wanted Cranky the Crane and that each kid wanted their own garden gloves? Who will know which American Girl books A has already read? Who will take the library books back to the library? Who will answer my phone and my text messages? Who will be the Girl Scout Leader, who will Volunteer for Safety Town, who will cancel my autoships on Amazon? Who will save my jewelry for my kids, and know which pieces I made so that the kids might cherish them or give them to someone who will know?

These are the reasons I have needed, and continue to need Unisom every night until surgery- or like last night and the night before- or I will be wide awake from the time a nightmare wakes me up at 4:30am until the time the kids get up at 6:30.

My husband snores away, apparently unaffected by the turmoil that is about to be thrust into our lives. And I can barely think straight because my mind is bombarded by all the things I haven't had time to tell them. Is this how all mother's approach surgery? Or going on vacation? Or practically anything that takes them away from their children or could be life threatening?

Tonight after everyone went to sleep, it was still light outside. I lay in the hammock and watched the clouds rolling overhead, five squirrels in the tree next door, people going about their business, kids playing, people talking, and all I could think about was "this could be the last time I really, truly, look up at the sky."

It Ain't Easy being Mortal.
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