up against it





Here we are again. Up against it. The rub: mortality.


I realized my own mortality so early on, unable to breathe, that it doesn't seem as if it should be so much a revelation. I know I will die.

And yet. And yet.

My child is mortal. And that realization scares me to my core. 

Every illness. Each unexplained rash. Every time another child dies. There it is, the fear that he will die before me and I will be powerless to save him.

We hold onto this boiling mass of collective fear, my generation of parents. The accumulation of tragedy after tragedy, played out in front of us, live and breaking, on the daily news: the Challenger shuttle exploding, Chernobyl, Columbine, 9/11, all the children, too many to name, who we have seen dead before their time.And that's just the real deaths, the accumulation of fictional death is countless beyond the stars.

Advertising plays up our fears to sell more. Politicians play up our fears to garner votes. The signal for our collective fears is beyond boosted, it is stronger than any wifi connection ever could be.

And so, we've all become hyper vigilant in response. I am not immune, though I try my hardest to fight against it.

Helicopter parenting? Everyone rails against it. But how does one in this zeitgeist, this collective miasma of fear, parent in any other way? We can do our best, but we are not living in another era, we are living now. And the now, in this culture, is filled over the brim with fear. 

So despite my early inoculations, my realization of my own mortality, the fear of my only child (my only child who has not already died) dying grips me. This unexplained series of rashes (hives, today, it looks like, or possibly a flare-up of the rash from last week) that my child has had puts the fear in me so hard I could barely keep from breaking down last week when we ended up at the ER (the rash we'd seen our family doctor for worsened horrifically).

And then my fears were dismissed.

Eczema, they called it.

But my child has never had eczema, has never really even been very sick (except for a few bouts of gastroenteritis). Has had the strongest immune system of us all. I can count on two hands, I think, his brushes with serious illness. He is not me, does not have my fragile immune system. Has not, thank all that is, developed asthma.

And yet. And yet.

At three and half, the pediatric neurologist showed us an MRI that we'd all been convinced would be inconclusive. And we were wrong:  "...white matter signal alterations in the right periventricular (region) that probably reflects an ischemic/hypoxemic injury pattern." In other words, we were looking at evidence that our son had had a stroke.

I should be immune now. I know death. I know randomness. I know that what is is. 

And yet I am so terrifyingly not immune.

Every illness, every rash, hits me just as hard. Every child who dies. Every murder. Cumulative fear.

I can choose to contract with the fear or somehow, somehow, open further into the mystery and fragility of life itself and transmute that fear into faith. (Faith that what is, is. There is no shining magic faith strong enough to keep death at bay.)

And so I keep choosing to unfurl. It's impossibly difficult, at first, so I shield myself a little. I hyperfocus on what is in front of me. I find the beauty. I breathe. I breathe. I breathe.

And the fear recedes.

It takes longer, sometimes. The knot in my gut clenched so tightly, it takes longer to go away sometimes. The fear is stronger than the cause gives it reason to be. (After all, a rash? A rash? This is not the stuff of nightmares. But it is unexplained. And the unexplainable scares me. We have a probable cause, but not a concrete cause. And why does it keep returning? There's no reason to it.)


And this is life. The mystery. The fragility.

The beauty and the love. Transient. Imperfect. Wabi sabi.


always always always

I am here and so I have to be here.

_________________________________________________________________________________

I woke up this morning to hives/ rash all over Remy. It made me anxious. Writing is one of the ways I pull back and help myself.

I sincerely don't want to freak any one else out. Remy is fine. He may have allergies. He may still have strep, I have no clue and we won't get to see our doctor til later today. We'll figure it out.

I love him beyond love, that's all I know.