The Living We Do While We're Dying
I can't stop thinking about the fact that I'm dying.
You are, too, you know.
That's not drama -- that's fact.
From the moment we arrived here, we began the process of dying. And because I'm a person, I've become quite competent at pushing that truth away. I have plenty of time to make an impact. My kids love me, and everyone says that's the thing they'll remember most. Don't worry -- 'It' won't happen to you.
You can see how trite those thoughts are, can't you? How flat the clichés fall? I've become increasingly wary of my default being I'll do it eventually. When is eventually? Why is tragedy so often the impetus that moves us to action, instead of recognition of our desire to live more fully?
At 1:00 this morning, I couldn't sleep. I was heaving with tears, and being near my children was the only thing I could think to do to ease my sadness. I crawled into bed with my daughter. I put my head to her feet, crawled under her warm, purple blanket. As we settled seamlessly into each other, the pillow under my head became damp, tears collecting, hot and fast.
Because here's what I know: I am a good mother. I know this is true. My kids love me like all children love their mothers, no matter what. Which is precisely the thing that had me in tears: My kids will love me even if I don't earn it.
And I don't always earn it. Sometimes, I talk to my kids in ways that I talk to no one else on Earth. I yell. I scold. I breathe deep out-breaths of annoyance, frustration and please-just-hurry-up. I often show more focus and determination in my marriage -- on speaking kindly and with love and purpose to my husband -- than I do in showing my children those same courtesies.
The sadness, it was born right there, in the shame of that truth.
It's up to me and my husband to make sure our children know that they are treasured. Not that they are survived each day, or "put up with." It is our job as their parents to buoy their spirits with a sense of certain worth and deep, noble love.
The kind of love they'll never be able to shake.
My tears came from the knowing that I don't give them that kind of love as often as I want. From the knowing that, as people living human-on-Earth experiences, I am dying and they are dying and what do I want these dying days of this gorgeous, possible life to feel like?
I want less "no." I want more laughter. I want less rushing and I want more intention. I want to work together. I want to hear the things they think about. I want to know who my children are, as much as we can know such things.
I want less, "You won't get ketchup with your dinner if..." and "There will be a consequence in 1... 2..." I want to trust that they'll make the right decisions and want to do the right thing if I believe that they will, all the way.
I want robust love, burning love, oozing-dripping-glistening love. I want to see it leaking out of them. Because what are we here, living for, if not to give the kind of sure, vast love that won't die when we do?
My husband's arm was tight around me, his body warm against mine, when I crawled away from him and into my daughter's bed. I didn't have enough room. I was awkwardly covered by blanket.
I put my hand on her ankle and fell asleep almost instantly.
Pretending that this will go on forever, or that somehow, magically, enough of the mistakes will be righted in the end?
I want them righted in life.
I want them righted right now. Because right now is all there is.
And that is not some New Age jargon.
That is the truth.
I can't give my love and focus, my determination and clarity to my husband and my work and assume that my kids will be fine. Because while they will be fine -- of course they'll be fine -- I don't want them to be fine.
I want them to thrive.
I want them to thrive like nothing I've ever seen before.
I want really see what love can do.
I want to know that the best work I've ever done, I did in the hearts and the minds and the bodies of the two people that came from mine.
If I can't get it right there, the rest is more inconsequential than I'd like to admit.
The living I do while I'm dying? I want to make it sparkle.
I want to make it last.
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