The other night I put the kids to bed and then cleaned up my room. I opened the door to the hallway to find Amelia standing there. She looked like a ghost with her pale blue pajamas almost glowing in the dark. "Mommy, I am really afraid about you and I need to let it out." I have told her before, "Your feelings are there and they need to come out. They will come out one way or another and if you don't let them out in a controlled fashion, as sorrow and tears, they will come out as anger and other emotions."
I walked with her to her room and sat beside her bed.
"What are you afraid of?"
"I'm afraid you are dying."
"What scares you most about my dying?"
"It will be so different."
I acknowledged that it would, indeed, be very different. But I also assured her that her father loved her and he was going to be able to handle life without me. I reminded her how he got everything ready for the beach when I used to do all that. I told her how important it was for her to help her dad both now and when I am gone. I noted how much she had helped prepare for the vacation and outings to the beach.
"I do think the TPN is working honey and I think it is going to give us a little more time. Who knows maybe we'll get another year, 2 years, 5 years, it's impossible to say." Maybe it is unfair to be this frank with her, but I really do not know how else to be. "And I think that, when I die, if I ask God to let my spirit stay with you, he will grant me that," I reassured her. And I thought about a friend who told me that a mother she knew said she looked forward to dying because that way she could meddle more effectively. What an appealing thought.
"Amelia, I know this for certain: even if I die, you will have a wonderful life. You will travel with your father and brother. You will continue to enjoy school, you will still find happiness. You don't need me here for that."
"Will you lie with me?"
I crawled in under the covers and we shared a box of tissues. She didn't say anything else and I thought she had fallen off to sleep. I crept out of the room and she called out to me, "I love you Mommy ... so much."
I used to think I had made a mistake by having them, that I had been terribly unfair in sentencing them to this heartache. But I finally realized that came from a pretty egotistical view of motherhood: that life is only worth living if your mom is there to raise you. Amelia and Aidan do not belong to me; they belong to the world. I was merely a vessel for them. And I will nurture them for as long as I can, and then trust that the world will take over from there.