I didn't allow myself to grieve. To feel their loss as anything other than nature's way of taking care of the eternal circle of life.
The doctors told me I'd never have children. It is impossible they said. I grieved then. I grieved the unborn child. The emptiness of my womb. The hollowness of my arms.
And then, Alexis was born. Beautiful. Perfect. Miraculous. And then Liseanne appeared, erupting into the world in wild, joyful perfection.
And I rejoiced. And gave thanks.
And in their birth there was a moment so pure it was if I was seeing, feeling, breathing, touching LOVE as if for the very first time. A moment so transcendent that I was infused with LOVE in all its eternal grace and ever lasting light.
And in the same breath of knowing LOVE in their presence, I feared for the life of these two miraculous and wondrous beings. I feared their life would be ripped from my arms with every breath I took.
And in my fear, truth awoke. In knowing LOVE, I feared death for the very first time.
In their life, I knew the absolute pain of loving so completely I could not bear the thought of their dying.
And in that truth, I had to awaken to the sacred trust into which they were born. My fear could not overcome LOVE. LOVE is greatest of all.
My fear could not take away the beauty of their being here on earth. LOVE is pure and perfect, ever lasting.
I heard the story of a friend of a friend who used to dress her daughter in exactly the same colours as she was wearing whenever they went out. "In case she gets lost," this mother said. "I'll always be able to tell the police what she was wearing."
I wonder about the obsessive fear that drives her. The over-arching need to keep a child safe by preparing for every catastrophe before it happens.
It is the fear a mother's heart, and father's too, never loses. What if I lose my child? What if something happens?
It is the fear we must breathe into if we are to be free to nurture these miraculous seeds of life into the beauty of their lives unfolding before our eyes. It is the fear we must release with every step they take away from the safety of our arms. It is the love we must breathe into to ease the heart ache of knowing that for them to be safe in the world beyond our embrace, we must set them free to explore without fearing our need to keep them near. Always and forever.
And I wonder about the infants I lost. The two who were torn from my body before the miracle of life brought them full-born into this world. I do not think of them often. I do not think of them in thoughts of love or regret, or even loss. But today, over at Ruth's synch-ro-ni-zing, she writes of the almost unbearable weight of love and of a mother who lost a child before it could take the journey from her womb into her arms.
And I think of those infants lost before they were born. I give a prayer of gratitude for the lives I know and breathe into the wonder of life here on earth.
I think we are all mothers at times like this, writes Ruth. Whatever our gender or childbearing ability, we carry the weight of a child, as Anne Michaels said in her powerful book, Fugitive Pieces:
"There's a moment when love makes you believe in death for the first time. You recognize the one whose loss, even contemplated, you'll carry forever, like a sleeping child. All grief, anyone's grief...is the weight of a sleeping child."
It is all part of the circle of life into which we are each born, through which we are all connected.
A circle of life that is completed in our dying.
A man came into my office yesterday to talk about his last wishes. I've written of him before. He lives at the shelter and he is dying. He rode a horse in December and smiled big. He received a gift of a ticket to Mardi Gras at Christmas and cried, big.
He cannot take the trip to Mardi Gras. His strength is fading too fast.
He cannot imagine spring. His health is failing too quickly.
On Tuesday, we're taking him to a local 'crab shack' where they've agreed to set aside a room, decorate it in Mardi Gras fare so we can celebrate this man and his life and give him a taste of the city and the event he yearned to experience.
He is like a child. Frightened. Struggling to understand. Grasping at anything to hold onto for as long as he can. Yearning to capture a few more moments of Life, that precious and delicate thread we all take for granted we will awaken to when we fall asleep at night.
For this man, there is no promise of morning. No assurance that when he closes his eyes tonight, he will have the life he needs to open them in the morning.
His brother is coming to the party on Tuesday. I called him this week to invite him. They haven't seen eachother in twelve years. T. cried when I told him his brother was coming. He'd given me the number to invite him. He was afraid his brother would say no.
"How sick is he," the brother asked when I called.
I took a breath and searched for an easier way to speak the truth. There was none. "He's dying," I replied.
"How soon?" he asked.
I gave him the response the doctor had given me last week. "No one knows. We're not God. What's important is we treasure each moment now."
Anne Michaels writes, "There's a moment when love makes you believe in death for the first time."
There's a moment when death makes me believe in love as if I am experiencing it for the very first time. A moment when its eternal grace and everlasting light shines so brightly I know, there is no death to fear, when we treasure each moment we live in LOVE.