As I photograph them laughing and playing, in the back of my mind I wonder what they would make of me if I were to disappear and all they had to remember me by were these pictures. These videos and my laughter recorded on the background.
As I sit on an airplane heading far from their reach, an invisible hand squeezes my gut until I can barely breath, and the thought that I may never see them again becomes too painful to bear.
I know that it is normal for a mother to fear the loss of her children. So much so that I probably cannot bear the thought of them going away, so instead in this half dream I am the one that disappears. The thought of leaving them is still painful, but more manageable. The thought of them suffering and not being there to comfort them takes my breath away. Literally. Sometimes the fear is so strong I dread it might be a memory from a past life. A memory so painful it cannot leave me, not even once I’ve moved on to a new life, to a new child.
Memories of friends who lost their mother’s in their childhood haunt me. The image of a half naked woman lying on her deathbed, her long wavy hair half covering her bare chest. Her small children run about, laughing and smiling unaware that their world is about to be torn apart. I can’t imagine a worse form of torture. The girl at school we all walked up to and asked about her mother, fully aware her answer would be “she’s on a trip to heaven”. And we thought that was funny.
I’ve tried to make a pact with fate: I’ve asked that no one I love will ever die. But I fear she’s not listening.
A college mate mourns her parents. Both died on a car crash with another couple. All of them gone in one instant. One road trip. One small second of difference is all it would have taken for their lives to be completely different.
We are so fragile. Life is so fragile.
And then of course there was my cousin, almost a year today. Young, hopeful and engaged. His death haunts me in a most selfish way, “spare me” is all I can think. “not me, not mine.” And then wish him well, wherever he may be, and think of something else before it becomes too hard.
My babies, I want to protect them from heaven and earth, yet have no power to do so. I want to watch over them night and day, yet I don’t have the ability to do so.
So I hide the fear away and instead sing to them. Sing in their sleep. Sing to fate and all her sisters in the hope that I will enchant them with my lullabies, that they will look bright upon my life, and death will pass us by, and spare me and mine.
And I pray, to no particular god, I pray that me and all my loved ones will live forever, that I may see my children and their children grow old. That I may always be there to comfort them, that I may never know that kind of pain, that I may never cause that kind of pain.