Talk about heart growing four sizes in the past 9.5 months. Seriously. While I wasn’t necessarily always a hard-hearted grinchy type person, I rarely batted an eye at sad stories in the news or books or movies. In fact, there was a time that I prided myself on never cryting during movies (especially not during Titanic, because WE ALL SAW THAT COMING, since, it was, based on history, after all). At one point I even felt that crying could only be accomplished when reading a few key essays from Chicken Soup for the Soul, cheesy, I know. Perhaps my grinchiness was actually due to the fact that I felt so much sadness (depression?) inside, that if I let myself spontaneously cry, I felt as though I might never stop crying, and I’d still be sitting in my childhood bedroom sobbing, as a 30something adult (because, as a teen, that was as far as I could really imagine).
But since Potamus came bursting onto the scene, breaking down all of my heart-walls, I have actually found myself drawn to sadness…not as much in a must-have-catharsis-because-my-sadness-is-so-bottled-up way, but more of a genuine curiosity in relating and sitting and mulling over the place this emotion has in the world, as well as working on boundaries of sitting with sadness and feeling other people’s sadness through empathy, but also not carrying their burden inside myself, because I have my own sadness, and their sadness is not mine to carry.
As I was perusing my favori Parent Section of Huffington Post, I came across an article entitled: Lots of Tears With Less Than a Few Months to Live, where a woman writes about her experience blogging, with stage IV breast cancer, with only a few months to live…as a mother of a sweet girl Niomi.
I haven’t ventured to her blog, as the article left me struck with sadness, and my boundary is to only go as far as I feel like I can still keep my life-preserver and leave the sadness when I feel like I am drowning.
Two quotes struck me:
I will never get over my fears of not being there for Niomi as that is what truly scares me to death, but until the day comes, I will live each day to the fullest. I will instill in her the most valuable lessons I can. I will teach her to be strong, to give her advice through letters, through videos and even through our little talks while she’s falling asleep at night. But for now, we live day by day and that takes my fears away.
Can you believe I won’t know the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Parenthood? UGH. Now, that sucks. Hopefully they know these things in Heaven.
Initially I was a little embarassed about admitting that the sadness of missing a TV show, but it was so refreshingly honest and real and a great metaphor for missing all those little, mundane, real moments that we take for granted. Of course, as I go home and watch our DVR’d episode of Parenthood, tonight, with Boof, I will think of this woman who is dying of the same cancer that the character Kristina is diagnosed with.
But most gut-wrenching, is her explanation of how she is going to live moment-to-moment with her daughter. While hopefully no cancer is looming on my horizon, I got to thinking about the loss of mother, from a child’s or infant’s perspective. Does Niomi understand what is about to happen in the very-near future? Does she see and experience these moment-to-moments with her mama in a way that will stick with her somatically and emotionally until she is a very old woman?
Before Potamus, I believed that if I died, people would simply go on. I often wondered about what it would be like to simply cease to exist (not so much in a suicidal way). And I know, with my head, that Potamus would go on…everyone does, in their own way, but how can I go on?
Maybe that’s a weird statement. And maybe it’s selfish, but I wonder…if I was dying, how would I feel about going on without seeing Potamus grow up? I would be sad that he would grow up without me, but I think much of my sadness is on my end, around not wanting to miss his milestone moments.