Sometimes I can’t even.

leafLater this morning I’ll be going to a funeral for the mother of one of Devil Baby’s classmates. A mother of a first grader and a third grader. Two little boys. This cancer seemed private in a school where help spreads like wildfire. Why didn’t I investigate? I didn’t know nearly enough about her and I didn’t help nearly enough, and the truth is I feel guilty and sad. There are other do-gooders whom I’ve come to rely upon to let me know when to send money, sign up for meals and show up to chaperone. Industrious and generous people who make it their business to make sure things get organized, but somehow I knew nothing of this and I can’t shake the feeling that the organizer should have been me.

There is a vast and sturdy net spread taut under those boys right now and for as long as they are in our community, but did she know that? I can’t help but think that would have been a comfort. To know that the moms will be paying attention and leaning in – to borrow the newest overused term floating about. Or maybe not. No one can take our place or begin to be the way we are. We may not be a perfect mother and on any given day it can feel like we’re not even a very good mother, but we are it and we are the only one that will do it just how we do it.

A mother is like a fingerprint – no two alike – and once those chicks match up to the mom, I think it’s very hard to imagine their life without her. And to be honest, I’m talking about the mother here, not the chicks. I think the chicks can and do carry on just fine in life with other mothers, fathers who become mothers and every other permutation this weird and unpredictable life can throw at them. But for the mother, for the mother it is crushingly unfair to take away her chance to be with her babies and help them grow. In her obituary she is quoted: Revel in the small things. Stop to smell your children’s heads.

You guys. It’s just so sad.

This morning I was making lunches and breakfasts simultaneously – normally something that I crabbily rush to get through – and I just kept thinking about her. This mundane task, so easily dismissed as a bother and a burden, revealed itself for what it is when we’re thinking about things the right way. It’s a blessing – to be alive and to have given life to little people who need us to do this for them for a few short years. It’s a meditation – to move our hands in the same way, day after day, for the purpose of nourishing another. It’s something to be mindful of and grateful for.

It’s not too late to help out. We can have this little boy over to play. I can organize meal drop offs. But she’s the one I keep thinking about. This woman I hardly knew, this mama who got dealt a really bad hand – the rawest of deals. She’s the one I wish I could have helped.

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7 Responses to “Sometimes I can’t even.”

  • Dolly Says:

    I know of which you speak. When Heidi died, or rather when she was dy-ing, I came to realize that my grief, although multi-faceted, would rest mostly with her. Not my sadness over missing her, but what she would miss. Sure, the immediate and most prevalent attention is showered on the children because it is they who are seemingly the most vulnerable. Who can fathom a little boy growing up without his mother? I mean, are you fucking kidding me? Sign me up for carpool, play-dates, ANYTHING to make me feel like I’m doing something for this family that is one hair away from spiraling out of control.

    But then there is the mother. The dying mother. The mother who knows she is dying. To any other mother, THAT is unfathomable. One afternoon, Heidi said out of the blue, “I won’t see any of my children graduate from high school.” That awareness takes my breath away today, and it is what you touching on. There was nothing I could do to take that burden from her. It was hers, and she carried that deep in her heart. About 6 weeks before she died, she was hospitalized on Ash Wednesday. We brought the kids up to see her, and her then 9-year-old said, “Mom, I wish you could give up being sick for Lent.” Oh, how she wished that too.

    You didn’t miss the boat on helping this young woman who was gipped out of 1000 beautiful moments with her children. That burden is hers. And that is what you are sad about. Nothing can be done, and sometimes you just have to sit with your sadness. But you may remember her spirit when you are swirling the peanut butter for the umpteenth time or driving all over the earth for a soccer game. We don’t have to do these things. We get to do them.

    As you know, my sisters and I went to Emily’s nursing school graduation a few weeks ago. As I was dancing in her house, beer in hand, arm in arm with my now giant nephew, the pang in my heart tightened its grip and the lump in my throat swelled. I thought to myself and then quietly said, “Your mom would have loved this.”

  • Crackerjack Says:

    Beautiful blog post, beautiful comment….thanks for the reminder!

  • peevish mama Says:

    Oh Heathie,
    Beautifully put. And you better believe Heidi was in my thoughts that day. You guys are magical aunties to those kids. She is at least lucky for that. The rest is just too sad.

  • Court Says:

    just.beautiful.words. xoxo

  • SuperGirlFan Says:

    This has been such a sad summer for our little school community. Last month, while helping to create picture boards for the funeral of an amazing woman who leaves behind three lovely daughters who do not deserve to lose her, she again taught me something valuable. When you are volunteering at school, don’t just take pictures of the adorable children in the classroom, take pictures of your friends. Lots of them. Lots of pictures of the amazing parents and teachers in front of you who are enjoying sharing their time. You will want them. Even if just to look back together and share the memories.

  • peevish mama Says:

    Oh, SuperGirlFan – you are so right. Aaaah. Makes me well up just thinking about her. Hard, hard stuff.

  • Dwayne Says:

    uncommon@child.fascinated” rel=”nofollow”>.…


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