Over eggs and potatoes, at our favorite monthly breakfast hangout, my friend N. and I talking, me telling her about the trouble with planning this Idaho trip. Me saying what I've been saying, something about making sure my kids get to hang out with my folks, getting to know my mom especially before she dies. And how that makes it hard to plan a fun vacation and I haven't been able to figure out what to do, how to book it, how long to stay.
"Listen," she finally says. "You are terrified--the little girl inside of you is terrified--of your mom dying."
Screeeeech. Wut. That feeling where the world stops because you've just heard something really important, that's really, really true and at the core of your being but that you didn't know was there. Like somebody seeing you for the first time. And it's almost like you can't hear it because it cracked your brain open and your heart open a little.
"But there's nothing you can do about that. You are going to lose her some day. I will lose you someday. We're all headed there. But you're not doing anybody any favors to think like that. You're not doing her any favors. You can't prepare for it, you don't know how it will be. So you have to let that go."
I'm not quoting her right. She also said something about me being love, her being love, and N., maybe you'll email me and let me know and I can fix this post. There were some things about courage too, mine and my mom's.
But the important thing is that I needed someone to point out to me how scared I am of losing my mom again. "You're going to lose her again, probably again and again," said N. Death to the old, rebirth of the new.
Yes, that's it. And by talking about losing my mom as if I get to choose when it will happen, and to plan trips around that, is about me thinking I can somehow prepare myself for the pain of it. But my heart knows there's no wisdom down that path and it short circuits my brain.
When things get to misfiring above and below I should remember that's a sign that I'm trying to control things that won't be controlled.
My mom would be mortified to know I've been thinking this way. I'm mortified to know I've been thinking this way. It's morbid, this mortifying mortification. De mort. But the pain of her breakdown last time was so great. I felt like I was being torn in two. Set adrift. Unmoored, untethered, unchained, unattached, alone. And I think I'm worried I won't survive the next one if it's the same. I think that's what it is. But who knows if there will be a next time, or what it will be like, or when? And who am I to say who gets to survive what?
Apparently I have some (mis)perceptions of my own courage.
Also, none of the whole scheduling of life and death is up to me.
It can't be planned.
So then I went home from breakfast and planned a proper vacation with time at the lake and on the river and in the woods and with family. Because life is for celebrating, and because there's only one kind of reservation I really get to make.