Three times I had mothers reach out to me when they were dying:
The Russian Mom
- Sydney’s mom got teary a few times. I didn’t know she was dying until it was close to the end because she worked so hard to keep going. She had a little fear in her eyes from time to time, for she loved her daughter something fierce and knew she would not always be there for her. Sydney contacted me. I wanted to pull her in but I sort of just propped her up. She was going to have to stand without her mother and coddling her would do no good. Besides, she was too introverted to notice any coddling; and truth be told I was too weak and tired. Fast forward and Sydney shows up on facebook with a husband. Apparently as I was wrestling with her not having a mother she was out making a family. Your mamma loved you, baby girl.
2) The Russian woman had a daughter. She looked healthy but one day she told me she had a benign tumor that was going to possibly kill her. She didn’t seem ill. I wondered if she had had a tumor and now perhaps didn’t understand that she was going to be OK. This woman never lost weight and never lost her hair and yet she thought she was dying of cancer. It only registered a little because they were out the door before I had time to think of it. So I don’t know why I was surprised when a sad husband brought his Russian daughter in and that woman was her mother and had died. But I was. I had reassured this woman that she was going to be OK and I did NOT believe in false security, false comfort. The father’s eyes were always moist. He seemed in pain every year to bring his daughter in. He was proud of his daughter, and yet she reminded him of his wife, and he was still sad and missing her. The daughter grew tall and lovely and the father grew less moist. The doctor said to the daughter every year: “I remember your mother.”
3) Ty’s mom said to me the first time I met her that she wasn’t supposed to breast feed because she had breast cancer but that she was going to anyway because it was best for her son. And she won that one. Until the day it caught up with her. She started having allergies and then her chest Xray looked worrisome and pretty soon she was going to die. Only seeing her occasionally, all I ever saw was life. She seemed to shine til the end and she loved that boy so much that I hope he feels it now.
And those are three mothers who looked at me with pleading eyes as if to say, take care of my child. Yet what that child needed was inside them already thanks to their mom. It wasn’t Ok but it was the way it was. The mother’s love was strong.
And still, I feel guilt. Because when push comes to shove, no surrogate mother stepped up for those kids. Certainly not me, and I feel that weight. But the really powerful thing is that the kids didn’t need another mother. They had a good one and when she was gone they stepped up to own it, stepped into her shoes and found, peace.