Laura is ruler of the world; a blonde-haired, blue-eyed tyrant; a sweet tyrant, but a tyrant nonetheless. “I love you Mommy,” she hollers in her pilgrim hat during the middle of her preschool Thanksgiving play.
Julia is sensitive; she fears bushes, the sound of dog food hitting the bowl, and the vacuum (oddly, only when turned off). She sobs for extended periods of time for reasons unbeknown to the rest of the world, then stops abruptly and beams at you.
Elizabeth is stoic and independent; she walks with a purpose … but oh, is she a love. She rests her head on my chest and pats my back with her tiny hand, then chirps a protest at being held and quietly gets down to go about her business.
I spend my days chasing the sweet tyrant, the sensitive and the stoic. I soak up every preschool presentation, extended sob session, and pat on the back.
Sometimes I spend my time worrying about ALS. Oh God, I panic, what if I get ALS and can’t chase them anymore? A sick feeling washes over me and I lose my breath for a moment. Sometimes I confess my thoughts to Paul. “I’m worried I’ll get my mom’s disease,” I say. “We can’t live that way,” he tells me.
He’s right, but I can’t hear it from him. I want my mom. I want to have a conversation about my fears. I want that very person who died from that nasty ALS to tell me everything will be okay. But she can’t because she’s gone. I get angry, sad, and occasionally throw tantrums about it.
On a rainy Monday I read Bortis and Bee, and realize something significant. My mom does talk to me; not in person, not in verbal voice—but voice on paper. This is a gift and I know it when I read, “But to live a hundred healthy years without experiencing that powerful, painful love, could never be for me.” She does not reassure me that everything will be okay, but she does tell me that the magnitude of love I have for my children is okay.
Today I am healthy, strong, and filled with comforting words that have been safely tucked in a big red binder … waiting for the rainy Monday when I was ready to hear them. When the sweet tyrant, the sensitive and stoic awake from a lengthy nap, I will seep them in my magnitude of love, and be grateful for my mom’s voice on paper.