Tonight I pressed a cool washcloth to 3-year-old Julia’s forehead. Feverish glassy eyes winced beneath the perimeters of the cold, wet relief. “I love you,” I mouthed. I said and felt a prayer of gratitude. Julia smiled with great effort; gratitude in return. While sweeping the damp cool rag over chubby pink cheeks and sweltering forehead, I allowed myself to feel what it IS to be healthy. The ability to hold the washcloth in my hands, extensions of my able arms, connected to the rest of whole and healthy me. In the celebration and gratitude of being whole, I thought of the one who wasn’t. I grieved for my Mom’s limp hands, arms and body. I grieved my simple sicknesses; the times I had the flu. No damp rags, no mouthed words in the dark hours of night. How sad, how very tragic, how cruel, to not be able to care for your baby by your own hand.
I was never left wanting for care, but always left wanting for her care. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever stop grieving for what my Mom lost. But then where is the growth in that? Where is the honor? My Mom often wrote about what she could not do once plagued with ALS—of what was lost. As the survivor, as a whole daughter, and now whole mother, am I not obligated to write of the splendors, the miracles, and the mundane of motherhood? Washrags, holding babies and whispering my love and reassurances in the dark hours of the night. Tonight I am a whole and healthy mom; I used my hands, extensions of my able arms, and I pressed a washcloth to my baby’s feverish face, I told her I loved her (more than once) and said another silent prayer of gratitude.