Friday, February 18, 2011

Who Am I

I often wondered about my role, my title, my purpose since Cooper passed away. In the years before Cooper, I would have described myself as a confident twenty-something, a wife, aspiring to do good in the world, following my dreams and creating a family. I turned 30 the year Cooper was born, and my ideallic swan-dive into motherhood looked more more like a cannon-ball. After a long stay in the NICU we managed, as most new families do, to find our own rhythm and jump back in to the hustle and bustle. It was when Cooper was 10 months old that he was diagnosed with an incurable and fatal childhood disease. All of our planning for the future; moving to a "good" school district, dreaming of a house on acreage for Cooper to run and play, only to learn that he would never walk and he wouldn't be alive long enough to ever attend school. Enter the first of many waves of grief, loss of a future with our son. At that moment, however; he was still alive and I was still his mother. We were incredibly blessed to have Cooper with us for 2 years and 11 days.
Now that he is gone, I wonder, am I still a mother? Those who lose a spouse become widows, and those who lose a parent become orphans. What becomes of a parent who loses a child?

When we meet new people and someone inevitably asks, "So, do you have kids" sometimes I freeze up, unsure of what to say. I don't always feel comfortable saying (some version of) "No, he passed away" because experience has taught me most people either instinctively withdrawal, feeling badly that they have asked in the first place, or become curious as to the cause of his death. I once tried to just say, "No, I don't have any children." Instant pangs of guilt ensued as if I had completely denied his existence which felt worse than the latter. Sometimes I wish I could respond with "No, I am a ____" and then divert the conversation elsewhere without having to go into a long explanation, but I am left searching for a word. Of course, I am {was} more than just Cooper's mother and he is {was} a gianormous part of me. That piece of me is missing and no one knows what to call it.

Today I am a childless mother taking it one day at a time, trying to remember who I was in order to learn who I have become.


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