Posted by Mishi Methven on Aug 09, 2011
There is an old saying, "name your fears and they can't own you". Or something like that. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I do know that I have a lot of fears and have been wondering if putting them down on paper will help relieve me of some of the weight they create in my heart each day. So…in no particular order, here are some fears that sometimes cloud my vision in the day and keep me up at night:
Fear: I am not strong enough to do this
A recurring theme nowadays seems to be people telling Aimee and I how "strong" we are. The truth is, I'm not strong. We didn't choose to do this…to be these parents. I am not strong. I am only standing because of the people who hold me up each day.
I'm afraid that I won't be able to do this, that when my daughter gets really sick and needs me the most, I will be too scared to be there and watch her suffer and die. I feel sad and weak almost all the time. I'm not being a good friend or daughter or wife right now, the only thing I am doing is trying to enjoy my time with Stella, but even then, I feel like I barely make it through each day. I can't imagine getting through the bad days with Stella. She's still so healthy and happy and I'm barely making it, I don't think I'm strong enough to actually watch her die. I am scared and want to run away from life most of the time.
Fear: I will lose my friends
I seem to be incapable of socializing and making small talk nowadays. I'm afraid my friends will start to forget about me and move on while I'm stuck in purgatory unable to speak. I'm afraid especially that the friends I made because our kids were the same age and made good playmates will find that without Stella, we're not as fun to hang out with or worth it. As juvenile as it sounds, I'm afraid no one will want to be friends with us anymore. I'm afraid everyone will move forward with their lives because they have to and want to, and I won't be able to keep up because I have nothing to offer anymore but myself and maybe that's not enough.
Fear: We will push our family to its limits
So far our families have been absolutely incredible. My father and sister are at my door every morning at 6:30am to help out, Stella has ice cream with my mom every morning. My dad built a special playhouse for Stella and bedroom in the basement for our friends to stay with us when we need them. Aimee's sister and Julia take Stella all the time to help us, her mom and dad and step-mom have given us incredible cottage experiences and never-ending love and support. But, I'm afraid that as the weeks and months drag on, we will ask too much of them and they will collapse under the weight of the help we require. I'm afraid they will get burnt out and tired and sick because of it.
Fear: I am afraid to get pregnant again in case it's my fault
Aimee and I already talked about how we want to try to have another baby someday. I want to be able to get pregnant again and feel the miracle of having another being growing inside of me, but I'm afraid because I feel like it's my fault Stella has this horrible cancer. It's my body that created her, my DNA that screwed up and made these cells grow out of control, creating this tumour that's swallowing my daughter up. I'm scared that if I have another baby something bad might happen to it too.
Fear: I am afraid of the new baby
I think in the best of circumstances, adding a newborn to your life can be chaotic and scary. But I'm absolutely terrified of the new baby coming in October, for so many reasons.
I'm afraid that I'll be completely overprotective of him because I'm so terrified something bad will happen.
I'm afraid that loving him too much will hurt me because I love Stella with my heart and soul and now I'm being torn to shreds.
I'm afraid I'll ask too much of him---to help heal me and I'll put too much pressure on our son.
I'm afraid that we won't have the energy to give him all the love and support he needs if Stella is still alive and is sick at that point.
I'm afraid I'll be mad.
I'm afraid it will break my heart when he cries.
I'm afraid that without sleep I will collapse again.
I love him so much already…I'm afraid because I love him and want him so badly.
Fear: I will forget
I am afraid that eventually when I close my eyes, I won't be able to remember Stella's face anymore. That it will become blurry in my memory. I worry that I will forget how it feels to have the soft weight of her chubby hands on my lap when she sits next to me on the couch. I wonder if I will still hear the sound of her laughter in my mind or if it will fade away like fabric left in the sun too long. I worry that people will be afraid to talk to Aimee and I about her, afraid to remember, afraid to be sad or to make us sad and that her pictures will get put away and her memory left behind as the years pass and everyone moves forward. I'm scared I will forget how she smiled at me, how she snuggled into my lap as we read books, how she liked to fall asleep with her cheek pressed against my neck so that I could feel her heartbeat against my chest and would lose track of whose heart was whose.
Fear: I am afraid of playgrounds
Each time I walk by a playground and see groups of children playing it makes me cry. i see them running and I see my own child limping around, always left behind by the kids running circles around her, and I feel angry. Even though Stella doesn't even notice and is just as happy as the other kids, I am jealous of the parents who stand around and compare notes on daycares and schools. I used to be one of those moms and now I'm mad when I see them, angry that they don't have to wake up each day and wonder how many "good" days left they have with their kids. Pissed off that I used to be so naive and entitled about my child's future as well. I used to love taking Stella to the park and playground and now I'm afraid of them because they remind me with each shriek of delight from the slide, of all my broken dreams and plans for Stella.
Fear: I will never feel whole again
With the loss of Stella, Aimee and I are losing a big part of our hearts and our souls. I'm afraid I will never be able to move forward from the loss and will let the grief and anger and pain take over and be rendered incapable of enjoying all the blessings and love and joy that life still has to offer me.
Fear: I will live in Fear forever
I'm afraid that my fears will make it hard for me to live my life to the fullest. To take chances, to do the things I love, to be a good wife and friend and daughter.
Fear: I don't know who I am
I'm afraid I'll forget who I am. I've been "Stella's mom" for over two years now and I don't know how to be anyone else. When I look at my life now I don't recognize it, but I also don't recognize the woman I was 7 weeks ago. The one who worked, mothered, went to school, socialized, organized, multi-tasked, scheduled…laughed. Where did she go, who was that? Who am I now? Who will I be a year from now? I am lost. Sometimes only Aimee's hugs when we hold each other and cry keep me anchored to my reality. She reminds me that I'm a good person and that we will get through this. But sometimes I'm afraid when I look in the mirror because I have no idea who the person looking back at me is.
So…I guess that's it for now. I'm not sure if I'll sleep better tonight having unloaded all of this or not. But one thing I know for sure is that I don't fear for Stella. Stella is doing just fine. Stella is having an amazing life, Stella is oblivious to the attention and the hoopla surrounding her. Stella is not afraid of anything. Not afraid of any animals at the zoo, not afraid of boats or going fast or bigger kids. She says what she means and means what she says. She only laughs when she thinks something is funny. She makes no excuses for liking ice cream for breakfast and says "no" when she doesn't want to do something. She lives each day to the fullest.
I wish I could be more like my two-year old daughter. I'm supposed to be the parent, yet I feel that she is the one who is teaching me how to live life.
Stella is fearless. I hope I inherit some of her strength. She is my hero. She reminds me not to be scared because, "Mama, 'tella love you".