So, here’s the thing: many, many years ago, probably soon after my daughter was born, I made a deal with God. I don’t really recall what my end of the deal was, to be honest, but I remember what I begged for. In repeated prayers, I asked to live long enough to be there for my children to grow up. I probably offered something crazy like my life, as in, “If you let me live long enough to see my children grow up, you can take me then.”
A desperate mother makes desperate pleas.
As my baby has turned 18, officially grown up by America’s legal standards (quote from her: “Now I can legally buy cigarettes and lottery tickets, and I can vote!” We’re all funny here.), I have found the source of some of my emotional stress as of late. No, I don’t fear I will suddenly drop dead and be collected into the heavens, debt-collection time, but rather it is done. They are all grown and healthy and have solid foundations to keep moving forward. IF something happened to me, they would be OK.
I know, I know…they would have been fine anyway. They have each other and a father who loves them and a million other people who would step in. But I’m MOM, and as much as I have needed a mom my whole life, the idea that my children might lose me has haunted me in ways I can’t quite explain. And suddenly, the weight is lifted a little. Sometimes you just don’t realize what you’re carrying around until you set it down.
Once upon a time, I just knew I wouldn’t live to see 30. That’s not the best outlook to have on life. I set goals that needed to be met before then, so I didn’t NOT live, you see, but I also didn’t fully live. I know this. Perhaps that is why it felt like I truly came alive when we moved to Colorado. Our move here was a choice we made, not one that was made for us. And we blossomed when we arrived.
Oh sure, some things (many things) stayed the same, but many things did not. Whereas I lived once in front of my computer, hiding away behind words, I began to step out. I have friends now, a new family, a world that is different than anything I’ve ever lived. And as I look back, I realize that it was in my 30th year that we moved here. At that time, I may have subconsciously stopped waiting to die, and in the same way, I realized last night that I have been hoping to live until at least the baby’s 18th birthday.
I can’t explain it, not really. Maybe the past etched something deep into my soul that has lied to me about what living is, or what I should want. But what I know is that I am grateful that I’m still here, that I have watched three children grow up to be adults, and I have witnessed one wedding and one grandchild enter this world. I have a long and flirty marriage, beautiful friends who make up a new family, a business that is building, and opportunities to pursue my education. I lack for nothing, not really (though I miss our far-flung family members). But maybe one of the best things I can think of as I set down the weight of the worry I’ve carried for so long is this: I never needed to make a deal with God. And I don’t need to now. What is will be, and that has to be enough. I can’t carry it, but it was never mine to carry anyway.