Today's prompt: What are you afraid of?
Ever since she died, there has been this quiet, gnawing fear that I would be like her. That somehow we would have the exact same story and I would share her fate. I've always been afraid that life would knock me down and I would never be able to get back up again. That depression or alcohol, some big affair - something....something would come for me and take me out.
Sometimes I feel myself waiting for it. This big thing. A piece of bad news or some awful life-altering tragedy. It feels less scary if I'm anticipating the next heartache to come my way. It's torture though to live in that kind of expectancy.
Maybe when your mother dies suddenly in her sleep, it's normal to be afraid of those things. Maybe it's common to think and live that way. When you watch someone drink themselves to death and self-destruct before your very eyes and then suddenly they're gone - no goodbyes, no last words. Could it be me too that would leave my children to live without a mother, to live with questions, to live with their own fears that they too could end up like me?
The thing is though, I don't think she would want me to be afraid. I think she would want me to learn from her - from all the right, all the wrong, all the tragedy and heartache. I think she would be proud of me, especially in the places I don't want to emulate her. Where I'm careful about alcohol - how I'll never drink it on a bad day or in a bad mood. Where I fight hard for my marriage and my feelings and my heart because I won't settle and because I believe in more. How I don't try and pretend to have everything together because I believe real strength is in our weakness and neediness.
I think she would be proud - I think she is proud - of the places where I have had the strength to do the things she couldn't. There have been times when I have imagined her face for me, cheering me on, saying "Go baby, go! You can do this!"
Nothing else can bring me to the kind of tears I have when I imagine what it will be like to reunite with her. When heaven is home and we're both there together. I've always imagined seeing her face from a distance - as if she's been waiting for me. And we don't need to speak a single word about anything - the hurt, the past, all the years I lived without her. We'll just somehow know it all. That it was all okay. Somehow it was all part of some plan that never made sense until that moment. It's that moment - that first instant of seeing her face there - my heart could burst with the pain and the hope I feel for how badly I want to have that.
It comes and goes, this fear. There have been times where the fear has been crippling. Where I have felt completely terrified. And maybe it has felt that scary to think I could end up like her, because of how painful it was to have gone through it.
But, most days I live in confidence and security - that while I am so much like her, I'm not her. That what is true is that her story was her own and I'll have mine. That how we live life is a series of choices. I think she would want me to know that I get to choose.
Maybe I'm starting to learn that to honor her life and story is to not be afraid of it. To acknowledge how it impacted me. And to love others from those wounded places.