To my dear, sweet wonderful children,
Tonight I have learned that a friend, a woman near my age with a child near your age, is struggling for her life and praying for a miracle. She is facing life's final moment and only began this battle a few short months ago. Beyond the hurt I feel for her and for her family is the lingering sadness that they've not had enough time to even attempt to make things "right" and to say the things we should not leave unsaid.
All by itself, that's the most perverse thing I've ever written, because a mother cannot ever make things "right" and she cannot ever say all the things that need to be said to her child along their life's path in order to leave her children "properly" behind. But when a child is small, just a little, young person, the burden is impossible.
And so, perhaps, if there is one teeny iota of anything not completely dismal about this whole awful tragedy, it's that I'm writing to you now - so you will always know what it means to me to love you.
Every cliché ever written about how much a mother loves her child is just a lie. It has to be because our dumb language has nothing - NOTHING - that comes close to what it means to love your child. Words like "adore" and "love" and "cherish" are used so frequently about so much of the mundane parts of our lives. We "love" a burger from Five Guys and Fries, don't we? But we also "love" each other. How are the words the same?
I "adore" a really good, strong cup of black coffee but I also absolutely, utterly and consumingly "adore" you, my children. There isn't a word, held in reserve, for only that feeling which has held me in chains since the moment I knew of you.
And maybe that's because THIS feeling, this one in particular that I get to have in my own molecular make-up, defies language. It simply has to live in our hearts, and then one day, so stinging and sad, in our memories. Maybe this feeling is where God lives, it's where goodness resides and it's where the truest, most untouchable and noble purity can be found. I guess that sort of thing wouldn't have a name, after all.
Because we'd cheapen it every day, by using it to describe how we felt about scoring concert tickets, or getting the newest iPhone, or pair of shoes. This feeling I have as part of my own person isn't for a THING. It lives and breathes and grows inside me, every day as you grow. Even after I'm gone it will be here.
And someday I'll be gone, as we all must be.
Even though I don't actively feel my own mother's love, because she has already gone, knowing what I do now, about how this love works, I know she's not done loving me. If she exists somewhere else, like in Heaven or in another soul, or even if she doesn't - if our lives are like candles that just get blown out - that love she had still exists. Because it's too big to go away.
Because it's what I feel right now, and every day for my growing and glorious children. I feel how it gets bigger even when I think it can't be any bigger or deeper or more wonderful. It occupies a whole part of me that I never even knew existed until the moment I laid eyes on you. And that feeling will never die.
It's a goodness that YOU keep. It's on you like a mark.
Those kisses that we blow each other and put in our pockets? Those are real, my lovely boys. And they'll never ever leave you, because whatever this feeling is has to be life itself.
So as long as you live, you have it. You grew inside of me, are made of me and were borne of me. You have been nurtured by me and, yes, "loved" by me. Every minute of every day of every year.
From now until the end of forever.
Liz Alfano is a freelance writer and editor. This post was originally published on her personal blog at www.mydirtywords.com