We held a small memorial for a little creature whose ability to receive love taught us all a big lesson: to love is to name is to care is to keep. It is to mourn and to cry, too; and it is to continue to create and care about the living and the dying and the not-yet-born.
One does not need to do anything remarkable to be an object of love. One only needs to be that which it is – cat, boy, mom, dad, human, alive.
Of course, I sat there wishing it were me in the papery gown, making small talk with the technician, feeling the needles press through my skin and tissue with their numbing serum. I wish she were in the waiting room, or better yet, off at school or work or eating too many Oreos with her roommates. I wish she hadn’t felt a lump or spent time searching the internet for possible diagnoses. I wish cancer wasn’t even a fleeting thought in her beautiful brain.
Nothing you do as a parent will shield you from this. Your adorable, sheltered, pink-cheeked cherubs will fling crap at you, they will blame you, hate you perhaps, be embarrassed by you, ignore you, lie to you, call you names. And when they’re grown you will one day wish for the easier battles when your kindergartner packs her Barbie suitcase and decides to run away. You will long for the day you found scribbled, torn and smudged notes hidden in the corner of the room under a pile of stuffed animals, notes that say, I hate mom, she is mean and I hate her.
But you will never give up on them. You will never stop loving them more. You just want another opportunity to give them grace.
“Soul love is the soul of all love.” -John Charles Ryle My mother-love is not enough. It comes up short like a too-small quilt, leaving parts exposed. Although I try and tuck and stretch it so, my mother-love, my parent-love is shy of covering them. My children, those most precious souls, walk around with naked parts. Vulnerable. And that’s okay. My tent of mother-love is stretched taught and tied down to spikes pounded deep into the soil of truth, but my kids quickly outgrow its covering. Like a newborn kicks against tight swaddling, my children need to kick and punch and build muscle, and they cannot be carried in my arms. I have to set them down on hard ground. They have to walk, run, jump, explore and play, trip, fall, get up again. They have to live. And I have to love their souls enough to let them. J.C.Ryle goes on to say to parents, ask this question at every turn, “How will this affect their souls? That is the mighty question.” Indeed. Soul love …
Today we’re going to see the newborn lambs. I told the kids that we were invited to Bella’s painting teacher’s farm. The lambs are just a week old. “Do you want to go with me?” Both were focused on screens when I asked, because, yes, we have a variety of them in our home, but they each looked up and made eye contact with me and declared : “Yes! We’ve never seen a lamb in real life.” So it’s a date. We’ll wear grubby shoes that can stand the muck and we’ll venture into February and farms. We’re city folk and although we have cattle dogs (these adorable corgis), the only herding action they get is with our Russian Blue cat and well, you can imagine how that goes. “Will they be small enough to hold?” I’m asked as I’m whisking my store-bought eggs into a bowl and chopping grocery broccoli for the quiche. Not a farmer. In the least bit, although I’m romanced by the idea for a moment or two. “Perhaps, we’ll see.” …