HF has been internationally away for the last 11 days, and top of that, Khalid choked on a carrot today. Yes, these two are related.
Today Bebeface swallowed a huge piece of carrot at dinner and started gasping for breath. I picked him up, turned him over and slapped him on the back repeatedly before he finally coughed the piece up, vomited, and started crying. The whole episode took twenty seconds at the most, and we had guests over for dinner who, I am sure, probably did not notice anything beyond a baby coughing up a carrot bit and then being carried out of the room. Truth is that I took him out of the room so that I wouldn’t be seen holding him tightly and trying not to cry.
There was a friend of mine, a woman my mother’s age, who I always knew as being very flamboyant, very loud, very sparkly in the way she spoke and the way she acted and the way she dressed. She was the 50-year old with the perfectly blonde hair and the short skirt. I remember once commenting to a mutual friend about how cheerful she always was, and the mutual friend said, “Yes, it’s nice to see her like this now. After her son and husband died she went into depression for a few years.”
I’d had no idea. Her husband and only son had died only a few years ago in a car accident, and not only had she never brought it up, she seemed alright. She was colorful. She was alive.
(I later learned, she was lonely)
When I knew her, I was single and her story seemed like a tragedy. Now that I am a wife and a momma, her story seems like an apocalypse, an ending of life as we know it, a implosion of the universe itself. How does one recover from that? HF has been gone only 11 days, and I think about him constantly. Khalid gave me a momentary scare, and the tiny glimpse of worry, of fear for my child’s life that it caused has had me rattled this entire evening. What if I couldn’t get the carrot out? What if he stopped breathing. God, I don’t want to think of the what-if’s.
(I’ve been staying at the Chateau these past 11 days and last night I shared a room with Hemmie. “It was an interesting night,” she said to me this morning. “You woke up and asked me where Khalid was.” Actually, I’d had a bad dream, and when I woke up, I couldn’t find Khalid and started to panic. He was in bed next to me, right where I left him, but my sleep-heavy eyes missed his warm little bump under the blanket. )
As I read this over I realize it seems strange, maybe even pathetic to be so attached, or so afraid. The truth is that no one but a mother will know how this feels. Erma Bombeck once said that to have a children was “…to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
She was right, and when you factor in the husband you adore, then your heart is neatly halved before it is removed from your chest and sent on its merry way. There’s no way of ever getting it back. You will never stop checking on your child when you know he is asleep. You will pull the covers over your husband if you think he’s cold. You will fret when your husband is late, you will lose sleep when your child is sick. You will dance continually between worry and relief, but being worn at by concern for the ones you love is more sweet than bitter. It is part of life, and it is proof that you love them deeply, and thank God, you have someone to love. SubhanAllah for the pain, because it means you have someone to give your heart away to.
Better the ache of love fulfilled than the emptiness of lonely regret.