Some Wisdom Found in a Gift
My sister gifted me a couple books for Christmas. One was a Young Adult drama called The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It is a powerful book, one that I am certain have made many people cry. The premise is a teenage girl is living with terminal cancer who falls in love with another teenager she meets in a support group.
As I read there was a scene that caught me in my throat that had nothing to do with her brewing romance with her new beau Augustus. While the main character, Hazel, was in the ICU and on the verge of death (which she ultimately overcame once more) she overheard her Mom say to her Father “What will I do? I won’t be a Mother anymore.”
Hazel kept coming back to this throughout the book, worry about her Mother not being a Mother anymore after she died. By the end of book Hazel talks to her Mother about when she said this, she wants to make sure her Mom will be okay after she’s gone, she is afraid her Mom is defined by her and won’t be able to be anything if she is no longer a Mother.
Her Mom’s reply was (and this is not a direct quote) that as long as either one of them was alive she would always be Hazel’s Mother, that even when Hazel dies, she will still be her Mom. That it would not be possible to ever stop loving her daughter.
But Hazel goes on to tell her Mother she wants her life to continue, she’s afraid her life will stop because it seems like her Mother has defined herself as a Mom first and foremost and if she is no longer a Mom she will no longer have something to live for.
This idea, this whole concept kind of took me off-guard. I’m not sure why, but this idea that Hazel’s Mom was so fearful that she would no longer be a Mother once her daughter was gone rang true for me in some ways. I remember my pregnancy, I was sure that once I placed I would stop being a Mother, I was sure that my life wouldn’t be defined in any way by Motherhood because I wasn’t parenting. But once he was born, once he became so very real to me, I knew that I loved him more than I knew was possible and that no matter what happened, no matter if I never saw him again, I would always and forever be his Mother until we were both gone from this earth. It was at this point, the point I knew that even if I signed away my rights to parent my son I wouldn’t be signing away my love as a Mother that I really fell apart and it was falling apart because I began to realize what it might be to be a Mother living without a child that defined me. It was only then that I fully realized both what I was losing and how entirely it would affect me. It was such a hard place to be in, it is a place I am still in.
The book speaking of this sort of unrelated topics brought all those moments back for me in a very powerful way, but it was the reaction of Hazel that made the most impact. Hazel’s fear that her Mother, upon losing her, would lose too much of herself to still thrive is something I rarely think about. The truth is I am not a whole person anymore, I am missing a big part of my heart because I relinquished my son, and that is a wound I’m not sure will ever fully heal. But I know that if I let that event shape my entire life moving forward, that my son may feel like Hazel did, that I as his Mother have been defined by the loss of my child, by the loss of him. I would never want him to in any way feel responsibility for anything negative in my life. I would have said that he would have no reason to, but then I hear a character like Hazel and her thinking and I realize how I can logically say he has no reason to feel a certain way but that won’t mean he won’t feel it.
Yesterday I wrote about trying to get hope back in my life, that I had become entrenched in feeling defeated and I wanted to find the positives in my life again, to once again believe that I might not be living the life I set out for yet, but that good could still come, things could still turn around. I am working on that, and from here on out on the days where I don’t think I can muster much hope, I will turn back to Hazel and remember that I owe it to my son to not define myself by my loss of him, but rather use the love I have for him to help inspire me to strive for more, for better.