True Life:: I Am Your Worst Nightmare

Christian's Feet

                     Photo by Ally Dodd Photography

I am your worst nightmare.

It’s my sole responsibility for making this exchange between us as normal as possible. Just looking at me makes you tap into primal fear. It’s up to me to make this less awkward for us both. You don’t even look the same to me. The words coming out of your mouth are a language I once spoke too- absent of the choking sadness and the new medical vocabulary that now comes along with being me. In fact, everything about you and the world you live in was something I used to know. Now, I’m your worst nightmare. I represent everything that makes you shudder and hold as tightly as you can to all that you love.

It won’t hurt my feelings if you acknowledge that I’m not the same anymore. In fact, I need you to notice that I’m different. I need you to recognize that who I am now stands for everything that would completely wreck your world too. Why do I need this? Because you will validate my pain.

I’m your worst nightmare; I’m a mother who has lost her child. Because he died.


I hear you when you say I’d be better “getting back into a routine.” If you tell me again that everything “happens for a reason,” I will likely punch you or end up inconsolable on the floor as I’m milliseconds from either behavior at any given time. I haven’t learned yet how to breath in and out with this new weight of grief which suffocates me like a semi-truck filled with rocks sitting on my chest. Unless another initiated member of this horrible club is in the same room, I’m always alone.

Involuntarily, I was sent down this road which leaves me constantly searching for anything familiar and less painful. I wish to God that I could come home. We talk about our needs and worries and I will always win, at least for a while. Please don’t try to relate your bad day or temporary inconveniences to what I have been dealt. Right now…in life…I just trump you, if that’s okay. Also, what I believe I need now has to be alright. And when I’m wrong about what I think I need, I’m still right – because, I don’t know anything anymore. There was no warning preceding this journey I’ve been catapulted into. It’s dark, I have no radio to safety and zero direction.

I know I embody what you fear most in life. I struggle to make you feel better about my situation and I’m trying my best to take ownership of your loss of what to say as this is my burden to bare. I pray you realize how impossibly much I appreciate you, though. Likewise, I wish more than anything that I never hear from you. I wish I didn’t have your attention; that would mean you’re not thinking of me because I didn’t have a baby who couldn’t survive outside of my body.

I wish that we’d connect once a month when you’d “like” his cute milestone pictures. I’d proudly display his age using the obligatory onsie sticker and announce all the things he does and eats because that would mean he’s still here…doing things and eating and breathing and smiling at me and…alive.

If I didn’t hear from you, it means that I don’t know the feeling of him lying on my chest when his little heart stopped beating while mine had to keep going. I’d never know the mornings after and the wake-ups that follow sleep which allowed for temporary amnesia. Like water filling my lungs, reality comes flash-flooding back and I remember not to listen for his cry because his room is still empty. If I never heard from you, it would mean that I don’t know what it feels like to physically ache for someone I’m biologically created to nurture and grow.

I’m a human test-sample of what we both know is a parent’s true ability to survive. I’m living my own worst nightmare so I know I’m living yours too. I’m a mother who’s existing after the death of her child and I’m a woman who is desperate to find happiness in a life I didn’t want. Sure, I’ll have joy; I’ll even laugh sometimes, but I’m stuck in a picture that has been torn into a hundred pieces and put back together again. My picture and I will never be the same.

Please show me you recognize the magnitude of the irreversible shift in the core of my universe. I want things the way I knew them, but please don’t try and make life like it was. That would mean that he never happened and he did. Also, say his name…a lot. Don’t tell me he was beautiful; tell me he is beautiful. “Was” means he’s gone and that makes it real and final and he’s not any semblance of passed-tense to my heart.

So, this is what I’m feeling today, and tomorrow, I can change my mind because I’m allowed to. I’m a momma without her son and for the rest of time I will be searching for the best way to do this life. Please keep showing up for me, even when you think you’re doing it wrong, instead of not showing up at all. Please keep trying, even when I don’t answer, because one day I will and that’s the day I’ll need you the most. Please also remember that unless you can find a way to bring him back, I might always make you feel like what you can offer me isn’t enough, because it just isn’t.

Now, instead of sleep, it’s insomnia that keeps me stuck inside our worst dream. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but from the deepest part of my being, I wish that mine wasn’t the scariest story we have to tell.


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