This post was submitted as part of The Mother Letter Project.
I don't know if every mother is like this or if I'm especially morbid. Ever since my daughter was born, I've had visions of losing her to an accident or sudden illness. Maybe everybody has these fears, but if we all share them, we certainly don't talk much about it.
While I was pregnant, or maybe when I had a newborn, I read an article written by a woman who'd lost her daughter at age 4. I don't remember the events surrounding the child's death, but I'm haunted still by the way her mother described her own grief: missing the feeling of her daughter's head snuggled into the crook of her neck, her arms aching to carry her weight just once more.
I often catch myself after I've pushed away my own child's attention or affections, when I've been too caught up in what business must be done, the household tasks to be completed. I wonder how I would feel if my little girl were gone. How much I would miss the interruptions, the distractions, the giggles and wiggles and snuggles and songs.
The other night, I was passing my daughter's door on the way to bed. I stopped in for a peek at her as she slept. I leaned down to brush a stay curl off her cheek and tucked the blanket around her shoulder. I thought, again, of the agony it would be to miss her if she were no longer here.
As I was leaving the room, it hit me. There is no "if" about it. I am going to lose her. It may be soon or years from now, by accident, illness, or simply growing up, but the girl she is now will be gone. For the first time, I realized she won't be mine forever. I will look back and have moments of sadness that she doesn't snuggle against my chest anymore or clamber up into my lap to play on the computer, and I will miss her.
Whether she is living here on earth or has moved on to heaven, my daughter won't be mine anymore. And maybe, when that happens, I'll begin to understand that she never really was.