Through motherhood I've learned how a birth is really a death and that dying is really just a most unfathomable rebirthing.
Every since I can remember I have been scared of dying. I have memories from when I am barely two, in the care of Mado and Papi who's house I would spend long hours at while my mother, single and working, provided for me. Their duplex was filled with smells of meaty tomato sauce simmering, cigarette smoke clouds weighing atop our heads, an abundance of heavy pastoral gold framed paintings and plastic toys encumbering every nook. But most vividly I remember her long black floral skirts. Those red, vibrant roses seemed to speak directly to me; contrasted against black cotton, I experienced true fear at not knowing from where or what or how they are blooming. I see roses blooming out of nothingness and I'm barely two years old having my first existential crisis.
Thus must have began my journey of fearing and grasping tightly.
I am 7 or 8 years old in the passenger seat on the highway. My eyes land on a tall billboard advertizing the closest flower shop, Rose Drummond, sending my thoughts to spin once more into the fear of the nothingness out of which flowers bloom, into the uncertainty of how the speed of our car could send us crashing. I am buckled tightly into my fragile and mysterious ephemerality and a perfectly carefree moment turned pure anguish.
My shortness of breath and panick attacks must have started in the 4th grade, the year my mother's brother passed away tragically. There's an intimidating child psychologist, irrelevant asthma pumps and a brown paper bag I'm told to breathe into, confusion because of how little sense it all makes. Despite well meaning attempts to understand, I keep my fear of living and dying a deeply guarded secret, unsure any other human being could possibly relate to it.
As a teenager, I grasp onto works of magical fiction and theology, a scattered apart family, friends who are way more busy than me and boys who can't love me. Slowly believing death may not be so scary and unbearable after all lands me medicalized and stripped of my power and much self-certainty but by then, I have experienced enough moments of creative bliss and oneness with nature to know that theirs is not my truth.
Bruised but not thwarded, I start to find healing through art and activism and the fellow sensitive beings I meet in college. My first week in my new school I am quietly eating my lunch on the eighth floor amongst eclectic, kind and communal folks when I hear of an armed man shooting people on the ground floor; the fear I've been imagining all my life becomes real with the hair on my body rising and my whole being turning ice cold as hundreds of us exit together yet alone through the emergency staircase and onto siren and ambulance filled streets. In the safety of my bed that night, I soak in cleansing tears and the knowing that I could easily have been the young woman who was killed; mine one of the 20 bodies wounded. I am warm in my bed surrounded by books I want to read and pictures of places I dream of going and in my grief I know better than to continue wasting any of it.
Days turn into months and tired of my legs trembling at the slightest sight and sound I decide on my eighteenth birthday to gift myself the present of jumping into the driver's seat of my life; to start creating my own reality, and chase after my own truth.
Thus must have began my journey of love and surrender.
I am travelling the globe, seeking my new identity in foreign languages, getting aquainted with my body through exotic food, outdoor living, manual work and the most breathtaking and far-reaching landscapes I can find, my smile as my main form of communication. Seeking meaning, connection and love propells me to journey across the country and land in a tiny fruit picking town thousands of miles from home. Its in the crux of a valley who's name means 'the meeting of the four winds' that I meet a man wandering equally far from home, reflecting back the same brokenness, beauty and strength I also carry.
It's the beginning of my dismantling as from this moment on I am no longer just me; my "I" becomes 'we' as out of blind trust we choose to form a union encompassing also the tangible seed of love for our child not yet born. With that first kiss I feel motherhood tug at my womb; six years later I yearn to fill it. Outwardly we still appear far from settled and 'ready' but I know beyond a doubt from the depths of the rivers inside me that I'm willing to nurture a love greater than me... to flow into my power and capability. Through trust and surrender, acceptance and letting go, I birth our perfect baby boy.
Slipping into the vastitude and unequivocal joy of being Mother didn't happen over night for me. It's in the repetition of our tiny mundane moments that our bond became strong and our souls so intertwined. It's through learning and failing, getting back up as often as it takes, and delving into my self-awareness by letting go of everything I think I know one by one, holding space for my little one to guide ME and emerge as HIS self rather than what I want him to be. Day in and day out he becomes my growing reflection of the inherent wholeness and freedom within me. He is the healing and becoming I never could have conceived of alone, he is the meaning, love and union I have always been searching for.
Looking back on where I started, I cannot say I fear life nor death anymore. I know both are really the same sacred fabric, a luminous cloth I want to wear with grace and no longer hide under. Letting go of the past, rebirthed into Love, and blooming out of nothingness, I finally know a death is really a birth and that what comes after letting go is just too grand and beautiful to comprehend intellectually. So I let my heart lead my body, and nurture our fragile, ephemeral, mysterious and sacred Life together by Loving.