Planes, Ferries, Automobiles & Mother Nature…
I have been riding transport for three days now. Two planes, three ferries and three cars that were a Godsend. It has been a lot. Amazing how much transport I had to do to get to the middle of nowhere…
And yet, I am grateful. For all of this. The time away, with him even though he is mostly hateful and cussing. Or checked out. I am actually acutely grateful for the check out…
We are on the last leg of our shared journey. Once we dock in Hollis, he will go one way and I will go another. I honestly don’t really know where either of us is going. Him into the woods and across the water. Me, I am told that I have lodging, but I don’t really know anything more than that.
This entire journey has been on faith and little else. Well my credit card is feeling the pain. And of course it isn’t about the money, it is about doing everything I can do to save a life, a life that I helped create, and a life that has become a most hard force in my life. And even as hard as it is for me, it is harder for him, even as he pretends it isn’t. I know what it is to walk through incredible pain and pretend it doesn’t hurt, that it isn’t happening. I know because I lived that way for years.
I see his pain, I see his confusion, even under all the ire and wrath. I see it and it only kills me slightly that it is mostly aimed at me. I am the one he holds accountable for the divorce, the birth of his sister, the absence of his father. I am the one that gave him “bad genes.” I am the one that failed him. And while all of those things sting, I know they are not true. I know that I have shown up for him every day of his life. Sometimes that has meant lying next to him in a four hour nightly bedtime routine, tickling his back or arm until he finally falls asleep. Sometimes it has been grounding him and telling him no. Sometimes it has been allowing him to go live with his dad even when I didn’t think it was what was best for him. And now it is traveling to the last frontier and dropping him off in the dark woods of Alaska and praying that I am doing the right thing.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I had to begin letting go. Letting go of what I wanted, how I thought it should progress. When I was six months pregnant they told me he had Trisomy 18 and that he would not live to see his first birthday. I cried for days but knew that as much as I feared that being true, that it wasn’t. The child that grew inside me was going to live.
The day he was born was one of the happiest day of my life. And we have had so many good days since then. So very many. I will never forget the walks we used to take when he was little, walking on the beach, hand in hand. Him talking to me about every little thing he saw. Telling me, asking me, it was so wonderful, when he thought that I knew things. Now, he believes that I know nothing, I have become an irritant. A nag. A pain in his ass. And I know this is part of the process of life, all teens feel this way about their parents to one degree or another — I just wish his was a little less than 100% sure I was an idiot and in his way.
I had to let go the first day I took him to daycare and cried all the way home. Then again at each new school, walking away while his little faced peered around the corner with tears in his eyes.
I had to let go when he went into his first treatment, then his second and then his third. And now I am letting go again. Praying that this time it will be different. That he will stop fighting me at every single turn and he will get some gratitude for the very privileged life he has been given.
So I travel to a new place I have never been. An island in the middle of nowhere Alaska. I learn to let go more, differently, harder, better, again. How can I say again when I have never been here before? Because it is always and forever a process that started over sixteen years ago and will continue for the rest of my life.
Motherhood changes you. Forever. I am not the same person I was before motherhood. How could I be? I am not the same mother I was to him when he was born, when he was two, when he was eight and now as he rounds into sixteen, I am called to be yet another version of mother to him. And I can honestly say that I have always felt unprepared. Not overwhelmed though it has been at times. But unprepared for how this particular journey of mothering would fundamentally change me, ask of me things that I am not sure that I possess.
While I will always be his mom, I am turning him over to another Mother today. Mother Nature. I have done my best and still we are in a place of pain, misery, abuse and isolation. So I am doing the only thing I know to do, to release more. Let go more. To return him to the wild world where things are not guided by how much you have, or how great you look, or anything like that. I hope that he wakes every single day and marvels at the natural world. I hope he sees eagles and ospreys, may they watch over him and keep him safe. May he see salmon and trout and may they remind him that we all return home to ourselves in the end. Our journeys may take us far away but in the end, we are always returned to ourselves. May he see wolves, coyotes and bear and may they remind him that there are in fact forces more powerful than him in this life. And those forces if not respected, will kill you dead. May he wake up every day to the rising sun and thank God or whatever goodness exists in this life that he is alive. May he take it all in, far in, into his soul, his heart and mind. May he be given a fresh perspective and new appreciation for his place in this life, on this earth. May he find out that he is not alone, but part of a larger whole. That every action taken effects others, it cannot be otherwise. He is part of the web of life, whether or not he likes it.
May he find himself in the verdant fern, the willowy pine. May he walk hand in hand with the Divine and recognize that that same thing exists inside him. He is the verdant fern, the willowy pine. He is them and they are he.
I turn him over to you most knowledge Mother Nature. I have done my best, I truly have. But he needs more mother than I can muster now. So I turn him over to you so that you may return him to himself. You are the mother of all mothers. I have to believe that you have attributes that I do not. You know things that I could not possibly know. You teach with forests, streams, oceans and sky. You teach with moss, grass, and slippery rocks. You teach with the wild. The gravity of the natural world. I pray that the wild tames him while also lights him on fire for this life. I know I have failed, but perhaps you will not.
It is hard to let go of your child. All parents must or both child and parent live a stunted life. I want more for my son. I want him to learn what the eagles know. I want him to look around and marvel at the crushing beauty of life. I want him to live each of his days proud of himself, right sized in his abilities and grateful for another day. I want him to realize that the best thing a person can ever be is of service to another person, plant or animal on this earth. And that without service, there is really no point. If the goal is to get it all and keep it for yourself, you have missed the point of life…
Motherhood turns out to be the best/worst lesson I have ever had in letting go. With every word that falls upon this page, I feel hopeful and destroyed at the same time. So I have to let go of that too. The delicate balance of holding on and letting go, I am never sure I get right. If there even is a right. But somehow through all of my confusion and missteps, I have arrived here this morning. My son tucked away in a hammock in a tree somewhere, waking to this new day, the first in a new beginning for him. The tears fall because how could they not?
I sit with my salvation: coffee, writing and the dawning of a new day. I trust motherhood, the innate process that I so willing began never knowing how hard it would be, how much the ask, how difficult the journey. And as I reflect, I know that it was worth every painful step that got me to right here, right now. I love him and that is all I can feel right now. The love. A mother for her child, fierce, loyal, unbreakable. I would walk through fire for him, and right now, it feels as though I have. I feel burned, charred and sore from all the fires that have burned so hotly in my home. I am in critical care. My immune system weakened. But Mother Nature, she is buoyant and blissful. She takes the ravages of man and casts them aside. She knows a knowledge that can only come from hundreds of millions of years.
I give my son to you. I trust that you can teach him all that I could not. I trust that you love him as I do. I grieve my own inadequacies and I pray that you will help him find the sweet benevolence that abides in every rock, leaf and flower. Grant him access to these things because I know he will find salvation there. Thank you my mother friend. I release him unto you.