Let Go

 beach at sunset 
Whenever my son swims, I have flashes of him lying in an ICU bed, intubated. 

Some prick of a neurologist will tell me that my baby is brain dead and I will hate that man forever because of it. I will wait to have someone wheel his body off to harvest his organs. My heart aches with a deep despair and my eyes sting with the promise of tears not yet cried. 

I want to hold on to him.

Don’t go!

There is a smell that patients get when they are gravely ill, in ICU. I smell it over the chlorine. I hear the beeps, the psht…psht…psht of the ventilator instead of the splashing of water and squeals of joy. I can feel his tiny lifeless hand. It used to squeeze mine…

“Mommy! Watch me!”

I want to follow him to the deep end. I want to keep a hold of his swim shorts just in case. Watching from a distance is not good enough. 

I don’t want to loose you.

“Mommy! Are you watching?!?!??”

I am. 

I am watching. 

He is brave. I don’t want to steal his bravery, so I watch from that distance. I wave when he gets to the end as he wipes the water from his eyes, beaming at me. It is hard to love someone that much and not want to smother them.

The ICU pops into my head again as he swims back. I hate that I know the other side so intimately. Countless children die like that each year. Mine could be next. He is just like all of those other kids. 

I miss him already.

“Mommy, I love you.” He has me wrapped in a giant, very wet bear hug. 

Can you see it in my eyes, this battle I wage every day? Wanting to protect you but instead stepping back and letting you have the triumph of that skinned knee, or that bruised rib? If something happens to you I am afraid I will not survive. 

But I let go. I have to.

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118 thoughts on “Let Go

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