I Used to Be a Mother
08.10.03 @ 10:24 PM

I used to be a mother.

Years ago now, I carried a child in my womb. I felt him move and kick and stretch and live deep within me. He was my company in the night and my companion during the day. I watched my belly grow and my skin stretch outwards, farther and farther as he unfolded within me. I would place my hands on the bump that was him and feel the energy he held.

I used to be a mother. I was a magnet--everywhere I went, people flocked to me, to touch the miracle that was half of me, when I was a mother.

Now, no one touches me, I am a mother no more.

I remember the pain of meeting him, my son. The pulling, the pushing, the tearing and the tears that I cried when at last he arrived. I remember his ten little fingers and ten little toes. I remember everything from the sound of his first breath to the sound of his father, next to me, crying.

I can track my son's life with tears. A new family, crying together in a spartan delivery room. Tears in the night when he was hungry and wet, or just awake and afraid of the darkness and the solitude. Tears in the afternoon, as he tried to stand and fell. Tears as two lost souls stand before a tiny headstone and weep over their broken dreams.

I used to be a mother.

It's funny how that defines me now. I'm no longer the girl who works on the third floor or the woman on the corner with the pretty flowers. Now when people talk about me, they say, "There goes the woman who used to be a mother," and "That's the woman who has the dead son."

That's the one I hate the most. It sounds like I'm keeping him in my pocket or my broom closet, like I bring him out to show at parties. It sounds like I walk the street corners crying, "Here is my dead son, look at him, here he is."

But that's what I want to do. I want to go up to women in the supermarket--women who can't stop scolding their children long enough to tell you they're sorry for ramming their cart into your ankle--and scream at them that my son is dead and that they shouldn't yell but instead gather up their children into their arms and never let them go. As they tell their children to be quiet and to stop being so rowdy in public, I want to grab onto them and cry and tell them all about my son who died before he could even say my name or jump about and live the life that little boys are supposed to live.

But I can't. I don't want to scare them, and I know that it would scare them. After all, I used to be a mother too.