Honestly? I don’t know if I could live through this year over again. I’m not quite sure how I did it this time. Come to think of it, I nearly didn’t get to.
I don’t know that I’ve ever truly delved into how close I came to death during Atti’s birth, but it was as close as you could get and still have a happy ending. I was strapped down to the table because they were sure I was going to have a stroke or seizure at any moment, and things started to get very dim. I remember the room turning black and starting to drift off when I had to force myself to straighten up. I was like one of those people you see on ER where the nurses are shouting, “Stay with me!”
That experience rattled me in a way that I haven’t quite been able to let go of. That knowledge of my mortality comes to me in unguarded moments and knocks me flat all over again. Just now I put Atti in his crib for his nap and saw the quilt and bumper I made for him after he was born and thought about what his life would be like if I didn’t make it off that operating table. It’s quite a weight to walk around with, and one I’m striving to use productively.
I’m trying to let go of the fear and cherish the awareness that experience has brought me. I’m appreciating the minutia of life in new ways, food tastes better, colors are brighter, and all the other cliches of close calls, but I think more valuable to me is the appreciation it has given me for myself. For my contributions to my family and my world. Maybe this sounds brazenly selfish, but in my fearful moments I don’t think about what I would be missing, I think about the people I’d be leaving behind. Atti without his mom. Bear without his partner in crime. Maybe because of my LDS faith and my view of the afterlife I’m not worried about what would happen to me, but I’m aware of my influence no longer being in the lives of the people I love.
Now I look around my house and I see all of my little nourishing touches. I see the nest I’ve made and the plants that spring up under my care, I watch my little guy grow and reach milestones and feel loved and I get a little thrill that I did all that.
Nearly losing my life made me appreciate life, but it made me appreciate myself, the talents I have to share, the contributions I have to make, the work I put out into the world, the love I have to give, more. I don’t mean to say that it made me appreciate how great I am. I just mean that it made me appreciate that *I* *am*.
I am here, I won’t always be here, no one out there is exactly the same mix of creativity and neuroses and humor and fear and ambition and heart and stubbornness and smarts that I am, so I have to stop apologizing for myself, I have to stop being so worried about what people think of me, I have to stop downplaying my efforts and I have to get to work.
But he’s come so very far.
I am so grateful to be here at the end of another year with my family. It’s all been worth it.