I never thought of myself as the earth mother type. But the day the paediatrician handed our first born into my arms and said, "Don't be afraid of what you have to do to look after this baby. Motherhood is like water, it'll find its own level," I was transformed. Every wish, desire, aspiration and ambition I had for myself became secondary. Then our second son was born. Once again, I held a little helpless baby in my arms and wondered at the magic of motherhood. Any doubts I had about whether I had enough love to stretch to two disappeared; as not only did it stretch, it grew exponentially...
Five months before Shekhar died, I discovered a lump in my breast. It came on suddenly and grew quickly until it was visible to the naked eye. Since it was accompanied by weight loss, thoughts of malignancy were never far from my mind.
For over two months till when I could get it tested under the NHS, Shekhar and I panicked, worried and thought of the worst. Then the earth mother kicked in and I did what I do best, I made a list of scenarios. "If this happens, then..." We never told the children till the day I had to go to hospital. It was all according to the plan. If all was okay there was nothing to worry about, if it wasn't then they would have to deal with it. I had a plan for that too. I came home after the extraction and waited...it was benign, the body's detritus. I had prepared for a protracted battle but was sent home from the enlistment centre.
Three months later, looking at Shekhar's still warm body in the hospital, my first thought was - it should have been me. I was prepared, ready. The wrong parent had been taken and God's fingerprints were everywhere...
Since then I have struggled to get out of bed each morning, wanting to hide from life and its vicissitudes. I have pushed against the resistance for one reason and one reason alone - the two beautiful gifts Shekhar left behind. One parent may have gone, why put them through the torture of losing both?
The other day, our youngest expressed the crackling wit of his father. Then he looked at me and said in jest, "It's your fault, you gave birth birth to me." It was a timely reminder of the privilege with which I have been blessed. The bitterness of being abandoned at the post of parenthood faded. It made me realize, I may be the wrong parent...but at least I am still here. God's fingerprints were here too.
Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.
From Phaedra by Sophocles