Monday, November 14, 2011
Risky Business (A Mother's Pain)
Everyone’s heard about the pain of motherhood, but the tales from the delivery room don’t begin to cover it. As I held my daughter who was trying with herculean effort to contain her racking sobs, I understood more than ever the utter pain and despair of a mother who would give anything to take her child’s pain away and yet couldn't.
I think back to a happier day, the day my husband, by custom, slaughtered a fattened ram to celebrate the birth of our tenth born. I remember the smiles of my own mother, and the pride I felt at having nine children dressed in white, seated at my feet with the tenth in my arms, contentedly suckling at my breast, validating my womanhood.
Today, I had buried six out of the ten, and my husband had taken the lead into the afterworld. And as I sat in the sterile room consoling my daughter as my grand-daughter fought what was by all indication, a losing battle against cancer, I knew the exact measure of that pain.
My daughter was an insurance expert; risk management was right up there in her alley. And yet when it came to the greatest risk of all, she was just as unprotected as the rest of the world. I remember when her husband was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan days after her daughter was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. My broken daughter looked up to me in despair and asked. “Why is there no insurance against such pain when you can insure your fingernails if you so desired?”
I’d had no answer for her then. And I didn't have any for myself now. I too had been dealt no better cards in the gamble that is motherhood. I always believed the greatest gamble we took with our hearts was falling in love. Now I realize that while it’s true, it’s not the love that drives us to the altar, but the love that wells up when we’re handed that new-born baby that was the costliest chip.