Sunday, April 26, 2009

Living in the Land of Fear or Fearing Fear Itself

There is a light that happens every evening, when the warmth of the sun has left and all that lurks are cold shadows, silver streaks and the uncertainty of your very vision. In the Land of Fear this is the light that permeates every moment, wetting the world under it, making things drip with a humid decay. Ruined houses sit in rows, each house the same, each row identical, on and on toward a horizon that never comes. This land stretches on forever.

Cats missing legs or tails or bits of ear pick from garbage left by sad lives. There are small dolls, scraps of paper with unheard or unanswered love notes on them, fish scales and bones. When you walk the streets here you must watch your step, things are underfoot that move.

When your child is diagnosed with anything, this is where you live.

I had a birthday recently. I’m older now. Again. This year I felt the change. I am different, for the first time in a long time I can feel where I am not the same. Not just in the body which bears the scars of the shift. Not just in the heart which has grown with love. Not just in the mind which bends but I have learned will not break. I am different in someplace deeper. I no longer fear anything.

What we have all been told is the worst nightmare, and what most certainly is: the loss of a child whether literal or the death of the child you thought you were to have has happened to us. Our Land of Fear brought home ruined houses filled with empty cribs, snakes curling around peeling slats and moths grown fat from shattered linens. We walked the streets. We could not get out. We could not find the horizon.

But you learn to breathe through this. You follow the bubbles to the surface. You find new light again.

And so I now know the worst can happen and I know that the very worst thing can be the best thing that ever happened to you. And it changes you. Fear lives in the deepest part of each of us. It hides there, peering out with eyes of coal. Every once in a while you see it blink. This is how you know it’s there.

This is not to say that I never feel scared, I still do from time to time. But I no longer care. I can stare back at those eyes. And I, do not blink.


Anonymous said...

I agree!

We have the inner strength to master our responses purposefully to even the most challenging events, and, in doing so, transform ourselves. We do not have to be held captive by fear or sadness. We can experience them fully and grow richer from having been in their shadow.

I admire and respect your strength :)

colin said...


I would love it if you have the time to do a bit of writing on the costello news site.

Let me know if you can, and I will send you the info

Cove col

TUC said...

"I can stare back at those eyes. And I, do not blink." You have become so strong. This post really struck me. I guess I never really reached that point with the fear. I came to accept that the worst might happen at any moment, but I still feared it. Of course after 6 surgeries, you have so much more experience with this than I do. You and Willa are due for some blessings.

colin said...

I know this feeling of loss and fear so well. I still after almost 15 years go into my daughters room and wake her up.

And when I have to I find myself Standing outside the door, listening, knocking and listening again for reassurance that it is safe to enter.

Each day my wife phones to let me know all is OK at home, it has become a ritual, a safety net to help each day to pass without that nagging fear that today may be the last time you get to hold your child.

I know it is crazy, yet I still find myself unable to sleep Until the small hours of the morning.

We watch our children grow, develop, and blossom as the fragile health drops away and they bloom into young adults. Yet I still can not let go of the daily fear.

Thank you for your great blog.