“The what if’s will kill you,” it’s something Sean used to say to me quite a bit. I’ll admit to the occasional panic about the girls or what might go wrong on an airplane, but other than that I keep it in check. It’s been that way since I gave birth to my Briar, stronger still since we had Avery. Life is just much simpler knowing that the single most important thing is taking care of our girls. Period.

Briar’s arrival was lightning fast, the nurse had barely said, “You’re going to feel an almost involuntary need to push,” to which I responded tremulously, “Ah, ok, I think I’m having that now, can I push?” and bam, she was out. As outstretched arms passed her to me, I accepted her perfect form, long, lean limbs each with five fingers or toes, and her little face, both new and familiar, into my arms and my soul. My eyes locked on her, I tried to surface from the thick, hazy shock of her presence, I had created life. The weight of responsibility settled gently upon my shoulders, rooting my feet to the earth. For the first time in my life I felt as if I belonged somewhere.

When I held her to my breast she suckled without hesitation, we were two, each drawing life from the other. I traced my fingertip along her skin, tremors rocking my exhausted body as I held her, the heart I’d heard on monitors beat against my chest. Tears streamed down my face as I saw myself in her, then there was Sean, and my mom, my dad. She was everyone and no one who’d yet been, and she was here. Finally.

I spent a year focused on nothing but the next moment with her, the next kiss, the next coo. I said once that I lived her. It was true then and still is now, with a twist. Avery has sidled in and planted herself among us. She is beside me and above me, inside and everywhere. Where her sister was slender and lean, Avery was full and robust. Her arms held me as much as mine held her. Our falling in love was so different from what I experienced with Briar, but bore the same traits of devotion and clarity.

Nearly three years since I first held Briar in my arms, and closing in on the end of breastfeeding Avery, I am amazed by the life we have lived in this short time, and all that has yet to be. I do not question why I was given this extraordinary blessing, instead I focus on how I shall honor it. How I can live each day to be the best mama to these two precious girls I have.

I recently came to know a woman who goes by the moniker WhyMommy. Lately she has been writing about her recent diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She is my age. She has two children, one is 3 the other just 6 months old. No doubt she loves her boys as I love my girls. She has not asked for pity, has not railed against the universe. She has not asked why. She has talked almost exclusively about how.


How she’ll beat this cancer.
How she’ll stick around for those boys.
How she’ll fight the desire to curl up.
How she’ll allow family to share her burden.
And how we, her blogging friends, can help.

No pity.
No why’s.
Just how.

How we can check ourselves.
How we can share stories.
How we can support.
How we can stand beside her as she kicks this cancer’s ass.

If you love my girls, her boys, or some other little ones, go visit WhyMommy. Post a comment, or just read her story. Be reminded of how precious life is and how you can live inside of each moment. She is the purest example of life lived fully.

How we love you WhyMommy, how we do indeed.