Lately it’s felt a bit as if I am suspended in some sort of alternate reality wherein I am unable to get anywhere. I cannot seem to gain purchase at work or at home, at play or asleep. Or just being.

I am fretting over what will inevitably (please, please) be some little thing or another rather than the dark foreboding thing my mind makes it. My worry is quiet and under the surface, but coincides perfectly with an abiding obsession for Briar and Avery with death.

“Mama, please you promise you won’t go to heaven?”

I tried for a while to dance around it and make like I’d never go to heaven, but then I worried about jinxes and let downs.

“Honey, it’s going to be a long, long time before I got to heaven. You’ll be a mama and maybe even a grandma before I go.”

This worked for a while and then it became, “Mama, I am going to miss you so much when you are in heaven.”

I am at my wit’s end with lobbing light-hearted answers all the while wondering if I am indeed in a perilous place, due to hear some awful diagnosis, in which case oughtn’t I be saying something sage and enduring for the time when I am in fact gone.

“Mama, I said I’ll miss you when you’re in heaven,” lower lip out, petulant and feigning sadness. I think the concept is too much for them to grasp and they only ever really flirt with the idea before it’s chased away.

“Girls, I am making every decision I can to be as healthy as I can, for as long as I can. I don’t want you to worry about heaven, just remember that no matter where I am I love you more than anything and I miss you.”

They smile and ask for snacks and books, puzzles and drinks. I let myself dally in these moments, fetching a cup and singing or goofing at FIn in her highchair, constructing a Diego puzzle and watching their fingers as they test each piece. My peace as I let everything slip away is infectious.

The girls climb over me, faces burrowing in my neck, hands upon my back and sides. We wrap our legs around each other, giggle and spin until it is hard to tell where one ends and another begins. I feel them, eager as I am, to hold these moments, to freeze the emotion and keep the next thing away.

I wish it weren’t fear that allowed me to hold on like this, and instead it was simply a defiance, a healthy attitude that boasts, “It’s mine for the taking and I’ll take it, thank you very much.”

And so, much like the roar I charged my friend with, I am now throwing out this other challenge:

Take it. Take the time to yourself, the time with your kids, the $45 mascara, whatever it is, go and claim it.
Not doing so doesn’t make you noble, it just makes you empty.

Excuse me, while I go cuddle with the father of my three magnificent sleeping girls.