I look into his eyes.  Rather, I dive into his eyes – deep, dark pools, out of proportion to his head, really – totally open and staring at me, looking at me as if I am the only person in the universe.  It’s as if he has never really seen me before, has never seen who I really am.

I have spent hours – days, even – staring at him as he lay on his side sleeping — and surely he has looked at me before.  Looking is different than seeing.

I know that I love him, that I will always love him.   More…  I know that I can never not love him.

I want to give myself to him – I never give that a second thought.

I have told myself, for months now, that I want this.  But, before this moment, I had no idea – really – what that meant.  Other people have told me about this kind of love, but I’ve never felt it before.  I’ve always been wary of love, scared to give my love without any conditions.

He’s changed that.

Now, there is certainty.  I thought there would be a moment when I would get to decide: “Ok, I’ll take the risk”.   It wasn’t like that at all.   One minute, it wasn’t there and the next minute, it was all there.   I couldn’t have stopped it if I wanted to.

I am laughing – what a silly conversation with myself – not wanting to love him like this?  Not even an option.  And, in that “no option,” there is freedom.

I touch his skin.  He doesn’t flinch or blink or acknowledge it in any way. He keeps looking at me, and I lean over and kiss his forehead, his cheek, his ear.   I am full of him.

I whisper, “I love you”.

He’s looking at me.  I know he loves me.  I have no doubts.

Again I whisper, “I love you.  I love you more than anything in the world.”   There, I say it.  I declare it – for him, for all the world –  and for me.  The commitment I’ve always wanted to make is right there for me to step into.  I have no choice.  I don’t want a choice.  If there is one, the choice is between loving him and loving him.  There is nothing else.

I drop my gaze for a moment as I let it travel over his body – his perfect body, with his perfect hands and his perfect fingers.  He touches my finger as I reach for his hand.  That is enough for him.  He holds on firmly – not so tight that it is desperate, but not lightly either.  A touch that says, “You and I are together”.

I look up again into his eyes to find them still looking at me.  I melt into him even more, if that is even possible. How could it be possible to love him even more than I loved him just a few seconds before?  As I dive deeper into my love, each moment brings some new layer, some new richness and, with it, even more freedom.

I could stay this way forever.

“Mrs. Feuer?”

I look up.  The nurse stands there, not wanting to interrupt.

It is time.  I know it and she knows I know it.  I don’t want this to end.

“Mrs. Feuer, he has to go back into his incubator.”

I look back down at him.  I don’t want to give him up, but I also know that she’s helped me steal a few moments.   The neo-natal intensive care unit doesn’t allow you to hold them until they are 4 pounds.  I don’t want her to get in trouble.

One more look, one more hug, one more declaration: “I am your Mommy. I love you.  I will never leave you, ever.  I’m right here.”

He’s still looking at me.  Even as I lift him and lay him in her arms, he tracks my face.   She turns and puts him back into his incubator.  I don’t move.  I feel like my heart has just been ripped out of my body.  Is this what it is to be a mother?

I watch as she takes the blanket off his skinny little body and lays him inside his warm, see-through egg-like compartment.  She hooks his tubes back up to their machines.   When she is finished, she closes the incubator and walks away.  The tears are rolling down her cheeks.  She doesn’t want me to see, but I do.

I get up from the stool and walk over and look down at him.  He is still looking at me, but with the glass between us, it seems less intimate.  It wasn’t so long ago that we were one body.  Now,  I am here and he is in there.  We are only inches apart.  Still…

I put my hand in through the hole in the side of the incubator and touch his hand.  Again, he grabs on.  I bring my head near to the hole and I whisper through the opening:

“I love you, Joshua.”

He just looks at me.

Deliciously, deliciously yours,  Linda

This is my son, Josh Feuer, with me on Mother’s Day this past May.  He’s 31, healthy, brilliant, wonderful — and I’m still loving him more and more each day!

He was born an RH baby at 32 weeks and spent the first 8-1/2 weeks of his life in neonatal intensive care, after 6 exchange transfusions to save his life.

This photo was taken at the Cervantes statue near NYU in lower Manhattan.

Hi, it’s Linda here again… back from a visit with my son, Josh, and Oh, what a delicious visit it was….!

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love Josh!   He is the Great Blessing of my life…   AND, it hasn’t always been easy between us….

Let me first tell you that the dream of my life was always to have a child…   I can pinpoint the moment I knew…

One night when I was 12, I was babysitting at our neighbors’  across the street. They had a tiny baby.  I had never babysat a “real” baby before.  I thought he would sleep the whole time, but he didn’t. He cried and cried and cried – that little “new-baby-cry” that sounded like he couldn’t catch his breath.

I was afraid to touch him.

I called my mother and begged her to come over.  She did.  She went into the baby’s room, picked him up and put him on the changing table. I stood next to her as she opened his diaper. She never said a word, but she stopped for a minute and so I looked. What I saw was disgusting to my 12 year old sensibilities – the baby was raw from his waist to his knees, the diaper reeked of urine, and brown poop lay slathered over the red skin like warrior markings.

My mother started to do what I knew she knew best – taking care of children who couldn’t take care of themselves. She was ever so gentle as she cleaned that baby up. As she took care of him, he started to calm down. She put Vaseline all over him – thick layers of the stuff to block out the hurt and the pain. He stopped crying. She diapered him and picked him up. She rocked him on her shoulder, patting his back and crooning to him, until he fell asleep. She put him back in his crib.

I was in awe of her.

I decided, right then, that I was going to have a baby and I was going to be a mother just like my mother – and no child of mine was ever going to feel hurt or pain…

Ever…

And, well….  It doesn’t always go like that, does it?

For years, when Josh was little, it seemed that life was easy and happy – I joke that the three of us were like “The Three Musketeers”, always together, full of adventure and fun…

Life didn’t go on like that forever… Fred and I started to lose who we were in our marriage… we did what we did and we knew Josh had a hard time with that…

Separation and divorce are never easy for a child, no matter how old they are…

For Josh, well… he had to go through it twice…

Fred and I first separated when he was six years old. We stayed apart for two years and then we wanted to try again to make our marriage work…

The next six years were progressively painful for all of us. By the time Fred and I separated the second time, Josh was fourteen…

He chose to live with his Dad…

Since then, Josh and I have been riding a roller-coaster of emotion, trying to repair what neither of us dared to even speak of…

A pattern emerged out of the way we were together… if I said “black,” he said “white”… and then I would spend a lot of time defending “black” as if being a good mother were at stake…

Oh, we loved each other, for sure… that was never in doubt… we just weren’t always present to the love…  As a result, we didn’t have an easy, comfortable way with each other… we were both anxious, tentative, and finally…  automatic…

“Hi, Josh, it’s Mom… How’s work?”

“It’s fine. How are you?”

There would be a bit of news on either side… then…

Silence.

“Ok, Honey… I’ll let you go… I love you…!”

“Love you, too, Mom…”

Click.

When we agreed that I’d come to Minneapolis for a visit, I was determined that this time it would be different. I was committed to shift something in this relationship. I wasn’t willing to let it go on like this for one more minute…

I was willing to do anything to create the space for that to happen…

I cleared myself with a few of my committed listeners.   My friends were ruthlessly compassionate with me:   “Linda, you are either going to spend your life defending and explaining or you are going to listen to him and love him no matter what he says.   You can’t have both…”

A little scared… off I went to Minneapolis…

I started on Saturday by saying, “Josh, I know that there is something between us…”

He interrupted me, “Mom, not here at breakfast… Let’s go home and talk about this….”

When we got to his apartment, I tried again, “Josh, you can say anything you want to say to me…   I am here to listen…”

And, listen I did… for hours….

What he said is not for here… and it’s not what is at the heart of the matter, anyway… What IS the essence – the life — is that the way he saw it is the way it happened for him — and I needed to get that…

It was not easy. He spoke of things from when he was 9, when he was 13 – and times before, after, and in-between…

There were moments I wanted to jump in and say, “No, that’s not what happened…” and I remembered my friends’ caution… “Whatever way it is for him is the way it is for him… Just BE with it… That is the only way to honor him…”

Every time I wanted to correct his perception, I watched myself WANT to do that — and what went through my mind was, “this is not about being right about anything… this is about loving him…”

The more I listened, the more he said…

By four in the afternoon, we were both quiet….

What I did finally say was, “Josh, I am committed to having an extraordinary relationship with you….”

And, he said:

“Mom, I am committed to having an extraordinary relationship with you, too….”

We stopped the “heavy stuff” and proceeded to have a great weekend… He cooked for me, we watched a movie on TV and I scratched his head like I always did when he was a little boy….

The next day, he was still impatient with me and I was still trying too hard to be a “good mother”…

Old patterns die hard….

But, something had shifted… something transformed…. the impatience was more playful, the “good mother” was not so righteous… or needy…

He drove me to the airport early Monday morning. As I kissed him “Good-bye” and turned to go… I knew that we had done something huge that weekend…  I was at peace.

If anyone had told me when I was 12 that I could ever hurt my child or cause him pain, I would have said that it was not possible….

What I learned is that there are other ways to hurt a child besides leaving him in a urine-soaked diaper…

We do what we do in any moment because that is our level of consciousness at that time…

It is a gift to be able to grow in awareness… to take responsibility for what we have done and to acknowledge the impact it has on the people around us… and commit to something new, something greater, something full of love and compassion for who they are….

And… for who WE are…

Anything is possible now for me and Josh ….

I have no idea what that looks like…

Now, THAT’S an adventure worth having…

Deliciously yours in the Glory of it All,  Linda

“Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise, sunset…
Sunrise, sunset…
Swiftly flow the years.
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.”
…from “Fiddler on the Roof”

This is my son, Josh Feuer…  An amazing man, if I do say so — and not just because I’m his mother…..  xoxo

How did I learn to listen like this?  See www.landmarkeducation.com.

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