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.

My mother’s been gone for as many years as my son is old – he was born prematurely on August 24th, 1979, and spent the next 9 weeks in neonatal intensive care, a victim of my own RH-Negative blood protecting me against the perceived intruder that his RH-Positive blood seemed to be.  After an intrauterine transfusion three weeks prior, it was time to take him out.  My body was killing him.

The next week, my mother went into intensive care in a hospital in New Jersey with angina – and died of a heart attack on October 2, 1979 on the day she was to be released.

Josh came out of the hospital 10 days after she died.

She saw him once.

It was on the day after he was born.  She stood outside the ICU, looking through the glass – at his little, less than 4 pound body lying on a light-table, with infant straps holding him in place while the nourishing lights took away his jaundice, waiting for the second of his seven exchange transfusions before he would be OK.  I stood by his infant bed and waved at her, all smiles, oblivious to the scary scene of tubes from the ceiling, incubators with babies that were so small, they didn’t even look human, weeping  parents in one corner, saying good-bye to their early infant who would die an hour later.  I saw her crying – crying for my son who was born early and sick, and crying for me, that I would have to go through this scary time, wondering if my baby would survive, scared for me that I could have no more after this one.

Mother’s Day is always a roller-coaster ride  for me:  I’m so happy and so blessed that Josh is my son – just talking to him puts me on such a high.  Then, I think of my mother, and the missing her is almost too much, even today, 30 years later.  I go back and forth, between those two places, all day, every Mother’s Day.

I feel two ways about that, too.  I’m sad she’s gone and that she never got to know my son and he never got to know her – a sadness that stands as the great sorrow of my life.  Then I remember how she loved me, how she brushed my hair in her lap, even when I was an adult, how happy she always was to see me, how — even when I was angry, she never bought into that – rather, she was concerned for my well-being as I raged, worried about my blood pressure, calming me with her always soft voice and manner.

I feel blessed that she was my mother and that I had her for as long as I did.  She saved me in many ways I cannot say here  right now — she formed me in every way that is good and true on this earth.

She wasn’t that way only with me.  Not only did she love all of us, her four children, she loved ALL children.  That was her thing — children.

I remember once when I was dating my soon-to-be husband.  He had been married before and had two young children, Brian and Cindy.  I was very jealous of them.  I wanted Fred all to myself and that wasn’t possible – thank goodness.  I should have seen that the ferocious way he protected his relationship with them would be the same way he would protect his relationship with our future children – with our son.

Fred wanted his children to be with us for Thanksgiving.  I wanted to go to my parents’ – with just Fred.  We fought about it, and finally he told me that I could go to my mother’s house – he was going to spend Thanksgiving at a restaurant with his kids.

A few days before Thanksgiving, my mother asked if Fred was coming.  I told her that no, he was going to be with Cindy and Brian.  She said, “Why doesn’t he bring them here?  They shouldn’t be spending Thanksgiving in a restaurant.”  I looked down, silent, feeling the hot shame crawl into my cheeks.  I knew that I was being selfish and unreasonable.

My mother turned to look at me.  Her silent appraisal got it all.  She came over to me, gently picked up my chin in her hand, looked at me and said, almost in a whisper, “Linda, they’re just children.  They’re innocent.  You can’t let yourself be like that.  It will take all the love away.  Please let them come here.”  I nodded my head without looking back at her or speaking.  Then, her voice became excited.  She said, “It will be so nice to have young children here again.  I would really like that.”

She always knew what to say.  I let out a deep breath I didn’t know I was holding.  That’s when I hugged her – hugged her so hard that she laughed and pulled back and said, “I know you love me! – Do you have to hug me to death?”

We had the best day that Thanksgiving – my mother hovered over those children, bringing them whatever they wanted, taking care of them – and, by taking care of them, she was taking care of me and Fred, too.  Fred was relieved.  He looked at me in gratitude.   I think it made him love me more.   I knew my Mom was right.

As she always was…

I miss her.  I always will.  Oh, I know she’s always with me, and I even pray to her.   But, what I wouldn’t give to hug her once more until she laughs and  pulls away and says, “Linda, I know you love me…”

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Deliciously yours in the Huge Mother Love that is today, Linda

This is my mother, standing on my grandparents’ porch, looking at us playing in front of her.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

chocolateart21

What a great celebration is Mother’s Day! The day we show our mothers what they mean to us, the day we remember all the good stuff – and, for us as mothers, the day we look back and say… “I think I did some really great things here… Now where are those memories…? Hmmm, let me think…”

One of my son’s favorite stories to tease me with is that – to this day, I am brought to tears about leaving him at camp when he was ten years old…. something he’s long forgiven and forgotten, but which can still reduce me to a blubbering lump of soggy mess just to think about having to peel him off my body as I turned to go to the parking lot, leaving him to cry inconsolably behind me…..

AND…

I have LOTS of good moments to remember – and TONS of great ones… Moments that remind me that there were many times that I got it right….

Here’s one of the sweet ones….

Joshua was four — and he had a play-date at our house. His little friend, Evan, came over, and his mom brought a plate of chocolate chip cookies for the boys to share…

They had a great time that afternoon. Joshua’s nanny, Daisy, who was an amazing and BIG woman from Jamaica, took the boys to the park where they ran and played and tumbled and threw balls and ate all those cookies! What a great time they had!

The next day, I noticed the cookie dish that Daisy had washed and set on the dining room table, waiting to take it back over to Evan’s house. It caught my eye that it looked particularly beautiful, which I hadn’t noticed before, and so I picked it up and turned it over – the inscription on the back said “Baccarat.” I shook my head – who sends chocolate chip cookies over in a Baccarat candy dish?

As I sat at the table, doing some work I had brought home with me, Joshua and Daisy came into the room – Joshua was dressed to go out in the cold weather, all bundled up in his parka and mittens with his fuzzy cap on and his hood over it and tied up under his chin. For such a skinny little kid, he looked like a big, round, blue puffball!

As Daisy picked up the dish, Joshua reached up and, in his little squeaky voice, he said, “Daisy, let ME! I can carry that to Evan’s house.” Daisy shook her head and reached for the plate, “No, I’ll take it, Joshua, you might break it.”

Joshua was crushed. Even at four, he was a careful child, very sensitive and precise – I saw him shrink before my eyes…

I quickly jumped in, “Daisy, Joshua can take the dish to Evan’s house.” She shot me a surprised glance and started to protest, but I turned to look at my son…

“Daisy, I have confidence in Joshua – he’s a very careful boy and I feel confident that he will bring the dish back to Evan’s house and it will be just fine.”

With a sigh, Daisy started to put the dish back in Joshua’s hands. He said, “Wait, Daisy, I have to take my mittens off so I can hold it better.” Daisy didn’t say anything – she just turned to look at me. It was February and cold outside – was I really going to let him go out without his mittens on?

“What a good idea, Joshua! See, Daisy? I told you Joshua is a careful boy!”

They walked out the door together, this big woman – 250 pounds, easy! – and my little blue puffball, walking carefully and slowly, holding the dish in his two hands at chest height in front of him, watching it every minute as he took one slow step after another…

Daisy shot me one last glance as if to say, “I hope you know what you’re doing….”

The answer to that is yes, I did know what I was doing — and what I was doing was giving my son an opportunity to show what he could do, giving him the gift of possibility that yes, indeed, he could be careful and he could be responsible and he could do that all by himself.

Did it ever cross my mind that he might drop the dish?

Yes, it did. And, if he did, I would have replaced it and I would have been very, very sorry with Evan’s Mom. However, it would have been just a broken dish – albeit Baccarat! – and easily replaced.

Joshua’s self-esteem was much more valuable to me – his sense of himself, his confidence in his own ability to handle challenging tasks – well, that was priceless to me – and, if broken, that could never be repaired or replaced.

A half hour later, they returned. Joshua walked in the door… He was all puffed up — and it wasn’t just about the jacket!!

“I did it, Mommy! I brought the dish to Evan’s and I didn’t break it!”

I picked him up and held him high — and pulled him in close to me, full of love for him. “I am so proud of you!” I said.

I brought him back down to the floor and kneeled in front of him. As I helped him take his jacket off so that I could get close enough to give him the biggest hug ever, I said, “What’s even more important is that you’re proud of yourself. Are you?”

“I’m SO proud of myself,” he said. He was beaming!

I pulled him close and hugged him tight…. and I knew that there wasn’t a candy dish or any dish or any “thing”, for that matter, anywhere on earth that was worth more than what I gave my son that day….

That day, I got it right…..

This is for me and for my mother and for my mother’s mother and for all those mothers who worry and wait and try and cry and go to bed exhausted at night, all for the love of their children…

Happy Mother’s Day!

Deliciously yours in the Sweetness of it all, Linda

“I’ll teach my son the sweetest things; I’ll teach him how the owlet sings…” William Wordsworth

“Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you will cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.”
Graham Nash of Crosby Stills and Nash, “Teach your children well”

joshinmexicocloseup2009THIS is my amazing son, Josh Feuer, now almost 30 years old…. As precious to me as the day he was born…. He lives in Minneapolis and works for Target and he gave me the best present for Mother’s Day: a StoryPeople pendant that says, “For a long time, she flew only when she thought no one else was watching.” I will wear it around my neck forever..

I love you, Josh… You are my Hero! Mom xox

 

 

 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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