*Jake has not been found. Thank you for checking.
Everyone knows that the big, bitey, scaley lizard-looking thing in the Everglades is an alligator. That single word encapsulates everything it is and stands for.
My grief is an alligator, lately.
For centuries–millennia–eons–mothers have coped with the loss of their children. Miscarriages. Stillbirth. Childhood illnesses. Adult illnesses, accidents and other unforeseen circumstances. Any loss at any time is backwards and devastating, and yet we have no single word for that now-childless mother.
But she isn’t really childless, either. She has a mother void. Or is it a child void? Is she now a void mother?
I struggle for words lately, like my vocabulary has deserted me. But the problem is that what I need to articulate doesn’t have words in my lexicon.
I don’t know an English word that captures what my motherness is concerning one of my children.
And all of the phrases are awkward:
- mother of a murdered child
- mother of a child who died of cancer
- mother of a stillborn baby
- mother of a kidnapped child
- mother of a suicide victim
- mother of a missing son
I need a name for it.
It’s not for the sake of having a label to go by. It has to do with navigating the muddy swamp of grief. I have no bearings.
I need a word that tells people NO CRAP TODAY OR I WILL IMPLODE.
A word that reminds people that I look functional but sometimes I am tsunami wreckage inside. And anything can be a trigger.
I am whole but silent.
I care only a little bit that fractal is beautiful. I recognize that beauty rises from the ashes but right now everything just burns.
When Jake moved out I felt the loss keenly. But he was not lost.
When he joined the National Guard I got to practice again. But he was not lost.
And when he stopped speaking to me it was more practice. But he was not lost.
Then he disappeared. And it was the real thing.
And most days this is enough to put some distance between me and the alligator.