I can’t hold her yet, they tell me at the pediatric intensive care unit. But soon.
The surgeon shows me what they removed, scrolling through her iPhone like she’s recounting a recent lunch. Two swollen centimeters of atypical; a pebble of nothing-tissue that had grown inside her lung, inside her, inside me.
But she began the way we all did: Awash at sea, suspended in nothing, hung in a dark cobweb of void. I was warned that I would long for her return once she waded onto the shore and became a separate skin self. I do, and perhaps even more so (maybe because I’m selfish, but I like to think it’s because I’m a big picture person), I long for mine. Well, ours. I find myself drawn to immersion: Kaleidoscopes. Saunas. Soak tanks. Stars. Icy landscapes where the world sprawls before the eye. White space and black holes. Loss that leaves you blinking.
I watch her, tense but unmoving, holding her wriggling body lightly as she struggles against her IV lines and tries to bite into cords. They finally tell me I can cradle her, and I hold myself utterly still as she writhes, forcing myself to stay awake and conscious enough to love. The flesh is willing, but the will is weak. She struggles and I steel myself.
And this, I think, is mothering: this longing for stillness, even as you fear nothing more than the ceasing of movement.
Laura’s work has appeared or will soon appear in Lady/Liberty/Lit, The New York Times, Moonchild Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, SELF, Blanket Sea Magazine, The Eunoia Review, the Manifest-Station, Catapult, McSweeney’s, Riggwelter Press, New York Magazine, Upworthy, VICE, The Guardian, and others. She has an MFA from Antioch University and a Ph.D. from UCSD.