You don't realise it at the time, but when you have a baby everyone else who had a baby around the same time is now in your posse. You think that you will stay in touch with your non mom friends. But soon they get tired of talking about your breasts in a food production sense. They don't see what is so facinating about mustard seed new born poop and there is a good chance that they want to kick you in the junk everytime you launch into your birthing war story.
So you find new friends through public health groups, community centres and through other new moms. These are now your people. You will remember these women like they are family. You will see them at the mall 5 years later and give them a hug because they were there for all the horrible stories and first bop on the head and first tooth. Your dog may have licked the germaphobe's kid but its all cool. This is where you belong.
You remember their kids names (if not theirs). You recognise random kids at the park or ice rink. This is because you were there in their first year of life. These are the bonds that stick. I met my best friend 9 years ago because she was wearing a pair of maternity capris that I had on as well. Our 'babies' were born 1 day apart (one 10 days late, one 10 days early).
You share the rough patches with these sisters.You debate name choice, ambivelant husbands, sibling rivalry, sugar vs. Nutra sweet, hormone releasing bottles and the issue of blocked milk ducts. I know these people better than I know some of my family.
2 years ago someone in my Hot Mama community got the devastating news that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her children are the same ages as my #1 & #3. Her diagnosis scared the crap out of me. I immediately booked a breast exam and began compulsively checking for lumps. She had a lump but because she was breast feeding her son she was told that it was probably a blocked milk duct. I began thinking of Jackie and crying. She is from my home town and our mothers work & play together. While she and I are not 'friends' in the usual context, she is my community by default due to the ties that bind us in motherhood.
Jackie has fought her aggressive cancer with everything in her arsenal. She has undergone every treatment and taken her fight to Germany to get specialised chemo therapy. In the last few months it has seemed like the cancer is taking over. While her determination to beat this has not waned, the cancer is attacking her body on so many levels. Jackie's story is not mine to tell - but her fight hits me in the gut then punches me in the face. This is real.
I think of her boys. Her high school love who also happens to be her husband and partner. I think of her brother and sister. I think of her mom. All of her friends and colleagues who have supported her family through this. I think of all the mothers who gasp when they hear her story because they know that by the grace of God there go they.
On a blog entry about a year ago Jackie commented that she knew that she needed to get things ready for her children in case she did not survive this disease. I do not know where she found the strength between fighting all of this and having hope and then dealing with the reality that she needed to DO SOMETHING so her boys remember her. They are 7 & 3. Where do you start? How do you write down everything that you would have taught them over the years? How do you find the strength between all the other stuff to make it happen? How do you leave your mark as a mother on a 3 year old? How do you cope with the overwhelming grief that you will not be there to see them grow into the wonderful caring people they are bound to become? How can your community keep your spirit alive?
We all die. This is not a question. But some deaths are timely and expected. Others happen way too soon before your work is done. It is up to the world around your family to keep memories alive. Treat each other with respect and caring. You simply do not know what they have endured to be here today.
I wish strength to her and to her family. I am praying for a miracle for my fellow Hot Mama.
Update Summer 2012.
Jackie Mountford Lunot passed away shortly after I wrote this blog post. I still think of her daily. Godspeed fellow hot mama.