If I am not a mother, even of a dead child, what am I?
I am many things. Wife, friend, child, Aunt.
I am a knitter, a good cook, an erstwhile gardener.
I am a management consultant, a sometimes project manager, a woman with a handful of credentials.
But, I say I am not a mother. With no living child to care for, I simply cannot define myself as a mother. I gave birth to a child, but he is not with me, and I have no living children. The other four bled from my body. I cannot be a mother. There is no one for me to parent. Motherhood, it seems to me, is at least as much a verb as noun. There is no subject to the verb of my motherhood.
I am the woman who was there. The woman who held perfection in her arms. I am the woman who watched life, desperately wanted, bleed from her body. I am the woman who tastes seafood in June and thinks. The woman who sees a parking lot I vomited in and thinks. The woman who smells leaves burning, the woman who hears the words of the palm sunday mass and thinks.
I hold those babies in my heart. They were with me. They lived, for awhile. I think and I remember.
I am not a mother. I am a body that held hope and love and fear in equal parts. I am a heart that remembers. I am a soul that proclaims their life, and in the mass, when we proclaim the hope of Resurrection, I proclaim it over them. I am a mind that thinks of them. I am a being that remembers.
I will, if you will permit me, steal a page from Loribeth. I am not a mother. I am a memory keeper.
I remember. With tears in my eyes, my roommate gone to bed, I sit at my kitchen table and I type – I tell you. I remember. Even if I hardly ever talk about it, talk about them, I remember. I will always remember.
I am not a mother. But they were my babies. And I am the woman who carried them then and carries their memory now.
I am their memory keeper.