“Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Frank Herbert, Dune
Mitch reminds me over and over. And I know it's true. I realize fear is just uncertainty. I do not know whether I can pass the tests I haven't taken. There are challenges to face, and no certainty from experience that I will overcome them. I remind myself that a year from now I will know. 27-year-old Maddie is unafraid of what she has already faced. So, I write to her sometimes. I ask her all my questions, and while she can't share them with me, she knows the answers. And that is an encouraging thought.
Dear (2017) Maddie,
You are on my mind constantly. I wonder what you’re like after this last year. What happened? How did it change you? And how did it all feel as it unfolded?
I wonder about the day you met our son. Were you brave, strong, and peaceful through delivery? What did you think when you first saw him? Do you even remember? What on earth did you name him? Do you still think about that day, or are you completely focused on resting gently on your present sea of uncertainty?
Does our little man have that strong sense of wellbeing I sense in him now? Are you able to take your cues from him without feeling like you’re creating a self-centered little monster? Does he feel strong and independent to you, or fragile and needy? Are you tempted to be his rescuer? Does every bone in your body want to spare him all discomfort? I can hardly fathom how I will be his nurturer and protector, and yet teach him to surrender to the whole life—that is both joy and sorrow, ecstasy and pain. How will I teach him not to need me, and still infuse him with a sense of wellbeing, of worth? How will I make him feel how wanted he is, without teaching him to rely on being wanted?
I wish I could answer me when I ask. I trust you have more answers than I do now. How did you get them? Did you trust your own instincts? Did your intuition guide you?
What about you and Mitch? Do you feel as bonded as ever? Do you miss him? What is marriage like when you are parents? Is life at Worthington just as sweet as a family of 3 as it was for your family of 2?
Are you still embracing vulnerability, flexibility, and light-hearted things as well as your more earnest pursuits? Do you still remind yourself not to take it all so seriously? Or are you better at that now?
Most days I’m trying to exchange worry for wonder. That’s when I think of you. I pretend we can have a chat over tea, and that you smile lovingly and reassuringly at me, filled with the peace of having already made it through the part of the journey that looms ahead of me. I can feel your love, and it helps me to set aside the anxious feelings. I remember that uncertainty is what makes me feel alive. Thank you for being there. Thank you for loving me.
Love, (2016) Maddie