The Weight of a Life (final excerpt)

Thank you again to everyone who has read this short story.  It is a living document and is constantly in revision.  I do not believe any piece of writing is ever really finished until it is finally released from your white knuckle grasp and carted away only to be returned to you over and over in your sleep.  It can always be better and as long as I am my own worst critic, I guess that is not so bad. 


In 2008, I made the easiest decision of my life, a contradictory decision to Margaret’s to see her children as a product of recklessness; I donated a kidney to my son.  He was four years old.  Although not a cure, it would lend to him valuable quality of life.  I am not angry with Margaret or anyone in her position but I pity them for missing out on the soul enhancing love of being a mother.  I am disappointed they allow their cycle to continue, and for not accepting help when it presents itself but instead seeking escapes.  A mother like Margaret and the children she creates will never know the word “mommy”.   
I knew somewhere a cop would come across a child like Margaret’s.  A child with an absent mother and ask similar questions about their life since cops are routinely a bit curious about others.  Like Margaret, her own mother’s parental neutrality, a result of the call to the bottle, an abusive husband or just plain too much responsibility, won her mother over and Margaret came in second in that race, maybe even third.  She took to the streets to teach her everything about life, a belief that the world was contained within the four blocks surrounding her house.  I knew somewhere another cop would make an effort on a slow night like tonight to learn about another child like Margaret’s, her belly swollen with an unknown future, a cycle that continues from parent to child.  Somewhere in his questioning, he would ask, “Where’s your mother?” and I can, with certainty predict the answer; “Who knows”. 

On the Mend... Weight of a Life (cont) and ARPKD

Went to work today only briefly.  Believing I had meetings and that today was Thursday, I learned by 10:00 a.m. that I was in a fog.  It must be the fact that I have not had much sleep and came down with a bit of a cold.  I came home, crawled into some sweat pants and proceded to lay supine watching reruns of SNL.  Never really dozed off but eventually pulled myself together, picked up the kids and got them to music class.  Now catching up on homework and thought I would at least produce something today besides a lot of mucus.  Thank you for reading!  Here is the second to last post of Weight of a Life.... and as always, your friendship and comments are welcome.  Like most bloggers, I anticipate each visit with the hopes of finding another follower.. (smile... shrug...)


In 2001, I became a mother for the first time.  We welcomed a son and I felt from the moment I reached for him I had known him all my life.  I was born to have him.  I envisioned the shape of his eyes, the puff of his hair, saw him in reflections and merely bided my time to take in his scent, his physical presence.  I celebrated in his buttery softness, coveted the defenseless nature of him and was in awe of how his cry settled at the tone and pitch of my voice. I knew having him was testimony I had done good things. 
A brief two years and four months later, we welcomed his younger brother.  The size of my heart, the space of my soul grew effortlessly.  We would go to any extreme to guide our lives to give them the best possible future.  I knew what the opposite looked like.  I knew ugliness and absence and what that does to a child, how it guides their future to unknown dead ends, misguided paths and dangerous drops leaving them to fill painful voids as an adult and in some cases, only to repeat the cycle.  Much like Margaret, they are left struggling with life, searching to find beauty or hope with little promise for the future, a fact society as a whole bears little witness or connectivity to as some of the world’s inconveniences.
A life changing reality came for our youngest at the age of one month when he was diagnosed with a chronic recessive gene trait, Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease/Chronic Hepatic Fibrosis (ARPKD/CHF).  Translation; his kidneys and liver would deny him a normal, healthy life.  This angered both me and my husband in the early phases.  On the day in question, I followed the pediatrician from corridor to office, carpet to tile struggling with his words, desperately hopeful he was not talking of my son.  We landed down the hall, my feet suspended off the floor as I floated out of my body.  Behind a closed door he explained his theory of why my son’s tummy was distended, why his belly button was not just an “outie” but the cause of some unknown growth or strange business going on within. 
“I am going to send you to a specialist; a Nephrologist.” 
Emergency ultrasounds would disclose massive cyst filled kidneys pushing up under his stomach and other organs.  His liver was enlarged and his tiny ribcage struggled to hold it all inside. 
The day we were told to go to the emergency room for dangerous low levels of sodium discovered during a prioritized blood draw, we grasped the reality square in the jaw.  We announced to no particular entity but to ourselves as we paced the bathroom floor that the news was admittedly upsetting and removed us from the normalcy of parenting two boys.  The predictability of skinned knees, flu like symptoms or even broken limbs, was replaced with words like portal hypertension, alkaline phosphates and organ failure.  I had the sudden realization it was us who had been chosen to have these boys.  I was looking at the face of parenting through ghosts of past blunders by others and I had the appreciation of our situation. I could think of no part of me that was not forever changed. 

The Weight of a Life (cont) Non-Fiction 2 excerpts to go

Thank you for reading, joining and checking in.  I have kept the excerpts fairly short but posting a new one every couple of days.  I have 2 to go for this story and plan on posting new material very soon.  Thank you for your interest!!


After just a few moments in the lot listening to Margaret turn the pages of her life, it became clear that barring a warrant for homicide, or a threat to the president, the officers had no intention on booking her for any reason.  I understood that and agreed.  The time spent at County hospital to clear her for jail with the sores, scabs and cough could take hours.  We all decided to let Margaret educate us on her chosen life. 
In our line of work we usually witness the lack of clear forethought for the proposed possible outcomes in some of those decisions.  Not yet a mother myself in 1996 but a worthy and capable street guardian of children, I was eager to hear what she knew of her own.  With the education presented to me this night by Margaret and tallied with other breeders I contacted on the street, I would add to my arsenal a self education in parenting and a positive path for children I came across faced with a parent like Margaret.  I would also subconsciously store away the reality that through experienced indifference and sometimes chemical demons, the ability to “mother” for some never materializes. 
When I asked Margaret if she knew where her children were or if they were even in the state, she shrugged her shoulders.  She bent down, adjusted the syringes at her ankle while our hands naturally maneuvered their way to our gun sides and spoke to the ground, “Who knows?” 
We remained there listening to Margaret, letting her know she was free to go.  Her honesty and openness remained simply just a matter of fact to the invasion into her life by our job status as municipal babysitters and her choice of profession.  You make choices like Margaret; you have babies you have no business having, you let others raise them, you become a backdrop, you become something to be avoided and discarded.   I was uncertain if she held any remorse to her indifference she so easily displayed as a parent.  After all, she will forever be someone’s mother, just not a good one.  She did not speak of her children with a longing or as if part of her was missing.  It was just a fact and that element of apathy, that lack of joy or love, I just could not comprehend yet I saw how it could be.  Margaret had nothing of herself left.  It was quite possible there never was much of Margaret from the beginning.  Whatever was left of her was picked apart each night about ten minutes at a time.  The weight of her life was too much to bear.  How could she direct the path of another?  

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I figured things out late in life, like what I wanted to do, getting married (age 30), having kids, (36 and 38) and changing degrees about 3 times. Now as a cop of 19 years and in my mid 40's, I am finally figuring out some things. My first career or dream of becoming a writer is playing more in my head and daily life than ever. I love it. Thus the blog. It is all mine. I also love being a mother. They are all ours. I love my husband and as a cop, wow.. have I seen some things. Street degree. I got it. Let us learn together. I also am on She Writes.