I don't know about anyone else, but since becoming a parent a whole new world of anxiety has opened up to me. I'm not talking about the general stuff (I'll save that for another day), such as will ET eat/sleep/play/learn to..*inset here*, and so on. Rather, I'm referring to that fear I never even thought about before she was born, that fear of DEATH.
I never used to particularly think about my own death. Occasionally, I'd worry for the OH. The odd health problem, or his being late home on a Friday night, and I'd find myself lying awake until I knew he was safe. Despite for years wanting a child, I never thought that once she arrived, I'd be worrying about her death or my own.
This was prompted today, by an accident on the M27. Just before we hit Junction 5, we came to a standstill. Cue 2 police cars and an ambulance. A couple of cars had collided, with one hitting the central reservation. (All passengers were able to exit their cars to seek help, so I think the cars took the brunt of it.) Seeing the crash got me thinking, what if we had an accident and got really hurt? What if ET was killed and I had to say goodbye? If I could never hug her again? I can imagine her so clearly; the way she wriggles to escape or hugs me back (depending on her mood), the softness of her cheek, the smell of her breath, and feel of her hair, the toddler squidgyness of it all. My favourite thing in the world is if she is sleeping on me and I get to drink in all these things while she is peaceful.
So, while driving along I could picture it, in a way. How it would be to return to an empty house, to sit in her bedroom knowing she would never return. Knowing that I couldn't bear anyone to touch her things, or try to comfort me because it would be pointless. No-one could make it better, fix the problem. The fear that my OH and I might lose each other in the process. It felt like nothing would ever be ok afterwards. Rationally I know that tragedies happen and life goes on. That I too, would have to find a way forwards in such a situation. But the very thought of losing her made me physically anxious. It was a horrible feeling. People say you shouldn't have to bury a child, and I feel so sorry for anyone who has had to do that.
Similarly, I can't bear the thought of my going anytime soon either. I've always said, even before ET was born, that I would want my OH to continue with his life and move on, if something were to happen to me. That's still true, I'd want him to be able to do that, to find someone who makes him happy and is willing to offer herself to ET too. But I'm damned if it's going to happen! I've firmly told him we've both got to make it to at least 90. Simply because, I refuse to miss out on seeing ET grow up. I don't believe in heaven, although at times I think it would be a lovely idea. But my general belief is that when we die, we die, and that's it. So yes, I know that I wouldn't have a consciousness anymore with which to be aware that I was missing out on life, nor would I be watching it happening to other people from up on high, thereby watching ET grow. I would just be gone, and I'd never know the end of the story. (By end, I mean until she's about 60 odd, as she has to outlive me). Anyone who knows me will tell you that I hate ambiguous endings to films/books TV series. I need to know what happens. I want the details. So even though in that future moment, my dead self would have no knowledge of anything and thus no associated feeling about it, my current self laments this for my possible future self. Make sense?
Anyway, the feelings soon passed as I reminded myself, and as my OH reminded me when I shared them, that all is well in the world, and that spending my time worrying about what could happen, but is not likely to, is not a helpful behaviour for me to do. So I put a stop to it and focused on happier things. We visited my in-laws, which was lovely as always, and then we left ET behind for a 2 night sleepover. So this evening it was just the two of us at home, which reminded me of my thoughts from earlier in the day.
How quiet it is without a toddler in the house! Peaceful, yet odd because there is a presence missing. We spent years just the two of us before ET came along, so I'm used to us pottering about together quietly. But these days there's always some background noise, and if there isn't you know somebody is up to something! Still, I know that she is off having a lovely time with her Grandparents, and a bit of alone time is always good for a couple I think.
So it's off to bed for me now. In a few hours the alarm clock will go off as usual. But there'll be no toddler to turn on the bedroom light on and tell us; "The alarm’s gone off", "Get up Daddy", "Go down there!", "Stand by me", "It's time for breakfast". She'll be missed.