The Mother who Swallowed her Daughter

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops selfie, grieving and being grateful under a mackerel sky.A very gutsy and wise friend gently suggested I write an article about living gratefully. She asked me, a bereaved mother straining to understand why I was still alive myself. How could I possibly know anything about living gratefully? For months I struggled. Maybe my gratitude died four years ago with my daughter, I thought. I mean, what was there to be grateful about when my heart was bleeding? So I started a list. Leaving pen and paper on my kitchen counter, several times a day I read from the list or added to it.

What my daughter and I loved and were grateful for:
walking in rain with Wellington boots and rainbow umbrellas
our dog dreaming, yipping with feet running in air
popping bubble wrap
pink and charcoal mackerel skies at sunset

My daughter was braver than I. Marika lived on the edge of adventure and disaster, like she had only an hour left. Looking for all the beautiful things, she made trouble dance. She made it sing, made it beautiful. Even cancer.

honking v-lines of geese flying south before winter
the songs of a thousand frogs on a June night
dandelions dotting the lawn
the deluxe sushi platter for two, extra ginger

Marika blogged and collected friends on Facebook. There were hundreds of photos on her page. I thought blogging was a cult activity. I hated cameras, didn’t type, and feared technology. Some things I didn’t learn to love until after she was gone.

getting 90 “likes” on a Facebook post
sharing yearnings and embarrassing moments in blogs
“friending” strangers online
collecting photographs, making selfies, posting them all over the Internet

When she died, I dragged myself around, wishing I were dead. Then I found her words. Marika left songs, stories, poetry. She’d written a single poem in a blank journal, like she was daring me to continue. So I wrote. And I decided to become more like she was, to do what she did. I’d become more adventurous, and learn to love the computer. I would find all the beautiful things. I would carry on.

lemon wedges dipped in sugar
squeaky-clean, just-shampooed hair
burrowing in quilts while the wind howls outside
hearing our voices magnified and echoed

When I expanded my world to include Marika’s, my life grew richer. No longer simply a mother who lost her child, I became the woman who discovered her daughter and swallowed her. And now I realize that everything, every-last-little-thing, is precious, that nothing in this world is promised or guaranteed.

the silver reflection of an almost-full moon in the pond
a steamy cup of latte warming frozen hands in December
snow falling silently at twilight
oceans, Australia, running on beaches, roses, stars

Longevity, love, health, happiness, … even my grief is a gift. I celebrate it all. Photographing and blogging about finding joy after loss, I now believe anything is possible, even grieving and being grateful at the same time. Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing all along.

 

This blog was first published on www.gratefulness.org. To see the blog there, click on this link: http://www.gratefulness.org/grateful_living/mother-swallowed-daughter/

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13 thoughts on “The Mother who Swallowed her Daughter

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Annette. Wish the prowess worked a little more quickly and efficiently. You know how long I struggled with this. So I really appreciate the compliment, especially coming from you. Cheers!

      Reply
  1. Skip Conover

    Wonderful celebration and piece! Nearly everyone has lost someone close. We can all learn from this. Thanks to Elaine Mansfield for highlighting this for more of us on Twitter!

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Skip. And welcome to my online home. I’m so glad you made the leap to here from Twitter, my favorite online playground. And yes, I thank Elaine often as she is my guiding light in this new (to me) world of friending, posting, tweeting, and writing your heart out for all the world to see. Cheers!

      Reply
  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Love, love, love this piece, as you know, Robin. You dare to speak of just what happens. That we ingest them and they become part of our inner selves, making us more and different than we were before. Sending you love as you grapple with impossible grief and find a new life and new words to share in all of it.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Amazing how that works, Elaine. Ingesting the best and sweetest things about the ones we love, we get to carry them with us, grow, and do more for others than we might have before. Not sure about grief being impossible though; I like to say anything’s possible. And I kinda like my grief, as it’s directly related to my daughter. But for sure I agree that I have found new life and new words because of it all. Sending big love back to you, my friend. Hugs.

      Reply
  3. Jody

    I swallowed my son because he was able to intrinsically show me friendship, intelligence, love of his life, quirkiness but serious to do things right . That is only a few feelings. Since he and I are a part of each other, thoughts will ooze out day by day.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Oozing. That’s how it feels. They become so much a part of us that their thoughts, their traits, ooze out and around us, making us bigger and better. To take the best of our children and grow from having loved and ingested them – is beautiful healing. Thanks so much, Jody.

      Reply
  4. Gladys Botie

    I’m a mother of three female children and I have swallowed them all –each and every one — just as they are. Sometimes they give me indigestion — when their ways of living gratefully don’t meld with mine. But that’s what happens when you swallow your children. I swallowed mine at birth and I have no regrets. They have nourished my life and my ability to live gratefully –enjoying the ups and surviving the downs — because they give my life meaning.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yow, Mom. This takes the prize. Somehow I must share this. I guess we can see where I get my gutsiness for writing from. Thanks so much.

      Reply
  5. Monica

    I discovered so much about my daughter after she passed also. I am grateful for that but it also makes me sad. I like your list of grateful things from everyday life.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Monica. Welcome to my online home. You and I have a lot in common. Our beautiful talented daughters, art, writing, and how we choose to live our lives. Someday I hope we may sit on a hill together eating chocolate cake, discussing the ways our daughters surprised us and colored our lives. Thank you so much for being here.

      Reply

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