Ever since my daughter died, I have had a lot of people tell me that I’m really brave. I hear it a lot. “You’re such a brave mother.” “I don’t know if I could be as brave as you.” When I hear this, I worry. What if I’m not brave?
What if I’m actually just afraid?
My life doesn’t always feel like it’s fueled by bravery; it feels like it’s fueled by fear too. At this point in my life, I have made a commitment to helping others through their own grief and loss. But, what if my intentions are actually fearful? What if my work is not driven by a selfless need to help others, but by the horror that my daughter will be forgotten? Maybe I am urging others to speak about their children and their grief, so that I can then share about my own daughter.
I am terrified that Dorothy will be forgotten.
Every day I say her name, but not just out of bravery. I say it out of fear. The fear that if I don’t speak about her, that she will cease to exist. I am the only person who has a memory of what she felt like as a living being. Her movements stirred inside my body, and only my body. Her heart never beat outside of my womb. Her life ended inside of me and I’m so scared that is where her memory will remain if I don’t let it out. So, I talk and I write and I share. I do this because I am afraid. But, I also do this because I am brave.
Bravery and fear exist together.
Bravery is what brings you to the summit. Bravery is what helps you take a step closer to the edge. Fear is what keeps you from going too far. Fear is what keeps you from falling.
I know that both bravery and fear live inside of me.
Every day that I have lived after the death of my daughter has been lived courageously and fearfully. I am no longer afraid of fear. I have embraced fear and I have done so bravely.