Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Space Between

About 10 years ago, when BBZ was a baby and blogging was huge, I read a post somewhere called “The Space Between”. The writer was a young mom who described this space as the space between the mother she was, and the mother she wanted to be. She talked about wanting to be the mom that encourages her children to take risks. The mom who knows life is short and the one who wants them to experience all that life has to offer. Meanwhile, the mom she felt she was wanted nothing more than to wrap them up in bubble wrap and protect them from the world we adults know is far from ideal. At the end of her post she wrote something along the lines of, "because the pain of living in a world that once knew them but they then left would be too much pain to bear."

My friend’s 7-year-old son died 5 days ago. He was healthy, then he wasn’t, and then he died. A sore knee and a bad headache was soon diagnosed as cancer soaring through his little body, ultimately causing multiple strokes from which he could not recover. Just like that. He died. Just like every mother I know has envisioned and prayed against since that precious baby was placed in their arms. There isn’t a mother in the world who hasn’t envisioned their child being taken away from them. It is a primal instinct to do everything in our power to protect our children, and we can only do this with the realization that they could be taken away at anytime. 

I had lunch with a social worker colleague recently who has spent her entire career in the field of grief and loss. She shared with me that when she is not teaching at a nearby university, she runs group and individual counseling for mothers who have lost a child. When she said this I immediately balked with the feeling that “I could never do that”. Familiar with this reaction she says to me, “I can do this work because I have a worldview that says short lives have a purpose in this world. My worldview believes that young and little souls have a place here, just as old souls do”.

A worldview. We all have our own way we see the world. Her worldview supports this idea of souls leaving this earth earlier than most foresee, so she is then able to support others who are struggling with how their world has been completely undone. This is not a worldview that many hold, yet it exists in her so she is able to support others. I find such beauty in this.

The space between. As I have been writing this post in my head I have really been exploring this idea. Do you know what is in that space? Do you know what lives in that space between who we are and who we want to be?


It's fear that takes up that space. I have been trying my hardest lately to embrace my fear, be energized by it and to run toward whatever scares me. It has lead to some really incredible things in my life recently.

I ran on a trail at night for the first time and discovered the exhilaration of running through dark trails with a headlamp and a new found child-like energy. I was scared of night running and wanted to see myself as brave and strong and able to complete night races sometime in the future. The only thing standing in that space was fear. Dealing with a knee injury dating back to October, I completely backed off running and have been going to the gym and even working with a trainer. I wanted to gain upper body and core strength but the gym seemed unfamiliar and scary. For years I have wanted to strengthen my muscles in the gym, yet my fear stopped me.

The space between the person I am and the person I want to be is full of fear.

There are so many things I hope to be. Yet the fear that lives in this space often seems bigger than what I can face. I want to be an exceptional wife who can love and be loved freely, I want to feel in control and caught up with all of my tasks at work, I want to be vulnerable and brave and adventurous in this life, I want to be a good friend, and I want to love myself with all of my many imperfections. Some of the fears living in the space surrounding these hopes will take a lot of hard work. Harder then showing up to a gym or a dark trail, anyway. Some of the fears living in these spaces run deeper than I even realize.

Experiencing this season of life with my friend is heart wrenching. I am fighting with myself to continue to fully experience joy as I am watching as someone I care about copes with one of the biggest fears a mom has - the loss of their child. I want to be the mom who doesn't waste a minute fearing the future, one who stays present and fully experiences each moment with them. Right now though, I am distracted by thoughts of how it would feel knowing they would not make it to the next grade, or of not being able to wash their hair in the bath again, or of walking through the child's section at the store knowing I no longer need to buy their size. These are all fears I have thought about as I envisioned what my friend will experience. The fear held in this space is so strong. 

Yet as parents we take on this role knowing that at any moment, our lives can be interrupted by tragedy. We willingly face the fear of bringing children into this world knowing the risks life ultimately brings. Yet we do it. We face our fear each day we send them into the world without the bubble wrap, with a zest for adventure and a desire for them to face their world without fear. We teach what we know, whether we mean to or not. If I want my boys to be willing to test the space between who they are and who they want to be, I need to approach them without fear. With the realization that if they are meant to be taken before I am ready, that it is the way my story is meant to be written.

We do our best to show up. We face our fears and try to teach our children well, with the plan to release them into the big bad world. If we're lucky, we challenge ourselves to test our own fears and eliminate the space between the person we are, and the person we hope to be.

Unfortunately, I have been to more funerals than I can count. When someone in my life dies, I am made to be face to face with how fleeting life really is. I see the world differently. It is now, in this delicate time where the truth about this precious life is so raw that I can explore some really hard questions...

What do I want?

What do I need to do to get there?

What fear is living in the space between where I am and that place I want to be?

Life really is short, and we don't have time for fear to stop us from being the person we are meant to be. To ourselves and to our children. Thanks for reading, friends.

P.S. Did anyone else sing "The Space Between" song by DMB during some of this post?? I sure did :)