I hold my baby son in my arms, hardly able to believe I am somebody's mother, and I think of my own. She died ten years ago, in the middle of the night, leaving me with a hole in my heart filled with questions. I will never know the details of my birth, for example, so I wrote my son an 8-page long birth story. I will never know when I first smiled or rolled over, so I keep a detailed list of his milestones. I write to ward off grief, to grasp on to life's lovely, slippery moments.
I kiss the top of my son's head, and feel a tingle on my own scalp, where my mother once kissed me. The memory of her love warms the cold, fearful places in me, when I remember to summon it. I gaze at our picture, a mother-daughter moment of laughter, frozen in photo booth black-and-white. I always have my camera nearby. I take pictures so that my son will know how much he is loved, in the event of my untimely death.
I touch my son's impossibly soft cheek, and wish that she could know his silky warmth. At the same time, the image comes unbidden, of her corpse cold and graying in the ground. I wonder at how my heart can hold so much joy and grief, without breaking, without bursting.