The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself

Mom and me

Fear is a paralyzing emotion. It can strangle you, leaving you breathless. Fear can be rational or irrational. Fear, however, is not something we talk about in conversation. As Joe, my thirteen year old, so eloquently tells me, “Don’t be a Debbie-Downer, Mom. Nobody likes a Debbie-Downer!” He’s right. Nobody likes to talk about things that are unpleasant or uncomfortable. Yet, here I am talking to you about one of my innermost fears.

I’ve been thinking about this blog for the past few days. This spawns from the fact that the anniversary of my mom’s passing is coming at the end of August. I always become melancholic during this time of year. I think about Mom, of the memories we shared, and what she has missed in the 11 years since her death. My fears always come to the surface of my thoughts as I ponder over what has happened since I lost my mom. And as I ponder, my mind starts to imagine what the future may hold.

My mom and I always had an extremely close relationship. I appreciated her knowledge. I looked to her for her wisdom and guidance. Our relationship evolved into an invaluable friendship. I relied on her sage advice, especially when I had kids of my own.

Mom was 53 when she passed away on August 31, 2003. Joey was two months shy of turning 3. Debbie was 5 months. I was 30. I was a married woman with two small children. And I was in a huge panic. What was I going to do without my mom? Besides Vince, she knew me better than anybody else. Who was I going to turn to when things got really tough? Who was going to help me pass on Jewish traditions to Joey and Debbie? Taking a deep breath, I realized that everything was now up to me. All I could do was hope that her voice would somehow stay in the back of my head, and guide me when I really needed her opinions and thoughts.

I look at Joey and Debbie and I think of all the amazing things my mom has missed. Milestones, birthdays, holidays, and Joey’s Bar Mitzvah are celebrations that come to mind. Cancer and Autism are pitfalls that also come to mind. I start thinking about the future and begin to wonder. Joey will be fine. He will graduate high school. He will go to college. When I think about Joey’s future, I always think about the ending of Toy Story 3. He will ride off into the sunset and it will be his time to fly.

Debbie’s future, by contrast, is murky. Like my mom and I, Debbie and I are extremely close. I am in tune with her feelings. I translate for her when others don’t understand what she is trying to say. We have an indescribable bond. When my mom passed I fumbled my way through life and survived. My fear is that if I die, Debbie will not be ready to handle life on her own.

Nobody gets Debbie the way I get Debbie. Who will help her muddle through life? Who will help her find her way in a world that couldn’t care less about her Autism? Who will help even the playing field for her? Who will make sure that she is living up to her fullest potential, that she is safe, that she is happy?

Deb and meFear. It can be rational or irrational. It can strangle you, leaving you breathless. It can leave you immobile…if you let it. Guess what? I am not going to give in to my fear. I was never truly alone after my mom passed and if I went tomorrow, Debbie won’t be alone either.


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