In my World Mythology class, I ended up connecting the Hero Journey to Mother's, and finding acceptance. For our final paper, we got to write our own mythology story, and mine goes something like this...
The rhythmic hum of the nebulizer was something she’d almost gotten used to as if it were the furnace turning on, except this machine was unwelcome, and an unwanted guest taking up space in the house. In the dim light of dawn, Anne glanced around the room looking at the debris of respules, inhalers, AeroChambers, antibiotics, steroids, Chinese herbs, antibacterial wipes, sanitizer, kleenex, a stethoscope, an oximeter, Vicks VapoRub, essential oils, and a barf bucket littering the entertainment center and coffee table. She was so tired of it all and she knew little Joey was too. Anne’s mind was racing trying to figure out who was to blame for this latest bout of pneumonia. Was it the neighbor boy and his snotty nose, did Amber bring something home from school, was Bryan not careful at work? Who didn’t wash their hands good enough, whose fault was it, or maybe it was her fault? What if it was the coffee or diet coke she’d drank during pregnancy. Why couldn’t anyone make this better, why did germ after germ give him pneumonia? It hurt to think and no one had a decent solution. Anne laid her cheek on Joey’s soft blonde hair and fought back the tears as she rocked her boy, and held the mask on his little face as he tried to sleep. She’d lost count of the nights spent in the rocking chair, the sick chair. If only she could scream loud enough for her wish to be heard throughout the universe and have someone fix her son, but the exhaustion fell on her eyelids and she drifted off to sleep.
The next thing Anne knew, she was being awakened by the aroma of coffee as Bryan held a fresh cup out to her. He kissed her forehead and whispered in her ear, “When I come home tonight, you’re going to a yoga class. I know you’re tired but you need to get out of the house. I’ve got the kids.” As she sipped her coffee, she felt a wave of deep gratitude for Bryan. He was her anchor, her compass; a stable force braving all of life’s turmoils right along side her. He was right, it had been too long since she’d been to a real yoga class. It would be nice to get out and have a little breather from the chaos.
That night as she drove to class, she was held up by a traffic light long enough to watch a family of four walk by. A little boy close to Joey’s age looked more interested in licking his ice cream cone than in crossing the street. They all looked so happy. Grief struck Anne’s heart, she wanted that kind of normal for her family but defective genetics had stolen this from her grasp. The grief was still with her as she unrolled her yoga mat. Beth entered the room ready to begin teaching class. Her face lit up when she saw Anne and she rushed over for an embrace. When Anne told her why she hadn’t been to class in so long, Beth said, “But this is why you need yoga more than ever. You must find a way to come more often.” Anne smiled and took a deep breath, it was true, she did always feel better about life after a spell on her mat. She loved the feeling of digging her toes into the soft rubber and closing her eyes as she flowed through a sun salutation. There were no interruptions in class, just the mat, the breath and the self. Anne’s favorite part was Savasana, the minutes that followed a workout, where you allowed your body to melt into your mat and your problems almost faded into oblivion. Only tonight it felt too real, as if her body was literally sinking into the mat. Anne started to panic, snapped open her eyes and sat up. She looked around the quiet room, at the other body’s resting in Savasana and immediately felt silly, but she was certain she’d been sinking. Maybe it was the lack of sleep causing hallucinations, and she was about to miss out on her favorite part from some silly delusion. She quickly resumed the posture but this time there was no mistaking it. Her body was sinking through the mat and she could hear the voice of an old man telling her to let go, if she wanted to save her son. Anne wanted nothing more than to fix Joey’s immune system, she’d been trying so hard for nine years now. Hours that turned into days, months and years of research for possible cures only to find that nothing was working. Anne had nothing to lose, she let herself fall through the mat.
For quite some time she couldn’t see anything but felt her body being pulled through the darkness. Stars began to appear and she seemed to be approaching a strange blue planet. Then her feet landed on what looked like a door mat, to what must be a strange little house. As she raised her hand to knock, a round door opened in front of her and purple eyes stared up at her from a beautiful fairy-like face. This was no ordinary place and no ordinary kind of fairy, the feet and tail looked too much like that of a dragons. A soft voice spoke to her and welcomed her in. Her name was Agatha and she explained that she was gifted in the art of making magical suits that would give everlasting protection from germs. Anne knew this was the bubble she’d always wanted for Joey, right here at her fingertips. She couldn’t believe it was this easy. As she held the suit in her hands and joy flooded her heart, Agatha’s next words shattered it. The strange fairy dragon proceeded to tell her how the suit must never be removed. This meant Anne would never again be able to kiss Joey’s soft cheeks, feel his silky hair under her chin or his little arms wrapped around her chest. He would lose the ability to feel love or the beauty in the world around him. The longer she stood there holding the suit, she realized she couldn’t keep it. How could she subject Joey to a life without touch? Anne closed her eyes and wished for a different answer.
Darkness engulfed her again and she was being pulled along, floating on a dark river of space and time. Anne’s mind wandered and for a moment she wished the darkness would take her someplace where her life wouldn’t be so hard. A life where she didn’t have to watch her son struggle to survive. Thoughts of blame flooded her mind, what business did she have in the first place bringing children into this world? But a mother cannot stay with these thoughts, from the moment of conception her heart belongs to her child and the gift of that child is the greatest joy she’ll ever feel. There’s a magical bond between a mother and their child, a force nothing can alter. Then suddenly, Anne found herself staring up at an enormous tree in what appeared to be an obscure kind of forest. She stretched out her hand to the feel the bark beneath her fingers and to her surprise the tree spoke. Alder, was the oldest and wisest tree in the enchanted forest of dreamers, and he possessed magical sap that could heal any disease. Anne couldn’t believe her luck, this was better than a suit. She had longed for some kind of medicine to cure Joey and her heart felt light with the possibility of this news. But just like Agatha, Alder’s magical fix came with a price, Joey’s sense of taste would be lost. If Anne were to accept the sap, Joey would never again be able to enjoy the sweetness of a donut melting in his mouth, the fizz and bite of his favorite rootbeer, or the creamy delight of chocolatey ice cream. She knew she couldn’t doom her son to a flavorless life. Anne thanked Alder, closed her eyes and fell into the darkness.
Once again her body was being pulled along, floating on a dark river of space and time, and she wondered at the possibilities that lay ahead. This was all too surreal, sad and yet kind of wonderful. Even though the space suit and ancient tree sap had failed her, she had hope the magical answer lay in the next adventure. After all the entire universe was trying to help her, she had to find the answer. Then suddenly, she found herself sitting on the edge of a dock with a mermaid’s tail, staring into the blue eyes of an old man. Something about him resembled her gramps, but he’d been gone for many years now. Anthony smiled at her as he said, “Your answers lie within the depths of the sea.” The old man went on to tell her how to find this special sea plant that gives everlasting breath when eaten by a human. However, it gives life from the lives it takes, so great care must be taken while cutting a bud off it’s stem. You were given a mermaids tail to help you on your journey and with that he wished her luck and vanished.
The next sound heard was that of her tail slapping the water as she dove beneath the surface determined to find this plant. She needed to save her son. Deeper and deeper she swam until she saw magenta buds dancing in the water on their long turquoise stem. She’d never seen anything so fascinating, but as she drew nearer there were corpses entangled in it’s undergrowth. Anne quickly recoiled and took shelter in a nearby shipwreck to think. How was she going to cut the bud off without being snared by the plant? And then she saw it. Laying in the broken planks was a fisherman’s net and what looked like a knife. Anne had a plan. She covered the plant with the net and pulled the head of a bud through a hole where she could snip it off. As she swam away feeling victorious, this was quickly squelched by massive orange tentacles wrapping around her body. Anne cried out in despair, how could this be the end, she had come so close to saving Joey. There would be no escape from these tentacles, and the more she struggled against them, her skin tore open. She watched her blood color the water around her. Anne would welcome death, she was tired of fighting. As she succumbed to the struggle, the tentacles began to uncoil from her body. She noticed the squid’s flesh appeared to be glowing and it seemed to be writhing in pain. It was as if her blood was poisoning the giant squid, and all at once she was freed.
When she finally reached the dock and held her hand open to show the old man what she’d captured, it became apparent something was terribly wrong. Anne climbed out of the water, her mermaid’s tail disappeared and she waited for the old man to speak. His words came as a knife to her chest. Joey was gone. Her only son had died while she was on a journey trying to save him. The old man placed his arms around her, and held her as she wept. He confided in Anne that he had hoped to help her but every mortal’s life has a predestined time limit that nothing can change. While he had hoped to assist in her journey to find a cure, he could not prevent or know the timing of Joey’s death. They talked for hours and Anne regretted how she had spent so much time wishing it were different, so much time protecting him and researching for a cure that she had missed out on his life.
Anne could feel someone shaking her arm and heard Beth’s voice calling to her, “Anne, Anne, are you okay?” She opened her eyes and saw Beth’s worried face peering into hers. Anne could feel the soft rubber of her yoga mat beneath her back, and relief flooded her body as she realized it had all been a dream. She had fallen asleep during Savasana and Joey was still alive. Her son was alive. Everything made sense to her now, and it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from her chest. The answer to life, isn’t about trying to make it better. Instead, it’s about being able to accept and thrive in what is. Accepting all the things that cannot be changed, such as illness and death. Life is about embracing the unknown and relishing in the joy of what is right now in this present moment. Everyone’s life is a limited gift. The only thing you can control is how you choose to live with what you’re given. Embrace the fear, the chaos, the madness and enjoy whatever good there is.
When she told Bryan about her dream, or really her nightmare, during yoga class, he laughed and told her, “You’re already his hero because you are his mother. Your love does more than any magic you could hope to find.” That night as Anne sat in the rocking chair again holding her boy, she kissed his soft cheek and smiled. Even though she could not cure Joey, she loved him fiercely and felt incredibly lucky to be his mom. Namaste.