(I started this post in October and finished it in January, if it feels a little disjointed to some of you. But the thoughts have been ruminating for the last few months, and I think they are worth writing.)
Since pondering the prospect of life without kids, I find myself keenly aware of how I fear to be alone.
I don't think that it's previously been a motivation of "hey lets have kids so we're not alone when we die." Certainly I don't think anyone thinks that when they first begin to try to have kids. We all think of newborns cooing with unadulterated love, little toddlers toppling over while taking first steps, the first bike ride, the panic of helping pay (or completely paying!) for college. The hope of more generations.
Having kids may help you stay in this moment, instead of looking down toward the future.
Not having kids? your life - and the end of it - comes rushing toward you, because it seems that all you have and all you will have is the same today as it will be tomorrow and ever shall be.
At one point, as I was thinking about being alone and how I frequently seek out others (as both a function of my extroversion, and as a function of fear) I wondered if my husband or friends were afraid of being alone at the end of life. I thought, "Well, that is MY fear, but perhaps those who are not as avoidant of being alone fear other aspects of death that I don't?
As the Christmas season descended upon us, I began to meditate on Christ as Emmanuel, God with us. Obviously, I have always thought of Emmanuel in a historical sense - God came down to be with humanity for 33 years. But in the emotional sense of "God is with us" when struggling through the pain and difficulty of life. "God with us" when pondering the things that cause us anxiety. "God with us" in joy and in sorrow.
Because of all the disorienting things about infertility, the worst is the feeling of being abandoned by God. Yet, God promises to be with us. Emmanuel.
As the Christmas Eve service choir sang "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" in variation, the understanding came upon me. It was something that came when I was a little girl, feeling rejected by others, as a teen when I tried and failed to fit in, and now, as an adult, fearful of being alone: God is with me. Emmanuel. He will be with me when I die, and he is with me when it doesn't feel like he is near. He is with me when I am anxious, and when I am angry, and when I am grieving. He will be with me when I am joyful.
His very name is the remedy for my fear.