Mother of All Fears

I did not walk out of the press screening of “The Woman in Black,” opening Friday, because it was too scary (even though I don’t like scary movies). I left because its subject matter — which involves a lot of children dying — was about to send me, if not into a full-fledged panic attack, at least into the state where I wake up every hour to make sure my son is still breathing.

I have one child, and that one was expensive and difficult to come by. Because of that, I won’t have any more. And I experience movies on a very visceral level — there is a part of me that absolutely believes what is happening on the screen. So watching child after child die and hearing the screams of parents (and, since I had seen the play on which the movie is based, knowing what was coming), I couldn’t take it.

I know people who have lost children. I often wonder whether my father’s death at age 60 was just as devastating to his mother as it would have been at 6. People recover as best they can, I guess. But the worst part of parenthood is the voice that sneaks in at 3 in the morning and whispers to the most sensitive part of your brain that it could happen to you, too.

I can’t think about it for long. I won’t. So I left and wandered around the mall and bought some clothes for a niece due in March, trying to beat back fear with a polka-dotted onesie.

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