24 April 2010
This week, I met three new babies who died. And that is the beauty in the sadness. I get to meet these babies who don't get to be with us. Not necessarily in a physical sense. Most of the time not. But I get to talk to their mothers, their grandmothers, the friends. I get to hear about their loveliness. I get to sit in the company of the bereaved and listen.
It is not about me. It is not about my agenda. It is about listening and watching and breathing in.
It is about love.
It is about an overwhelming need to feel and be loved and to have to endure the excruciating pain of saying goodbye. It is about being present.
It is about unfairness.
It is about the desire to throw yourself on the ground kicking and screaming.
It is about love.
It is about needing someone to listen to you so that you can try and make them understand that this baby held all your hopes and dreams. This baby was your future. This baby was everything. And now the future has disappeared.
In all of the pain of these stories, I have to keep coming back.
Because it is a calling. Because I remember for the rest of my life the fear, the isolation, the overwhelming loneliness, and I remember the one mother who stepped into my hospital room and said, "It happened to me."
And I remember thinking that there she was: Standing.
There she was: Looking whole.
There she was. Fully present.
And out of the amazing kindness of her soul, she shared photographs of her child with me. She shared memories. And she cried with me.
And that is one of the kindest, most loving things I remember about that time.
This happened to someone else.
And she survived. Maybe, just maybe I will survive.
And so I go to be with the bereaved. To sit in their presence. To hold their hands. To listen on the telephone. To exchange email messages.
And there is some small or perhaps large miracle that occurs. Because they do survive. We survive.
We don't always believe that we will survive, but we do.
We don't always even want to hear that we will survive because at times the probability of living hardly seems like a glimmer of hope at all.
Love is at the heart of survival. And taking one step at a time is part of the process.
It is like that silly, fuzzy white monster in the Christmas movie who puts one foot in front of the other. And soon you'll be walking across the floor.
Three babies. One week.
That is where Grace lies. Between the love and the grief. Between the sadness and the joy. Between the hope and the fear. Between the confusion and the noise. Between the rage and the isolation. Between the silence and the music.
Between and betwixt.
Above and below.
Beside and behind.
Love in all its complicated forms.