After Ferdinand died, we explored some books about death, or grieving, with the girls. Actually, I did. Because R preferred not to talk about it. We talked about this and he said he would not stop them from talking about Ferdinand, or death, but he just could not handle a discussion on that with the girls.
Truth is, the girls did not react much to the books. They seemed to be processing it all on their own, in their own way, and did not feel the need to find comfort in books. Contrary to me. I buried myself in books. They kept on living life. This is how mighty these little girls are.
I found comfort in the book Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie. I like how it so simply and beautifully explain birth, death and living through the concept of lifetimes. I got an older edition of the book and the title was “Beginnings and endings with LIFETIMES in between: A beautiful way to explain life and death to children.” Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?
The text begins with:
There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive. In between is living.
And it ends with:
So, no matter how long they are, or how short, lifetimes are really all the same. They have beginnings, and endings, and there is living in between.
In between the book explores the different lifetimes, long and short, of plants, animals and humans. Tiny, big, plain-looking or breathtaking in looks, no living thing is an exception. There is always a beginning, an end, and a lifetime in-between.
The in-between is the hardest part to negotiate. What kind of a lifetime is it spent connected to tubes and machines, never feeling the sunshine warm on one’s skin? What kind of a lifetime is it when one was never held live, breathing and crying, in one’s mother’s arms?
The best thing we can comfort ourselves with is that- they knew love, they only knew tenderness and love. They may have had to start fighting the very second they burst into this world, but for every second they were so wanted and loved. They may slid out of the mother’s womb limb and perhaps with the skin already falling off, but while in the womb, they were much anticipated and loved.
Little ways to find solace. Which strangely, sometimes lead to more heartache.
For me, right now, I am just assuming that this baby’s lifetime is whatever time she has in my womb. Of course, I want her to have a very, very long life. I want to watch her hair grow so long and brush it lovingly and hold that tender silkiness in my hands and braid it. I want to watch her limbs stretch and grow; I want to watch her legs first puttering across a tiny lawn, and then making inroads into the big, wide world. I want to hear her go ga-ga and then form words and sentences and I want to argue and discuss and fight big verbal wars with her. I want to feed her for a long, long time… first the precious breastmilk, then mashed up food, then once possible, we start on the gourmet training. I want us to moan over decadent cakes together, and create memories of feasts with love.
But right now, her lifetime is whatever time I have with her. Each and every second. This is her lifetime, with me. This is her lifetime with me cradling her in my womb.
I think of the day that I hope will never come. The day when everything crashes and the world goes dark. The day when they tell us “Sorry” yet again. I hope this day will never ever come. But as I wrap my arms protectively around my swollen belly, trembling with fear and courage at the same time, I live like every second is birth, and death.
So, I will love her every second and every day. When I am able to feel joy, I amplify it. I reach deep, and savor with glee, greed and gratitude. When I feel fear, I remind myself that everything is fleeting. I tell her I am feeling fear right now, but it is going to pass. I will nod to it, and tell it to move on, because I have no extra guest room for it. But for joy, I throw open the doors and windows and it pours in and fill every crevices that we have in this house.
That is how I want to do it this time. If she lives, if she comes to us kicking and screaming, determined to wreck havoc upon our lives, I will laugh, and I will tell her stories of when she was in my womb- those weird things she did, those stories we spun, those things her sisters did. If she does not live, and chooses a different path, then I think I will tell her about the lifetime she had in my womb, how I spent it. How it was damn bloody hard, how the seconds flowed by like thick sticky glue across a cold surface, sometimes seemingly standing still and freezing. I will tell her, it was hard, assuming death at every death; feeling joy and dread at the same time, but I dared to love, and I dared to hope, even if blindly.
Fearing and worrying is essential. Mechanisms for coping and for sanity. Feeling fear makes one search for the courage within. But I will try to feel the joy more, and send out the love more. Because, her lifetime may just be these moments of fleeting joy and anxieties pieced together.
Read Full Post »