Friday, March 12, 2010

Just in case

I already know it. It’s going to happen, I’m going to bawl like the river Babylon during my first week on the job. I’m already bawling now, reading about the pain of loss, seeing it drag out in front of me. That’s good. I’ll take that as good. It will keep me connected. It will keep me involved as a participant in the process of death and healing, which is necessary, to be always both nurse and patient. Because if you can’t see yourself as patient, how can you do your work as nurse? Isn’t that what it’s all about?
I can’t think. Not after thinking about this Mother and her Baby. I can’t finish her story, because I’m so caught up in her pain and her love, what wretched, agonizing love it has turned into. I probably would do the same, want to go with Baby. My Babies. Adults I can handle. Adults can die, like I can die, because we grow up to grow old. We’ve liveds, have given ourselves over to love and pain and mistakes. We've done enough contortions that our bodies, at least in my mind, can die and be ok with it. But babies. Babies are different. Babies do not die. They just don’t. Babies do something else. Babies open their eyes and smile and laugh and grip your fingers when they’re scared. Babies crawl and stumble and put things in their mouth that they shouldn’t. Babies with their tiny fingers and tiny feet and big heads. Babies that fall asleep content and happy in your arms even if you haven’t taken a bath in days and stink with body odor, even if you’re crooked and horrible and lazy and selfish, you can still be so incredibly capable of love, and be loved, because that’s what babies do. They don’t die.

But, should they do, just in case that they do, what do you do? You can write a story. Write a story about heartaches and pain so bad you could die from it. You do, actually, die from it, in a number of different ways. For example, you go into a coma. You’re awake, and functioning, but you’re in a coma, definitely, because your heart is numb and your brain is numb and all your toes and fingers are numb. Life becomes excessive. People become like walking appendages that you just want to cut off, get them cut from your field of vision because they’re just too much right then. Or you could do the living-dead. If you’re not living then your baby is not dead, so you could live as if you were dead and your baby is still living. You could do this by dressing the baby up. You can’t let the world mortify your baby, so you refuse to have a funeral, refuse to have your baby encased. Instead, you dress your baby up, dress yourself up too, and go out for a walk. When you sleep, the baby sleeps with you, like baby always does. This time you don’t have to worry about accidentally suffocating baby. You could just freely sleep, sleep like a baby, as they said.

I’d like to continue. For a long time, pages and pages, think about what you can do, just in case.

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