Birth and death, to me, are more similar than different. That first moment you learn you are going to have a child, you go through many emotions. You are shocked or surprised; you are in denial until you accept the fact you are, if you are someone who had not planned this and perhaps inadequately prepared at this time in your life, be it at 12, 16 or 20 years old, for example. You may be bargaining with your higher power or yourself that it could be a miscalculation or you may be a woman who has been trying to have a child for years. Maybe you do not want to believe it in case there is an error and you will be grieving a loss of that hope once again. You may even feel anger or guilt or both if it is consequences of a rape, a party gone bad, a foolish mistake…take your pick. Even if the pregnancy is planned, there are moments of sadness, of saying goodbye to the life as you knew it, the freedom and the fear of having an innocent being dependent on you for the next two decades or more. Every life transformation starts with saying goodbye to your past before hello to that new beginning.
Acceptance can be anytime throughout the gestation period or once that baby is born. And that very day you know that you are treading on unknown territory even if you are happy. That first child, the awkwardness and fear of not getting it right is ever-present. The apprehension mixed with the acceptance of this reality come together ….your new beginning.
I cannot help thinking as I am grieving my mother today, hours before that time she passed, relating death to birth or a new beginning. I am reliving each moment I was by her side that morning, afternoon, night. Even if I knew she was frail and consumed with dementia, the death…that total loss was a new sense of aching emptiness. It was shocking in the sense I had no idea I could feel this much loss at first.
As I sit here hours before her death a year ago, I cannot help but playback moments of that long day. I couldn’t go to work today…called in sick as I knew I would be of no service to youths or young adults in crisis…my soul was tired and my heart too fragile. I thought it would be the day of her passing I would feel this intense loss and need to revisit those last hours we shared together in love… symbiosis.
When I think of the time of her death being just minutes after midnight, it would make sense to be mindful of the day before. My mother would also retell me every year hours leading up to my birth which was minutes after midnight as well.
Thinking back on the births of my two children, I cannot help but be reminded of the day before they were born because those were the preparation hours, things we did not quite realizing when those babies would peak their little faces to the light and out of that warmth.
Every year I relive those moments before my children were born as I do for my grandson being present then as well.
Holding my newborn son years ago, I remember wondering (even if I was happy and had been waiting years to have this first child) how I will cope in this new beginning. Will I manage? Will I be good enough? What is ahead now is new territory I had never experienced before firsthand.
When you lose someone you love deeply, as I am feeling with my mother, I feel somewhat similar feelings…that awkwardness, self-doubt on how I will manage through the rest of my life without her. Not being able to phone her, visit her, tell her how much I love her…thank her for loving me and giving me so much all her life. No, this is new terrain at any age. It is a new beginning of a life motherless, fatherless as well…a new experience as the next generation to pass on and see myself in that new role.
As I think of birth and death, the same exercise goes on in my mind…reliving those hours before that first cry, that last gasp.
Birth and death
time before a milestone
birth and death
time before a milestone
first or last
© Tournesol ‘15/12/01
Haiku Horizons “ground”