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The Cardus Daily

I Heard Some Horrible Things Today

Dan Postma  |  April 16, 2012  |  Death, Parenting, Religion

I heard some horrible things today. “Mothers have a sense for these things, you know. They just know.” And she was right, the sonographer. As I asked, “What? What does that mean?”, my wife already had her hands over her face.

The terrified “I think I may have just lost our baby,” and the clinical “This is Mother Nature’s way of making sure only healthy babies are born.” Bookends of breathless agony on a day of dull waiting, dull memories.

Mother Nature is, of course, for six-year-olds, though sometimes the prospect is appealing.

I told a friend yesterday, in confidence, that my family was growing to four. Today I wrote him, in confidence, that that life was there no more. It hadn’t been there, in fact, for some time, maybe two weeks.

It was a long period of delusion.

The arc of the conversation, now, is as familiar as its subject. I remember the early moments of our last battle, the betrayal so strong it seemed neither of us would speak. The cobwebs of past arguments dried out my mouth, and I couldn’t remember what I’d wanted to say. We had both lost, him millennia ago and me hours ago, but only I was willing to walk away because of it. If it’s possible to lose a conversation like one loses a battle, I made it manifest. Youthful arrogance, brought low again.

Mother Nature would, of course, be easier to talk to. She has a plan, or at least she has excuses. If this, then that. Ultrasounds and family histories peel back some mystery, and sometimes that’s enough. But, speaking at least for myself, I cannot luxuriate long in the moment, before yesterday and tomorrow come back for more. Mother Nature has even fewer important answers than I do.

No, this conversation is more difficult. It has more silence, more raggedness, more mystery. And it will certainly take longer, even longer than a day in “urgent” care.

I thought some horrible things today. “3/1/0/1/1″ was our stat line going into today’s game. The midwife was keeping score. “3 pregnancies/1 full term/0 stillborn/1 loss/1 healthy.” Like blowing an eighth-inning lead, our boxscore ended differently today than it should have. We were cruising, and this one seemed easy. We had it—we had it.

I heard some good news today. Argentina’s “miracle baby,” left for dead but found twitching in a morgue. That team must have great bench strength—I hope their boxscore ends differently than it might have.

Yes, I want my miracle too. But we all want, and we all feel entitled, and I know of much greater losses. Friends on the rocks, to whom even “1 healthy” has been denied. They cannot and will not speak of it, instead wading through alone-ness too familiar to us.

Child slaughters in Syria. Homeless people. Helpless hearts. The grieved wails elsewhere in the E.R. The woman on the street whose husband is dying.

We, on the other hand, today got to hear our “1 full term” say “diaper” and “please” and “uh oooooh.” And she kicked the ball to daddy.

3/1/0/2/0. Two weeks of delusion feel to me now like millennia. That’s another conversation I’ll need to have with him, though not today. Today, we can only hope to meet our child after redemption. Our pastor thinks we will. God will know the gender and the personality and the dreams way before we will. And that sounds like an easier conversation.

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