This past weekend, at a memorial service for my Aunt, the priest shared his experience witnessing the birth of a child. He noted that he hadn't imagined, until witnessing firsthand, the amount of pushing and pain that it takes to get a baby out into this world. It was, he explained, as if the child were protesting (as they all seem to do): I'm perfectly comfy in here and I have no idea what's out there, so I'm staying put! Ha!
He likened this to death. That since none of us can know what's involved in the great beyond, all we can seem to muster is understandably fear and apprehension when it comes to even contemplating death. But that, like the baby, we must find within us that bridge of faith, someone who would stand by our side and see us through: who, in the baby's case would be all those that shower him with constant love, affection and care.For us adults, it would be the Universe, a higher power, God, God expressed through the words, gentle action and care of those who love us.
Of course I thought of my own kids: both were reluctant about entering this crazy world.Fratellone, it seemed, wanted nothing more than to live inside me forever, enjoying the Tesco Swiss Rolls and the Hagen Daaz midnight dark chocolate ice cream. Even after a ride on the top of a rickety double-decker bus and several jerky Tube rides, sex (feeling like an elephant, I might add), curries, cups and cups of raspberry leaf tea, many, many walks around London - he just wouldn't budge - and he was two days late already. It reached the point that I finally just collapsed into a ball of tears, wondering, in my raging hormonally induced state, if this baby thing really would ever happen at all.
The same with Pupa. With her, I tried all of the above, as well as swimming and "membrane stripping' - but not even that could get her to take even the slightest step in the birthday direction. She was due the 22nd but was instead born on the 24th. Whereas Fratellone made the snap decision, Oh well, may as well..., popped his water bag and came out fast and furious, Pupa had to be induced. A slow dripping pitocin began and for an hour, she seemed to say, No. You can't make me do it. No. No. No. You'll see! as both of our hearts beat steady and slow, until the pitocin was cranked up and she had no other choice. Alright! Fine then! + excruciating pain + a few pushes on my part - and there she was, ready to live her life.
Even babies when they let out that first piercing cry - with their smashed up faces and super pissed off expressions - they really do seem to be yowling, I didn't want to have to do that. Why did you evict me? Whhyyy? No fair!!!. Until finally they recognize that indeed there are cozy arms to hold me here, gentle voices no longer so muffled, pleasant, familiar smells, something warm and sweet to drink, and well, they just must sense that everything is going to be okay, or at least we'll try our best! through the beaming smiles and wide-eyed joy, even if they can't see or exactly understand.
I wish I had the faith to believe 100% that there is indeed a heaven. I hope (when I am a grey-haired centenarian, great-grandma to several) that I will indeed possess that bridge of faith that will carry me into whatever comes next with dignity and the sense of a life well lived.
I do believe 100% that there is someone showing me the way - who I choose to call God. There have been times in life when I too was scared to let go and follow whatever it was that was laid out before me. How much easier it would have been had I just let go and taken a deep breath, Okay. Here I am. What's next?