Leo arrives for the afternoon. His mamma’s due date has come and gone, and she’s seeing the midwives. The two of us play the afternoon away. The three-year-old decides the plastic dinosaurs require a soapy bath, and they receive one. There are card games at the kitchen table, matching shapes and pictures. Wind-up toys everywhere.
Alicia returns. Midwives found her 3 centimeters dilated! Baby will be here soon. As they are leaving for home, Gary arrives. He and Mike walk the garden paths, inspecting the retaining wall construction, then settle into sunroom lounge chairs for a beer. Gary’s phone beeps and he apologizes, checking the message. It’s his wife, out-of-town with her family, keeping vigil at the bedside of her 94-year-old father. He is hours from death.
Daily, I check Julie’s blog, missing her posts, which have been regular as rain for many years. Nothing. Bill, her husband, is living his last days with pancreatic cancer. Two to six months are left. The diagnosis was received mid-December.
Kenzie calls on Sunday with news of her pregnancy. She’s the eldest of the nieces and nephews, the first to marry, and now the first to launch the family’s next generation. Baby is due in October.
And this was the week, the interminable week, 35 years ago, that Morgan was admitted to Children’s Hospital, dying 4 days later with heart failure, complications of pneumonia. Her frail body made it all the way through winter, but compromised with a heart defect often found in babies with Down Syndrome, she was unable to gain weight and thrive, and our daughter died on the first day of spring.
We are, all of us, coming and going. The days come and the days go, due dates, birthdays, baby-on-the-way announcements, death days. Play dates, vigil nights. Be present to this day, no matter what it holds for you. Looking out the window of Morgan’s hospital room the morning she died, the spring sun was brilliant. In the midst of losing her, I did see the sun.
*(The Wheel, a Wendell Berry poetry collection. highly recommend.)