Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Being honest

"Richard, I want you to be honest with me."

"Uh okay.  Uh.  Yeah.  It's Katie, right?  Yeah.  Katie, I've got to be honest with you..."

"Excellent Richard.  Thank you.  Just be upfront and tell me.  I've got a pretty good idea.."

"Now look, I'm afraid I have to be honest with you..."

I couldn't help but smile.  And I feel badly!  For someone who loves to make people laugh (yes, that would be me) I have been making so many people nervous lately.  Or suddenly sad.  Or cry on sight.  Or simply stare.  I wonder if it's written on my forehead... but no, that can't be.  When I'm not crying, people seem normal.  Like the guy who shouted at me, "HEY!  Did you nick my car?" when my open van door barely touched his.  (It hadn't.)

But back to Richard.  I'm glad the undertaker got over falling over himself to be honest with me.  He was.  Which was good, because I needed to know.  I was preparing to say goodbye, to place mementos in a beautifully white arms-length coffin, and arrange a tiny pink blanket.  And I knew a D&C and autopsy was no beauty treatment for a little baby.

I know many would disagree with me, and you would have nurses and surgeons and undertakers on your side: Why put yourself through that Katie?  Just let the professionals "handle it."  But I could not live with that, because I am the mother.  And this child, that had been stolen so suddenly by the hospital and then claimed by the funeral home ever since it left my body was finally to be back in my possession for a few brief moments of care.  And I needed that to make all this real.  To have my baby handled by a mom who loved it rather than all the specialists that have been poking and prodding her for days.

Let me put it this way: suppose you were an artist (okay fine, I'm flattering myself :) who'd been working on a masterpiece, daily, for months.  You thought about it all the time.  You poured your heart and soul into improving and protecting it.  You ached all over from working on every angle of it.  The fumes from the paint made you sick most of the time, but it was worth it for what you were creating. 

And then there was an unexpected flood and somehow, your beloved work was ruined.  Completely destroyed. 

You are told this by a third party.  You are devastated, and ask to see what happened.  But you are told that "it is inadvisable."  That it was impossible.  That it was not allowed, for your own good.

Wouldn't you be like "What the h---??  But it's mineI made it, not you.  It's crucial to my happiness, but it means nothing to you... I understand what this was, not you.  I know how best to deal with this, not you.  Why are you trying to protect me from my precious work?"

Well, that would be my reaction anyway, and you are entitled to your own and I will certainly respect it.  But for me, after this most precious work had been removed and stored and examined and tested and transferred... then, and only then, I was finally allowed to review the damage. 

So what do you say when you finally see your beloved work in this condition?

You... sigh.  And start to cry.  And try to sing a lullaby, but settle for a whisper.  You place a little lamb, a tiny angel, a sweet little cross nearby.  You tuck her in the very softest blanket that your husband had just cut to perfect size.  You place the gentlest kiss on the quiet face.  "I'll see you in heaven, sweet thing."  And you slowly close the lid with trembling fingers, and trace a cross on the casket as it snaps shut.

Then, you pull the rest of the tissues out of this weird ivory box, sniffle and blot and dry, and look at the two copper lamps beside the cross that are emitting a strange amber glow.  "Dan, we gotta get us some of these for our living room.  Very uplifting.  A true mood enhancer." You notice that the coffin has a faint golden "Made in Canada" sticker on the side.  "Abundantly untrue," so you peel that off.  You pray a bit in the large room of empty chairs and plush carpet, and then prepare to leave.

The funeral director escorts you to the front door, looking at you as though you are a stick of dynamite near an open flame.  "Please accept my deepest condolences." 

"No.  I cannot accept them.  Oh okay, fine.  Maybe one.  If it's chocolate."

You drive straight to Pinkberry, and get a large.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb....your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13,14


  1. Katie.....!!!!! Many hugs sent and prayers said for you tonight.