I am hosting book club next week (something I now have the seating to do thanks to our new living room furniture!), and I chose a book I'd read about, I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell.
It's subtitled, "Seventeen Brushes With Death," and it's such a fascinating concept -- a life told in nonlinear vignettes of moments where death was disturbingly near, titled by the part of the body that was endangered or to blame and accompanied by antique anatomical drawings.
I am almost finished, and I've really enjoyed it...with one notable exception.
I was not expecting the one that was titled "Baby and Bloodstream," a tale of miscarriage. I was doing okay up to a point and then I threw the book to the floor and started sobbing, and when Bryce asked me what was wrong and I couldn't really articulate it in my own words, I simply picked up the book and started to read this passage out loud:
"Why should we carry on as if it's nothing out of the ordinary? It is not ordinary to conceive a life and then to lose it; it's very far from ordinary. These passings should be marked, should be respected, should be given their due. It's a life, however small, however germinal. It's a collection of cells, from you and, in most cases, from someone you love. Yes, of course worse things happen every day; no one in their right mind would deny that. But to dismiss a miscarriage as nothing, as something you need to take on the chin and carry on, is to do a disservice to ourselves, to our living children, to those nascent beings that lived only within us, to the person we imagined throughout the short pregnancy, to those ghost children we still carry in our minds, the ones who didn't make it."
Let me repeat that one part:
"to our living children."
The assumptions there. (Not to mention that I'm not sure in most cases children are conceived between two people in love...very romantic idea, that, but is it really accurate?)
I get what she's saying in many ways, and I didn't hate all of it. I mean, somewhere in an alternate universe a child is turning five this week and he or she could have been ours, but here that child didn't make it out of size comparisons to seeds. I get the concept ghost children.
BUT I DON'T GET LIVING CHILDREN. There was no rainbow baby for me. I did not get the chance to have any living children; my losses weren't tragic bumps on the road to parenthood. And I am not alone in being left with nothing but ghost children to hold on to.
It was a double suckerpunch, one because I read on the flap that she had three children and didn't see a recurrent miscarriage story coming, and two because of this feeling that I got, perhaps because of the time of year, that living children are a given.
And they're not.
The next story featured getting pulled from shore in a riptide and a massive wave, so I was able to continue reading on without further book-throwing. I do recommend it, but know that there is quite the gut-punch waiting for you in the middle, around page 100. Honestly, you could probably skip that one since they're not super interwoven.
Sigh. Never a true escape from this.
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