What did the other pregnant woman think, later that day, as she navigated around my daughter wailing on the steps, despondent at having to leave?
That night Matt and I went to a funeral parlor to say goodbye to a 6 week old baby I never had the chance to meet, a cousin of Matt's. Theirs is not my story to tell but he had AML, a type of leukemia typically only found in children with Down syndrome. Tests confirmed he didn't have it, but this tiny fact made me perversely feel like part of the story.
My heart is broken for the family. The empty nursery, the silent birthdays, the thousand shattering reminders to come must stretch in front of them like space itself. And their loss has wrenched open an old wound of mine too, one that I thought had healed, so I stood in line to pay my respects with arms crossed and jaw clenched, trying to keep it together. I'm sure I looked angry. I think I was. In what twisted, dystopian world is this how it ends?
In order to distract myself I counted light fixtures and pregnant women. There were a lot. Of both. And, god help me, but I could not help but wonder as I stood there how many of the pretty, weeping pregnant girls had taken that "new blood test" and how many of them weren't pregnant any longer because they had. I wondered - probably unfairly, because I'm sure all their friends are lovely people (though even fuzzy statistics back me up) - if they made a distinction between our cousin's loss and the end game of that test.
An Australian couple recently used a surrogate in Thailand and conceived twins. When it was revealed one had Down syndrome, they reportedly asked the surrogate to abort. She refused. After the babies were born, they took the "typical" one back to Australia and left the one with Ds behind. There've been no reports that they formally put the baby up for adoption. There was no medical fund. They just left. This story only has a not-horrifically-tragic end because the surrogate mom continued to care for him as her own, took him to a hospital, and the story got out. A trust fund has been set up for the baby. However the story could have easily ended with a too-tight blanket over the face or a dearth of bottles, and no one would have been the wiser. No one would have cared.
The contrast between our cousin's standing room only funeral and the baby left behind left has gnawed at me all week. It's not just the difference between 46 and 47 chromosomes, of course... except it was.
If we didn't have birthdays, you wouldn't be you.I tear up, every time. Because, may God forgive me, but if I hadn't lost Brennan and if The Girl had been diagnosed sooner and if I hadn't felt her kicking, it might have been a possibility. And I cannot fathom what grotesque fuckery would have made that OK in my head. I cannot explain the apparent hypocrisy between then and my unforgiving judgment of worried future moms now, beyond the fact that I have now spent 6 years with this child and my world is brighter because of her. I simply do not recall what my concerns were. I wish I could convey to those moms how very fragile life is and how much joy can be sucked out of even an unconventional one. How little those numbers matter. How they should grab on to what they have because it might not last. To carpe diem.
If you'd never been born, well then what would you do?...
Or worse than all that... Why, you might be a WASN'T.
A Wasn't has no fun at all. No, he doesn't.
A Wasn't just isn't. He just isn't present.
But you...You ARE YOU! And, now isn't that pleasant!