10 July 2013

Not bad is very good

This is a familiar sight in our lounge. Sun streaks in over the scattered lego creations that are so very precious to their creator. The washing that dried overnight on the clothes horse by the heat of the fire has been folded into piles, one pile for each destination in the house. The clothes horse awaits its next load, which will be sunned during the day (if we're lucky enough to have any sun) and brought into the deliciously roasting air of our lounge again tonight.

(No, of course the daily wash doesn't fit onto the clothes horse - if I'm lucky half of it does.)

It would be so much easier without children, wouldn't it? No hoops or jigsaw puzzles or lego catalagues or violins or artwork or fingerknitting supplies to find places for. I could do washing just a couple of times a week. Just two people's crumbs to sweep and wipe up instead of four. No after school classes or lessons to attend. Evening after evening entirely under my own command, with no baths and stories and rituals to attend to.

But then I hear of the pregnancy of someone I know - not very well - but like and admire. Someone who I've always thought should have children, so much so that something was wrong in the world if she didn't. Then I heard she was pregnant, but that something awful had happened.

And maybe yesterday, maybe next week, or perhaps even right now, she'll be in the hospital, administered labour-inducing drugs, delivering that baby, knowing that she'll get to meet her child. It has been the focus of her joy and dreams for about 18 weeks, but that's not long enough; the baby is too young to survive, so she will hold it, and it will take just a few breaths, I suppose, then die.

Most terribly of all, this death is a choice the parents have made because the baby has something wrong with it. I've been told it was a complicated, horrific choice, and not entirely unanimous between the parents. The father had a previous baby with the same health problem who died. He could not face it again.

This happens, doesn't it? Life's terrible pain strikes randomly around us, in our own communities. The daily newspaper's death notices tell us how every day people die. It's a rare day when there's not a young person's death stamped there in black and white, the monotone typeface revealing little of the buckets of tears radiating out from that fact.

So I shudder a bit, cry a little, tend to my domestic tasks peacefully, and enjoy the little things. Yesterday when a school mum asked me how things are with our family, I told her things are fine, and that that is a very good thing. Uneventful and generally healthy are in fact glorious conditions. She's a palliative care specialist, so she knew exactly what I meant.

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