Monday, April 27, 2009

The Pact

They say that there are no qualifiers to become a parent. There are no exams, no Litmus tests, not even any blood tests required to spread a seed. The thing that is asked of us is that we sign a non-binding agreement with our baby, our child.

Our end, the Mommy and Daddy-end of the bargain is pretty involved. We will be awake on command. We will pick noses when they are crisped over with boogers. We will wipes asses, kiss foreheads, cancel dinner plans when fevers spike, and compromise parts of ourselves for the good of our offspring. We will gaze at baby photos, brag to unsuspecting cashiers, and squirt ibuprofen down a throat if it will cool her forehead. She'll stun us when she walks, propelling that body on her own when it was so grounded mere weeks ago. We'll love the wee thing ferociously, becoming the parent we couldn't imagine we could become before she was ours, and wake up eager to be Mommy and Daddy again today.

Her end of the pact is simply this: Outlive us. Outlive us.

The unspoken first rule for every baby is that she is to go on living long after her parents are gone. She is to be the harbinger of the customs, the sayings, the love of her family, well beyond the day that we die. No matter what else she does, what other joys or griefs she brings to her family, her end of the pact will be upheld so long as she goes on living.

When the pact is broken, hearts break. So when I read the story of this little girl, Madeline Alice Spohr, I wept for her parents. I called home to check on Violet.

I think of her parents during Violet's baths and during her dinner, when she is playing and especially when we go to sleep. I think of the incredible emptiness I felt for months after my Dad died and can only imagine that emptiness mutated and multiplied when a parent loses a child and not the other way around. The unspoken pact, the rule of nature, the DNA that was crafted with all intentions being sent on down the line; all gone in an instant. The ache of it all is too much and I only wish there were some way to give this Mommy and Daddy, and all Mommies and Daddies who have lost a baby, a shred of consolation.


Jen said...

You just HAD to go and do that to me, didn't you? Poor Avery could not escape my bear hug for about an hour after reading that story. I used to think the "you'll never know that kind of love until you experience it" stuff was a crock. Not so, eh? Glad Vi is feeling better. There will always be other nights, other dinners, but never a better feeling than having your Mommy there when you're sick.

Aly said...

Wow, her blog is incredible & sad all at the same time. Their loss is something I hope we never, ever know. I totally agree Jill, the kids only have one part of the deal, to outlive us. I just can't imagine it going any other way.


Babs said...

I cannot imagine, don't even want to imagine, losing a child--at ANY age. Heather's blog is gut-wrenching, and she reminds us so painfully of that quote I've shared with you on several occasions, and the one I know you truly understand--that having a baby is consenting to allow your heart to walk around outside your body for as long as the child exists. Parents all over the world have suffered the same loss that Heather & Mike just endured, and they will continue to do so through time. I hope no such knife ever cuts anyone close to me, but after the losses our family has endured of late, I also know that we are not special in that regard. We simply must accept that each moment of life is a gift from the universe, one to treasure, as it may just as easily be gone from us without the slightest warning. That is the beauty and the exquisite agony of it all.