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.