Death Doesn’t Take a Holiday

The first time I rode in a limo was to my father’s committal. We had known for months that the end was near. But even so, nothing prepares you for the finality of it, the words that are spoken from the hospice workers mouth, “Your father has expired.”
The call had come in the early morning. My mother took the call. She didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand and passed the receiver to me. When I heard the words I turned to my mother and said, “Mom, Dad is dead. He died last night in his sleep.” Or something, I don’t exactly remember. I remember feeling like a train had hit me. Even when you can see the end, nothing can prepare you for it.
Fast forward a few years and I’m screaming at my OB/GYN, “What do you mean “it’s” not a baby? The (pregnancy) test is positive!” We had tried unsuccessfully without medical help and now with the assistance of fertility hormones, we had the results we were looking for. This devastated us. “There’s no heartbeat,” he said gently. “Sometimes, things just don’t turn out the way we plan.”
We were in shock as we waited to have the procedure done to remove the non-baby. My OB was Catholic and the nurses at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center were all Catholic, and they were very understanding. One even said to me, “Honey, that’s what you need to do, you need to grieve.” Back then, there were no support groups or FB pages discussing pregnancy loss. It was a secret society you didn’t want to belong to.
There are discussions on LinkedIn and FB about parental leave, caring for their elderly parents or just time off. Those who cry “foul” at others for having to take time off to bury their parent, grieve the loss of a baby or take care of a child are lucky that their lives have been untouched by death, and grief and abyss of pain that comes with that loss. Or are they? In Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel “The Giver,” only one person in the whole community has the responsibility of having”feelings.” Everyone else goes about their business, oblivious to their lack of feeling. As illustrated in Disney’s new movie, “Inside Out,” not having feelings or pretending there is no sadness or sorrow, is the death of feeling itself.