We are innocently born into a world of unknowns. We live and then we die. The cycle of life from conception to death has been completed. Once we depart this planet our words and deeds will be the legacy we leave behind.
For some the opportunity to live a full life is nonexistent. After taking their first breaths they may succumb to disease, trauma, or by accidental means. We stare off into space wondering how/why these things happen, but alas, they do.
Lamaze classes were nonexistent when my first child was born. Dads weren’t allowed in the delivery room and instead were ushered into a waiting room where the cigarette smoke was thick and hung in the air like an old bingo hall. There wasn’t much conversation among those waiting and dads paced and chain smoked until the obstetrician would call their names. It was a gut-wrenching and numbing time of anticipation wondering about the health of mom and baby. By the time I was summoned to see my wife there was only one other expectant father left in the waiting room.
I remember my wife was shaking all over when I saw her. The doctor told me she was suffering from a form of shock. Then the miracle happened as the nurse brought in my baby girl. We were filled with love, joy, hope, and thoroughly into this most wonderful moment when we heard a woman sobbing on the other side of the curtain. Her husband had joined her as the doctor expressed his sincere sympathy on the loss of their child. Apparently, this woman had miscarriages in the past and through her tears, the doctor kept reassuring her how young she was and kept encouraging the couple not give up and to keep trying for another baby. I could not imagine the pain and sorrow they were feeling. Here we were, a family, celebrating life on one side of a curtain and on the other side a husband and wife were mourning the loss of a child. There is life and there is death and it can all happen in an instant.
The required three-day hospital stay was over as I scurried up the hospital sidewalk. The morning was awash in bright sunshine and I was agog and completely oblivious to my surroundings. Walking in my direction were a man and a woman. He had his arm around her and a solemn aura enveloped them. It was the couple from the recovery room who had lost their child. I lowered my head as they passed me on the left side, not knowing what to say. My happiness was countered by their grief.
Yesterday a man walked into a school and entered his estranged wife’s special education classroom. Two children stood behind their teacher as the man shot and killed his wife and then took his own life. One child was critically injured and an eight-year-old boy died. This incident touched me deeply for a number of reasons. I weep for the teacher, the child who died, the child who was critically wounded and for all the children who will be traumatized forever.
We live and then we die and when the latter happens is anyone’s guess.
Dennis L. Page