Somebody pushed one down a snow-covered hill.
It started with my seester, last week, suggesting that next time she and her husband head out to Vegas (which they do annually for a specific trade show), I might join them, and use the trip to meet my daughter, whom I had surrendered to adoption a generation ago. Financially, I can't afford to travel, which is why I hadn't yet been out to meet her after contact was first made, more than two years back. Her father had met her last summer for the first time since her infancy, but I just couldn't swing it, no matter how desperately I had wanted to.
But my seester offered to pay much of my way, if needed, so the seed of thought that this may be possible for me is now planted.
And then, somebody asked me, over the weekend, about my last -- and highly treasured -- betrothed. He is a very special man, and we have always shared a great deal of love and respect. The only reason we could not marry was, I guess we could say, geography. He was from Southeast Asia and a patriot, and I am a very American woman. I could not have been happy away from my home, and he was not happy away from his.
While we were together, though, we started a pregnancy. I had been using multiple methods of prevention, and the combination counteracted each other, with the back-up plan failing completely. We had not expected a child. We had not been prepared to have one so soon. But we would have given everything, anything, to bring that life kicking and screaming into this world. It was accidental, unintended. It was also ectopic due to the old-fashioned IUD I had used, unrecognized as such until I had hemorrhaged and collapsed, and it was, therefore, dangerous.
I nearly died.
We lost our son -- the only son either of us could have had, it seems.
Love does not conquer all.
I had forgotten, for all these years, how very much my beloved Ratfink and I had wanted to have that son -- he had wanted a large family. I had forgotten how desperately I had wished I could have raised my daughter, as well. I had stepped aside from my losses and thought I had moved on.
So. Here am I. I have lived more than twenty years with this, and it seems to have sat in waiting for something to remind me that it was there, this lost, frozen parcel.
Grief is a strange creature. If you allow it to, it will lurk in odd caves of the mind, often too patiently, making itself look like just another snow shadow to ignore, until its time comes. And as it waits, it gains strength with each snowfall. It eats, it feasts on other storms of the spirit. For some, the beast comes out in a rush, an avalanche of pain. For me, it rolled out slowly, bouncing around at the edge of reason before it gathered and let loose its full force.
The catalysts came in rapid succession:
- John Palmer posted an article on the ethics of infanticide.
- The news was released that fetal stem cells may be the best/only real treatment for some forms of blindness.
- And then came the coup de grace: of all things, a nighttime soap opera, a television drama I accidentally surfed into. In Grey's Anatomy, the OB/Gyn who has been caring for a supremely happy couple had to break the news to them that the child they had been awaiting is dead. She cried. She let them know. They all cried. I cried.
I couldn't stop crying. Two hours later, I was still crying.
And, once I stopped crying, I realized, in what I had been writing about fetal stem cell research, about euthanasia, and so on, that our ethics are not at all tied to reason, not tied to rational thought. They are about visceral responses, about recognizing moral boundaries based upon simple, fundamental, gut reaction to right and wrong. When we talk of medical ethics, we are really discussing the impact upon more than a single person, a single patient. We are discussing the emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact upon the entire society.
We, as a free society, are a brotherhood.*
What you do to my brother, you do to me.
Because I understand, because I have experience at living, the pain of another's loss is my pain. This is as it should be, or else we become soulless beasts of nothing more than selfish appetites.
It's not exactly the most rational selling point, but there it is. That's where morals, ethics rest: they define the precipice between the snowball and the ever-expanding roll toward humanity's destruction.
*please, let's not go into sexism in language, here, okay? The French used to have it right -- if in words only.