Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blue eyes

More than 20 years ago a baby was born
A mere 4 or 5 months of age- or as we might put it- 18 weeks gestation. It emerged with a rush of blood from the safety of it's mother's womb and was placed in a plastic container, where brilliant blue eyes seemed to gaze at me from it's breathless body.

I still remember the feather weight in my gloved hand as I placed the baby gently in a sterile speciman container and screwed on the lid. I wanted to shed a tear- but I was an emergency room nurse- there was no time for tears.

We wheeled the mother to another cubicle- where she lay seperated from life and tragedy by only a curtain and her own silence. She had no words. Her face was a stone, and I knew not how to comfort her. I had not yet learned the value of a quiet touch or the meaning of simply being present.

We waited for her attending doc to come and write orders so we could wheel her out the door and move on. I hastened to his side when he arrived, ready to help. He asked first to see the baby- so we walked to the shelf, where it rested amid other specimans waiting to go to the lab.

To my astonishment, he quietly opened the container and gently removed it's contents. He placed the lifeless, weightless bundle in the palm of his hand and proceeded to the cot where it's mother lay. I remember that for me, all sounds stopped. I stood and watched as he gently, carefully, tenderly presented the mother with her baby. I stood and watched as, placing his other hand upon her shoulder, he encouraged her to hold her child, to touch it. I stood and watched as her expressionless face changed, as she emerged from that dark silent place within herself and hesitantly reached out with a finger to stroke the tiny head, to gaze into those blue, blue eyes and to finally place her child in her own hand. I saw her eyes lift from the baby to the eyes of it's father who had been, until that moment, a mere shadow.

I thought about that baby as I walked this morning. I thought about the way losses affect us- even losses of things which are not yet real- losses of things which are a hope and a promise.

That baby changed the trajectory of my life. I will never forget him or her. Those blue eyes are as vivid in my mind today as they were all those years ago. I wonder sometimes who else remembers that little one. Certainly the parents. I wonder how their lives were different and what affect that hope, that promise and that loss had on their lives and the lives surrounding them.

I thank God for the compassion I witnessed on that day.

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