Thursday, May 15, 2008


Somewhere out there, somewhere in Maine, is a mother. I don't know her, not at all. But I know about her little boy. His name is Willows, and today is his birthday.

When this mother was pregnant with her son, she was told he would not live. Could not live. They told her that her pregnancy was in vain, that she should end it, say goodbye now, while it was still simple and tidy and less complicated.

She said no.

She held that little boy, carried him, and loved him, for the whole time. They told her he would, almost for certain, be stillborn. They told her that he could not, under any circumstances, live after birth. His body could not cope with what lay outside.

She prepared to be me. She prepared to birth this baby, this child she had loved, and created, and to greet his earthly body separately from his spirit, and to honor him always, nonetheless.

He was born, and he lived. He lived for thirty minutes. Thirty minutes this mother was told she would never, ever get with her son.

This was the day, one year ago, where one mother, somewhere in Maine, celebrated, felt gifted, and awestruck, and privileged, because she got to spend thirty minutes with her son before he died.

This breaks my heart, just breaks it, for her, for him, for his father.

And yet, I am amazed that this mother was able to realize the power of her thirty minutes, to let the feeling of her child breathing, and the very fact of his pulse just mystify and stun her, because she had been told it would never happen. While he lay dying in her arms, she had tears of the greatest grief, but also of relief, because he could hear her voice, and because she could tell him that she loved him, and because she could tell him that she would never forget him, and remind him to stay nearby.

This doesn't mend her heart. It doesn't make it better, and it doesn't make it worse, that she got to keep him for that extra half an hour. To me, it is just amazing to think, that for her to get that thirty minutes, would be like if I could go back and get thirty minutes.
In some ways, she had already been told he was dead: she was prepared for the silence. And to have that time: it will be unlike any 30 minutes in the rest of her life. When more children come, and they will, there will never be an isolated 30 minutes in any of their lives that packs the importance of those 30 minutes that Willows laid, alive, in his parents' warm embrace, soaking up the love that they had to pour into him, and onto him.

I remember you, Willows, and I'm thinking of you today. Perhaps you are holding Charlotte's hand, and she's helping you with your baby steps, up there in the clouds, or wherever you are.

*My apologies to Willows' family if any of the details described above are incorrect, I dearly hope that my own vision of Willows' day did not overshadow, exaggerate, or change any truth.


Aimee said...

Carol, you are an amazing human being. Not much else to say about it.

Jen said...

You are in my thoughts, Willows, along with your whole family. I wish you peace.

Laura said...

Carol, all I can say is thank you, thank you and a million times thanks. When I went to my parents' the day after Willows' birthday, my mother showed me how she'd printed this story out to show my grandparents (who don't use internet, but would want to see it). She was so proud to have it. Your writing has touched my husband and I beyond words. I hope you know your blog has made such a difference for me, Willows' mom. :)