No more kind nurses. No more jolly nuns. By midsummer I had finished watching the entire series of Call the Midwife on Netflix. Most sadly, there would be no more daily doses of real-live babies being born, the highlight for me of every episode. Births remind me that life is ongoing, blooming fresh and miraculously. My own two birthings had completely changed my world. So for weeks after the last Midwife show, I trudged heavily through my days, daunted and dazed like I’d lost my beloved family.
Around that same time, off the west coast of Canada, there were reports of a mother whale keeping her dead calf afloat for seventeen days as she swam along with the rest of her pod. The whale carried the baby on her head, diving deep into the Pacific to push the dead calf up to the surface each time it slipped and sank into the depths of the ocean. She did this for a thousand miles or more. Until the baby’s body disintegrated.
As a bereaved mother, I could understand this. It reminded me of my own efforts to keep my dead daughter’s spirit alive. Wearing Marika’s clothes, reading her poems aloud, eating her favorite foods, listening over and over again to the CD where she sings with a voice that still pulls at my heart … doing all the things she loved to do … I tried desperately to keep my daughter from sinking into the depths of oblivion. Over the years since she died, her life became my life. And any sign of life at all became precious.
“One of the cows is giving birth!” friends announced, last week, shortly after I arrived at their farm for a potluck dinner. I dropped my dish-to-pass and hurried to the barn. A minute later, facing the tail end of a huge black and white dairy cow, I witnessed the birth of a girl calf. She was big. And alive. Standing stock-still, I watched the miracle. And the world suddenly felt right again.
So now I’m wondering why, the next day, I was seized with trembling and nausea when I discovered two nests of new baby mice in my kitchen cabinets.
What does watching or hearing about someone being born do to you? Do you feel emotionally fried when your favorite TV series ends?