I’ve got nothing to add to these except to say that they are beautiful accounts beautifully told and that you will want to read them. One deals with death, one deals with birth, so let’s take them in their proper order.
Hospice has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Hospice has been the worst thing that ever happened to me. Sometimes I feel like I have seen too much. Sometimes I feel like I have seen exactly what I needed to see. I feel like my heart grew 3 sizes. I feel like I left pieces of my heart all over Pasadena, and Monterey Park, and Pomona. I had days where I felt like taking off my shoes because I stood on holy ground. I had days where I felt like putting on layer after layer because I felt naked.
I have holy memories, and I have haunted memories, and they mingle in my mind, like a wedding attended by two families who hate each other.
… I remember the woman whose heart stopped beating the moment I said “Amen.”
I remember the brothers who got into a fist fight after their dad died.
I remember Livia, who I sat with for hours and talked about her childhood in Italy.
… I remember Katherine, who told me what it was like to grow up in London during the Blitz.
I remember the woman who told my supervisor, “Either he needs to learn some goddam respect or else get another mother*%$ing job!”
… When you spend as much time around death as I have over these last 2 years, when every day on the calendar is Ash Wednesday, you learn that ultimately life offers no happy endings. Every life ends in sadness and grief and pain and silence. And all we can do is struggle and work, believe and doubt, hope and fall, run and wrinkle. Every person has both a victor and a victim inside of her. You have more fight and strength in you than you ever imagined, but you also have more weakness and vulnerability than you ever thought. Your bodies will decay and ultimately lose the fight, but you will battle valiantly and courageously. I have seen it time and time again from people you wouldn’t think would be so strong.
The second story is from Peter Mercurio and it’s from The New York Times. You only get a certain number of free stories each month from the Times. You’ll want to make this one of them. Mercurio tells the story of how “We Found Our Son in the Subway.”
The story of how Danny and I were married last July in a Manhattan courtroom, with our son, Kevin, beside us, began 12 years earlier, in a dark, damp subway station.
Danny called me that day, frantic. “I found a baby!” he shouted. “I called 911, but I don’t think they believed me. No one’s coming. I don’t want to leave the baby alone. Get down here and flag down a police car or something.” By nature Danny is a remarkably calm person, so when I felt his heart pounding through the phone line, I knew I had to run.
When I got to the A/C/E subway exit on Eighth Avenue, Danny was still there, waiting for help to arrive. The baby, who had been left on the ground in a corner behind the turnstiles, was light-brown skinned and quiet, probably about a day old, wrapped in an oversize black sweatshirt.
Theirs is the kind of story that makes me want to use words like “providence.” It includes a wise Family Court judge whose actions make me want to use words like “inspired.”
Family Court is not always, or usually, a happy place, but this story involves two wonderfully happy moments there in Family Court in New York City. Go read the whole thing.