Don’t we also, rushing towards the future, ultimately return to the past? Don’t we die at the same moment that we are born? Don’t we bid farewell forever to someone while saying “hello”?
I don’t know, Mom, how you screamed when you birthed me. I don’t know and don’t remember. They say that a baby experiences real shock leaving its mother’s womb and entering into the real world. They say that it is cushy and warm in the mother’s womb. There is bliss, the same bliss countless philosophers and theologians have sought for centuries, building complex intellectual theories like forests around temples (but few make it inside the temple).
Perhaps the temple of bliss is the mother’s womb, where a new life mysteriously begins, where the sky, the stars, and even God and angels may exist.
Before me, mother, my sister Leah lay cradled inside your womb, and then my older brother was conceived, only to be stillborn because negligent doctors infected you with hepatitis during the pregnancy, killing the child you were about to give life to.
While still a child, when I found out about this from my parents’ conversations, I experienced a strange mixture of guilt and happiness, since if he had been born, my parents hardly would have wanted a third child. But it’s hard to imagine, mother, that you would have rejected the thought of wanting to have me.
I remember well the birth of my son, how my wife screamed on an obstetric table in a Queens hospital. It was two a.m. The ob/gyn was called at home and was informed that his patient had come from Brooklyn and was having contractions. He ordered an epidural shot and said that he would be there shortly.
While the ob/gyn was washing up, shaving, getting dressed, and filling the car with gas, the African-American nurse on duty understood that it was pointless to wait for him; it was time to deliver the baby. She hooked up the monitors and ordered my wife, “Press your chin against your chest! Like that. Now push! Push him as if you’re sitting on the toilet with constipation! Harder! Harder!”