About My Mom

Finally, the doctor arrived.

I held my wife’s hand, caressed her forehead covered in cold sweat, and watched the monitors which displayed the lines reflecting contractions and the child’s movement down the birth canal.

My God, how my wife screamed while birthing our son! The epidural evidently did not work or the dose was insufficient. Either way, I could not imagine that a person could yell that loud. I had seen and heard patients in the Emergency Department with broken arms and legs, with bullets in their stomachs; I had seen and heard drug addicts undergoing severe withdrawal. I had seen and heard victims struck by cars, heard their moans and screams. All that was nothing in comparison to the screams of a woman in labor. I had no doubt after this that humans descended from animals, since only animals could scream this way. A human has no soul-reserves to hold in so much pain, not enough lung capacity, and insufficient vocal cords to generate such cries.

Then a scalpel appeared in the doctor’s hand. He said that there was no other option; they needed to cut her open. After a few precise sharp movements, blood squirted onto the sleeve of his gown. The scalpel in his hand, which flashed before my eyes, was already red instead of silver—so too the gown, the doctor’s masked face, and the nurse standing near him. Everything was covered in blood.

Oh, how my wife wailed! I only heard something like this twice in my life. The first time my wife screamed like this while birthing my son.

The other time, like a wounded deer, my sister Leah wailed after a sullen Jew in a yarmulke, a funeral home employee, said that your casket, mother, was already inside the hall, and we could go in to tell you goodbye.

I went in first, and Leah after me. After standing for a bit, I left the hall and withdrew to a narrow corridor to be further away from that terrifying place. I covered my ears firmly with my hands, but it was pointless. I could have left this building, got into my car, and drove to the train station, from there to California or Alaska. I could have filled my ears with wax, but still I would have heard Leah’s wails over your coffin.