13 November 2011

Meditations on the Laundry

I didn't do it because I wasn't aware of what was going on -- on the contrary. I could see how things were, but I did it anyway. I could have given up right then, but instead I did the laundry.


On one of the few days we had an afternoon at home, I washed clothes. I folded diapers, arranging them into neat stacks on the changing table. All the onesies and socks and pants that we bought for him hadn't been washed for a few weeks. And so I washed them.

Pressing my BlackBerry between my ear and my shoulder, I talked to my mom. "I know how it looks," I told her, folding his onesies and pants. "But as far as I'm concerned, I'm planning on having a baby at home."

I knew how bad things looked. And while deeply compassionate, the doctors never sugar-coated anything for us. But as long as he had life in him, he was -- in my mind -- going to come home someday. Even when it looked like the night of his emergency surgery was going to be our final goodbye, I went into the mother's room and pumped. He was still alive then, and if he made it, he was going to need his mama's milk.

I wasn't being naive. The act of pumping, like the act of doing laundry, was a choice. It was an audacious and deliberate act of hope in spite of how it dwindled and thinned before my eyes. There is a type of hope that is naive, I suppose -- deliberately blinding itself to reality, burying its head in the sand to protect itself from the truth. But I wouldn't say that the hope that denies reality is really hope at all.

It might have looked to the world like I was burying my head in the sand as I pumped and laundered away. But it was, in the moment, the best way I could find of affirming the life of my son. I would do the laundry until I knew for certain I had a reason not to.

I think of this while I do the laundry in preparation for a little girl's arrival in several weeks. I do not think anything is going to go wrong -- there is no reason at all to expect it will -- but having lost one child already, I cannot blithely pretend as though having a perfectly healthy baby is something that is guaranteed to me.

But she is here, and she is healthy. So as she kicks away happily, I am audacious and confident. I will do the laundry.