Tuesday, 31 May 2016

On Disengaging

As I get close to my 35th birthday, that traditionally pivotal biological milestone, I spend a great deal of time thinking about whether I would finally like to seize the chance to become a mother.

Today I got blood drawn for a genetic study I'm participating in.  As I sat in the lab waiting room in a busy city hospital here I watched post-operative patients pushed by on beds in the hallways. I listened to a husband and wife discussing the complex set of tests she was undergoing.  Saw surgeons hurrying by. A complicated, fast paced, sterile, helpless world.  I don't want that desperate scrambling.  I have suffered too much already.  While I once would have done utterly anything to cling to life, I no longer want to rage against the dying of the light.  I want to go gentle into the night.

May a mother do that?

...

I badly wanted to photograph one of the first patients I sat with.  She apologized to me for the gauntness of her face but she was terribly beautiful. Her black cat asleep on a sunwashed white window seat behind her, she turned her face to the light which fully illuminated her face.  Her cheeks yes, were sunken, and her skin covered in dark age spots, striking in the sharpness of their character. She was a vision of experience, fullness, and calm.  Of suffering and surprise and all of the living that she has done that we younger people have not yet.

She told me several times that she didn't understand why God hadn't taken her yet, because she was ready to go.  Still, she indulged my questions about her past and took interest in me, smiled shyly at my teasing.  When I was quiet she slowly turned her face back to the sun and rested in her secret, closing contemplation.

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