Easter Sunday and my waking thought today is, “That carpark was so familiar to me and now I don’t visit it any more.”
The hospital carpark. The one I knew like the back of my hand. The timing required to find a park in the rare as hens’ teeth undercover spaces. The best tree shade in the vast lot. Where the ring road went and how it’s better to cut through between buildings if you have a careful driver in front because it means they will go all the way around and you’ll make it to the gate before they do. The distance to the entrances. All of them – the one to the lift and then the undercover breezeway, the one that most visitors use, the entries that are less commonly used except for the serious visitors – the long term ones like you.
I woke up gradually, after startling somewhat that this thought – out of any number I could have had – was the one my brain chose to lay out before me as dawn crept into our bedroom. What purpose could that thought have? Why have it if not to change a perspective, find some kernel in it that is useful to me (or better yet, someone else)? Do I have all the ingredients to make pancakes for breakfast this morning? Did any mice get the Easter eggs that were carelessly dropped by a less than stealthy Easter bunny last night as he hopped clumsily from the LGBB’s bedroom and out the front door?
Thoughts are mercifully funny like that. They can change on a whim and distract you from yourself.
After my dog Pepper was cremated in February, her body was returned to us in the most exquisite carved heavy wooden box. Nailed shut. Tamper-proof. Amazing. So respectfully and tastefully done. These were animal lovers, they understood what it means to lose a beloved faithful pet. I could just tell. It was a stark and sobering contrast to what we were confronted by at the end of 2004.
See, when Steve finally plucked up the courage to collect Ellanor from the funeral parlour after almost ten months had passed – we just couldn’t, could not face the scenario…. would you race down there do you think? I don’t know, I still don’t know what I would do and I’ve already done it! – he returned home with her ashes. In a plastic cannister.
A plastic cannister. Not unlike the kind you’d store your spaghetti in.
It was up to us, the parents, to transfer the contents of that unnatural vessel into a new place. Something we had to go out and choose and create for ourselves. A job I would neither recommend nor ever wish to do again. But on the other hand, an ultimately cathartic one.
We laid our daughter’s remains to rest exactly one year to the day after she was born.
I’ve been awake for an hour now. And the longer I’m awake, surrounded by dusted bunny feet that I am just itching to vacuum off my otherwise clean floors, the more horrified I am becoming that a funeral parlour – just any old one, who KNOWS who they are? – were entrusted with the body of my firstborn child and returned her to me in a plastic container with a screw-top lid. Thanks for coming, so sad she couldn’t make it. And yet, our dog is given the respect she deserves; someone who knows the profound importance of a long-time companion and gets that you want their remains treated with care and compassion made sure that they were.
It’s harsh and it’s hard. If it’s hard to read, you can guarantee it’s pretty difficult to reconcile with as the parent. These are the things that aren’t considered. But sometimes it’s just the little details that would make all the difference. You know?
That right there. That is why society has to collectively pull its socks up. Understand that these babies are people. Important. Equal to those of us who live. Sure, we’ve come a long way since the days of whisking a stillborn child from its mother and not allowing her to see him or her. But have we really done all we can?
This may be a privileged world we westerners live in, but it is the corner of the world we live in. If we can walk in to a shop and buy pretty much anything we desire, then we should also reserve the right to have our deceased loved ones – no matter what their size or age – treated with dignity and respect.
My daughter came home in a temporary jar. That’s what my thoughts are stuck on today.
Please oh please, sweet mercy, let Lolly wake up soon.
BRING ON THE EASTER EGG HUNT.
I need to escape.