Jackie Kennedy and Missed Opportunities?
Soon after, my friend gave birth to Chad. She loved to stare at him too, she felt his spirit as she nursed him and connected with his baby gaze. Yes, he was beautiful and perfect too…all except one thing: He had a birth defect that allowed him to thrive inside the womb, but the minute he was born he began to die. I forget the name of the defect, but I remember it had something to do with the heart and how the heart changes duties once we’re born. When it was discovered that something was very wrong my friend was given a choice: Hold Chad in her arms until his life slipped away or send him alone to a hospital better equipped to perform a surgery that had a very small chance of success. She and her husband could not afford to accompany their son.
My friend was a lot like me…afraid of public displays of affection or showing vulnerability; proud that she rarely cried-like Jackie Kennedy. The woman who was held up to us as an example of how to handle difficult situations-of course we now know Jackie was drugged into being “poised”.
When she chose to give Chad a chance, albeit small, the nurses quickly took him away from her and placed him in a bassinet that could be transported on a plane. All of a sudden the mood changed from intimate moments with a small family to 10 people standing around a tiny baby and one take-charge person telling my friend it was time to quickly say goodbye to her son. They didn’t give her a ‘moment’, they didn’t turn their backs-- and my friend in her immaturity and vulnerable circumstance only touched the toe of his little baby body as she whispered, "goodbye". He was still alert and aware. She didn’t have the social practice to take her arm and push away the others so she could lean over her son’s face to kiss him and tell him how much she loved him, to encourage him that this trip is all for him, so that he could live, to place her finger in his baby grasp…the hospital staff showed no compassion or wisdom-they could have helped. This incident haunted my friend for as long as I knew her.
Chad died among strangers after hearing the voices of his family and the beat of his mother’s heart for months. My friend told me about the parting, how angry she was at herself for not having the ability-for whatever reason-to properly say goodbye to Chad.
Even though my friend and I have lost touch years ago, I look at my son and often remember Chad, knowing he’d be the same age. This happened 29 years ago and it didn’t even really happen to me, but I’m so soo sorry, I pray that good things replaced the pain and regret for my friend.
Today I was watching an episode of Brothers and Sisters where twins are born and only one survives. The tears that the myth of Jackie Kennedy had bottled up came spilling out. I cried for at least 45 minutes…screaming howling, deep sobs of sadness. I wonder what other things are inside that have been denied a proper response. I wish I knew how to contact my friend.