The Other Side of the World: Aug 13, 2006

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Live a little

I know I whined in one of my last posts about having to get up so early for my hospital placement, but I was unprepared for the universe to prove me so bloody wrong about my reluctant attitude last week. Thursday morning after an hour's full-moon-flooded walk to the hospital I spent most of the day with a delightfully sage midwife (dare I say the grandmother archetype?) and the most glowing new mother I have ever clapped eyes on - who just happens to have an inoperable brain tumour. There is something inexplicably potent about being around people who are exuding a sort of awareness-of-life that you can't quite grasp at yourself, but that you get a sense of, as if it was passing by, just out of reach. It wasn't sappy, nor even emotional, and if there were any cliches being tossed around (O, the miraculous perfect baby that was-not-meant-to-be-medically possible. Score one for the non-medical!) they were so appropriate as to be matter of fact, and nothing more. It was just one of those days that makes days seem less complicated and more austerely beautiful. "I realized", the woman told me, as she patiently withstood my doubtlessly clumsy poking around her body, "that a midwife doesn't need to be maternal to matter, only that she has to be there. With you. For as long as it takes, for whatever it takes. The whole way, without glory, without needing your praise". There seemed to me a spiritualism in her philosophy that sat nicely with us in that moment together, mutually smeared with blood and cotton wool and surgical tape. That whole day made me breathe a sigh of relief; that my life (by all appearances) will be long, that gloves and antiseptic soap are plentiful here, that I don't have to worry about being wise and maternal before I am ready to be, and most of all - relief that there are still days where all is raw, and painful, and new, and wise, and perfect.