Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All That Time/ Coffins at Dover

Some recent photos of coffins from Iraq and Afghanistan, being flown home to the US via Dover Air Force Base, gave me this thought: that every adult that dies was once a baby, and someone invested so much time in them.

The photos are the first to be allowed of the coffins in 18 years. I was paging through the photos, which are actually pretty repetitive: coffin, draped in flag, being unloaded, a soldier in full uniform standing beside it. But what I saw was: young man inside, who was probably just 22 years ago, a little baby being gazed at and held by his mom. It made me really sad to think that inside that coffin were years and years of a parent's time, energy and love.

After Mommy and Me Yoga last week, two other women and I went to lunch with our babies. The Swedish woman has her baby sleep under a quilt (evidently Swedish mommies are way more easygoing than American ones!) which clearly goes against SIDS rules: sleep on the back, no quilts or blankets in the crib. She mentioned that once they can turn and lift their heads, babies are less at risk for suffocating. The other woman then said that when she was little, a cousin of hers had a baby who died of SIDS at 4 months, and that for the couple's next baby, they watched it on a video monitor at all times if it was sleeping in a different room. Her point was that four months had sounded pretty young to her, but now that she was holding her own three month old, she could tell that he was already his own little person. I added, "Yeah, and you know how much time you've already invested." Of course, we changed topics pretty quickly after that, because the idea of SIDS is just horrifying. You can't think much about that, or you'd never sleep.

Babies certainly do give you a new perspective. Examples:
1. Thinking of the soldiers in the coffins as grown up babies, rather than just adult men.
2. I keep thinking these days, that even the world's worst adult was still once a perfect little baby. It really puts bad people in perspective, and you have to wonder how they end up that way. It has to be the parents' fault, because babies are just angels personified.
3. I'm going to stop going into banks, because banks in my city get robbed every few months, and in-person banking is just not worth that risk. If I were in a bank with Q, and a robber came in, I would lose my mind. (I'm tempted to start packing heat, seriously.)
4. I freaked out when I saw a baby bird struggling to fly near a store this week. I was trying to figure out who to call, because I had to do something. Other passersby were useless, so I ended up calling my vet (crying), and they gave me a wildlife #. I was totally seeing that bird as a baby that needed help, and I was freaking out because I was worried I'd try to ignore it, then not be able to forget it.

(Then, the bird got under a lady's car, and I wouldn't let her drive away until I ensured it wasn't under her car. She even got on the ground to check with me. She was the most compassionate person I encountered, besides the kind receptionist at my vet. Then, I didn't know where the bird was, so the problem was solved. I'm going to assume it learned to fly and flew successfully away.)

Yeah, sometimes it's challenging being me, but it works for me, and I like it.


CT Mom said...

Being a parent changes your perspective on everything. I find that I'm more aware of children in distress. Yesterday, I was in Marshalls and there was a little boy and girl marching around the store. I didn't think anything of it until later as I was leaving, when I saw the same two still walking around, the little girl crying "mama!" and her brother bravely leading her through the store. I tried to talk to them, but they didn't speak English (it sounded like Russian to me), and I was concerned as the girl looked like she was about 4, and the boy couldn't be more than 6. I kept an eye on them until they found their mother in the store.

The idea of any child being hurt or abused emotionally or physically hurts my heart. I want every child to be safe, loved, secure. I felt that way before I became a parent, but the feelings are much more present as I'm guiding my own children through the world.

Daphne said...

I have thought the same thing when a young adult or teen passes. Obviously it's shocking and terrible and the second thought, is all that thought, feeling, love that went into that life!
heart breaking.