A Child, a Death, and a Memory
Not quite a few years ago, in a room as dark as the night sky, my wife and I held our newborn daughter close to our hearts as her heartbeat slowed and she breathed her final breath. We had met Vivian fifteen hours earlier, when she let out her one and only loud cry.
I am often given to recollect some moment or other from her incredibly short life, and when I dwell upon these memories, her life flashes before my eyes. It’s strange: our time together was so brief I could not come to know her personality, her character, her interests, her likes and dislikes, and yet despite all this, and while she was missing the top of her skull, she was to me then and remains to me now a whole person. Complete. A life lived. A story told. Not as complete as it should have been. Not as long a life as I would call fair or just or right. But there it was, and here I remember it.
Perhaps this perception of fullness in the face of brokenness speaks to the power of love. Perhaps love reveals to us what cannot be discovered by the pursuits of the intellect. I’m inclined to believe this. I’m inclined to say that love is the master key to unlocking the meaning of life. I say this because, if I have not been deceived, love has shown me the world in the bruised face of a dying child. I have seen everything because I have loved another completely, from the beginning of her life to its untimely end.
It is strange, this gift of death. When Vivian ceased her precious movements and her body relaxed as if in slow motion, when our inexhaustible love and sadness poured out of our exhausted hearts, eternity opened before us. When I reflect upon these memories, I am bathed in the light of a timeless, once distant world. What is that world? That world is love.