I don’t have children and I have never witnessed childbirth but I have no doubt that it would be a profound and life-changing experience. With the passing of my father-in-law recently, my wife and I have now lost three of our four parents in a little over two years. In two of the three cases, I was there in the last days and hours and moments. I can’t help but imagine that the experience has some similarity to childbirth.
In each case, our loved one is at his or her most vulnerable. Ours is the first or last voice they hear. Ours is the first or last human touch they feel. We would go to any length to protect them with our own needs becoming secondary. Without even a thought. And yet, as the protectors, we are at our most vulnerable as well. Not recognizing our emotional fragility or physical exhaustion until everyone is safe.
Of course, one situation evolves into a lifetime of creating memories while the other devolves into a scenario where reflection and memory are all that’s left. But for a short time, it seems to me anyway, the act of being born and the act of dying evoke a similar response from our loved ones. Just different passages. And we’re all just passengers.