Joining “The Club”
Today my gardener that works one morning a week called today to say he’d be late. That was so unusual I didn’t press figuring it was both none of my business and if he wanted me to know why, he’d say so.
Arriving in the afternoon he told me how he joined the club no one wants to belong to, the one of losing your unborn baby. Stifling tears, we hugged and I couldn’t have felt more sorry for him and his family.
Unless you are already in the club, it’s not one anyone gives much thought to. Once in, there’s no getting out. Ever. Nor can you ever forget you are in it.
Plus once you start talking about your loss folks you’d have no clue they experienced a similar loss open up. It simply does not come up in everyday conversations. Lucky for him, it wasn’t the first pregnancy. Striking out the first time at the plate must be devastating as you don’t know if they’ll ever be another time at bat.
For men, we react differently than the ladies. Potential moms have the hormones and physical pain. Husbands are normally obsessed with keeping their woman happy and healthy being eternally gratefully she is still alive. Their reactions to the actual loss of a child can take years to surface. When it does, the man’s reactions can take you completely unawares thinking the situation had passed long ago.
Again, as a lad who spends an inordinate amount of time in cemeteries talking about the Mexican view of death and how a culture views death greatly impacts how one lives life, I admire how Mexicans reacted.
One pal immediately provided the couple a Baby Mary doll stressing how the image doesn’t replace the lost baby, but rather reminds you daily of Mary’s love for all her children. She’ll be taking care of their baby now and they can be assured he or she is well cared for.
Speaking of he or she, when a baby leaves too early to determine the sex folks often refer to that baby as Maria Jose (or Jose Maria). Both are popular names among the living and for the dead it dances over that pesky gender issue. Look closely and you’ll see a number of masses offered up for long ago Maria Joses that live on in their parents’ minds. These long ago babies continue to age in their minds and at any point they can tell how old the “baby” would be today. They are always welcome with altars over Days of the Dead.
Babies more developed can be legally buried in unmarked graves in the Pauper’s Area of the cemetery. For many Mexicans, no one wants their baby buried alone. Instead, after a rushed blessing by a priest the baby will “share” a tomb with a stranger in an unmarked internment. Once placed in the ground the person doing the burying will ask the tomb’s original resident to help their new neighbor adjust to the ‘hood and keep an eye on the baby.
My last son was to be named Valentine, thinking who doesn’t want to fall in love with their Valentine?