Before Christmas my husband and I went to see the movie Arrival and it sparked a great conversation about death, permanence and moments of glory. (If you haven’t seen the movie you may want to skip this post because I don’t think I can talk about this without spoilers.) The question the movie brought up is an interesting one – if, before they were born, you knew that your child would die young, would you choose to have the child anyway? And we both answer yes without hesitation. Even though it would be temporary, we would still enjoy the years that we could have. And who’s to say that those years aren’t worth living. My husband made the point that often when we experience something that really brings us joy, we want to make it permanent. When we went on vacation to Europe, one of his first thoughts was “oh I want to move here!” We want to own the experience, hold on to it, make it permanent.
After we had our daughter we began discussing whether we should try for a second child. Mothers with type 1 diabetes, like me, are more likely to have babies with malformations. Sometimes these babies’ brains, skulls, and spinal cords are so affected that they can only exist within the safety of the womb. As soon as they are born they cease to live. We felt like we took a gamble when having our daughter and we came out ahead. Maybe we should quit? While we were debating that question a friend of a friend (also type 1 diabetic) was pregnant. Her baby was developing with these spinal cord issues and they knew there was no way the baby could live outside of its mother. And so the mother was given a choice to continue the pregnancy to term or to terminate early.
This story made me think long and hard about what I would choose in that situation and I came to the conclusion that I would carry to term. If I had to miss out on my child’s entire life then I would at least have those few months of time with my child. Who’s to say that those few months are worth any less than our lives here on earth? In the grand scheme of time, both are equally insignificant. But on a personal level both are significant to us.
My favourite aspect of Arrival was how they captured the tiny, glorious moments between mother and daughter; wading in a stream, bedtime conversations on the edge of sleep, the tiny grunting noises a newborn makes when you pick it up. Those are parenting moments that you don’t really explain to anyone but you hold them deep in your heart like treasures. You got the sense that the mother was savouring those moments because she knew it would be fleeting.
Permanence is an illusion. Moments of glory are real.