Yesterday was my first time in a hospital since September. I think of my brother every day, all day. But occasionally I am struck heavily by emotion of a certain memory or thought that I may not have expected. It didn’t occur to me that this would be my first visit in a hospital until I was there. And even when I did realize it, for a few moments I was okay. But as I walked into the hospital to see my best friends’ new baby, I met the faces of other visitors and distinctly remembered looking into the faces of other visitors for the three days we spent at Rob’s bedside. As we journeyed the halls of that hospital, I often wondered if the patients, nurses and guests could see the grief on our faces. The pain had such a physical presence within my own body that it seemed impossible for someone to see me but not see the despair and know exactly what was happening to our world.
Some of that despair returned to me while walking through the lobby yesterday. The wash of tears, an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. As the elevator carried me to the maternity floor, I tried to compose myself. Tried to stop myself from having a complete meltdown because this time, I was in a hospital to celebrate new life just brought into the world. Not to say goodbye to life passing much too soon.
Thankfully, the joy of holding a new baby allowed my grief to pause for an hour. I snuggled, cooed and laughed. I listened to the birth story and saw the love pouring from my friends who had been made parents for the first time. These friends had prayed for years to have this reality and here, she had finally arrived; her new life a complete blessing as she forever changed their world. Their struggle was finally over and the proof was physically in their arms. She brought with her the promise of dreams fulfilled and hope restored. My heartache, while never gone, was soothed for the moment to seeing their long heartache removed.
As I drove away from the hospital, I was struck – and I’m certain this is by no means original – but still, I was struck by how one building could house so much despair and yet so much hope. In one physical location, some families are forced to say goodbye to a long loved one while others can joyously say hello to a brand new addition. On the one hand, it seems to be a cruel joke to keep such odds together. And yet on the other, maybe it can be good to have them together; a yin and yang balance. Because if we did not know the heartbreak and despair of life lost, I’m not certain we could fully appreciate the hope and beauty of life just beginning.