Life’s Pregnancies

The three children arrive as quickly as they could.  The nurse said it would only be a short time now.  They gather and assemble around the bed as though the now was happening now.

Hours pass and they’ve relaxed on the couch and chairs around the hospice room.  They don’t use the words but all of their eyes tell each other that now may not be the now that the nurse thought was now.  (“Oh well, modern medicine,” as chuckles hide their hidden grief.)

It was only 40 and 45 and 48 years ago that she laid in a similar bed full of hope and anticipation.  After all it’s her first and only…no, it’s her second and we hope the last, but no again and number three arrives.  Each one, pregnant with pregnant joy.

What is “pregnant joy?”  It’s the kind of joy that makes your joy joyful.  Without the pregnant part, it’s just another church word that you rarely hear otherwise.  Who says, “My, what a joyful punch you’ve served!”  No.  Joy is a throwaway word preachers use to bolster an awaiting noun.  But a pregnant joy we know even though we can’t always believe that it’s possible.  “Pregnant” because of its fullness of unknowns and potential. “Joy” because of its ultimate otherness.  Put those two words together and you get unspeakable feelings of peace, contentment and, yes, even bliss (another word too rarely heard).

Day three arrives and the three remain dutifully around her bed.  The stories these three have recalled and remembered over those days made them laugh and cry with always a glance or nod to their silent mom.  Nothing’s changed but everything has changed.  “The pregnancy of this waiting had to grow over these days,” they say to themselves only without those words.

Waiting was a lot easier years ago than it is today.  We’re so mobile now with our immobile products that keep us connected to people we don’t really need to talk to and message each other useless information and silly photos.  That small logo “i” identifies many of our handheld products and represents what we’ve probably become because of them – instant, impatient and immediate.  (All “i” words!?)  Their waiting wears on after day five but the three believe the pregnancy is drawing closer and they don’t wish to miss it.  It will never happen again no matter how they may try to imagine it in their minds.

The labor she bore during those three times was predictable, nothing special except the special life that life provided.  Two weeks of hospital respite gave her time to recoup, a luxury that is a 33 1/3 vinyl record away from our present lives.

The short breathes were the giveaways.  The three were just recounting a 30 year old story where milk was spilled all over the birthday cake when mom began calling them.  They were all laughing when her breathing got spotty and heavy.

The pregnancies that she prayed and hoped for came to be.  Three strong, healthy children circle her bed.  Two heads are now lowered and the youngest is crying.  She passed.  She died.  The pregnancy that her mother bore her now gives birth to the pregnancy she now enters.  I guess that would make it her second pregnancy.

This pregnancy has been germinating for years and years and years and it’s now come due.  Her life’s labor has ended.  Her new life begins as surely as she gave new life to her three children, hardly children anymore who say their final goodbyes as she says, “Hello.”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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