A Vast Image-Life
For all of the joy and adventure one can associate with childhood and child-rearing, there is a flair of foreboding, even menace, that I associate with children—beings close to the beginning of ‘life.’ My caution is no doubt linked to the vein of narratives that trade in demonic possession and passage (The Omen, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby) but this apprehension could also be stoked by their proximity to non-life. Their newness to the world of the living. It could also be the fact that many instances of childbirth can spell catastrophe for the person giving birth and to the person being birthed. Proximities like this can be sticky. The places where life and non-life leak into each other reveal how enmeshed they are, contrary to the sovereignty I have been taught to expect.
A pregnancy is a series of events, but it is hard to downplay labour and birth as points of heightened significance. My sister almost died while giving birth to her first child. She had a form of preeclampsia, which put her and her child in grave danger. Six weeks before her due date, the family was slightly more scattered than usual; her husband away for work, my father and step-mother away for vacation and myself away for school. As is usually the case, she was the calmest of all of us and I cried in a cafe until she phoned me from the hospital and told me the plan.
Birth is a fulcrum at which we might place the beginning of life, and of this particular moment I wondered if the state before life (if anything at all) is the same space as the state after life? I suppose this would have to do with how one conceptualizes and visualizes life; as a corridor between rooms? A pool into which we dip very briefly? A fire which burns and goes out—possibly without regard for or a conception of its fuel or the ashes it leaves behind.