Waking up, Dorothy tried to piece together the scene in front of her: her husband’s worried eyes; the doctor at her side; the two policemen looming in front of her; the frantic nurses running along the corridor outside.
Once she realised what was going on, she immediately touched her belly, feeling for a sign of life there.
Her husband’s soothing whispers slowly formed familiar words.
“Slept enough now? You had me really worried there.”
“You don’t remember?”
Yes she remembered. Again, she saw the blaring headlights, heard the tyres screech, felt the tug of the seatbelt, and relived the pain and fear. Fear – not so much for her own life – but for the life living within her. She caressed her belly again.
Her husband put his hand on hers. There was something he needed to tell her.
Days passed, months withered away. Still, Dorothy kept feeling her empty abdomen. But every time, she found no warmth there, only a scar from the caesarean.
Her loving husband, Frank, sat with her everyday at home. Sometimes they spoke, but often she was lost in silent contemplation. One autumn day, she softly said,
“I used to think these tears I cried were out of sadness and anger, but I was wrong.”
“So why do your tears fall?”
“Out of love. I miss my baby; I still care for her. I know I’m attached to her.”
“You know attachment will only bring suffering.”
“Yes I know, but can I not be attached? Can I just forget about her? I’m her mother!”
“I’m not asking you to forget about her, or to stop loving her. If you did do that, you’ll only fall into the other extreme of indifference. I only hope one day, when you’re ready, you can let go.”
“Let go? That’s what I’m saying: I can’t let go. I don’t want to let go. I would rather suffer than to stop loving my child!”
Frank smiled gently, “What you need to let go of is not our baby. Metta, or loving-kindness, should always be accompanied by wisdom. You need to accept the situation, and realise that everything is transient. Our baby will always live on in our hearts, but first, you must continue living.”
“How? I feel my whole purpose of living died when…” She sighed. She could not continue.
“The Buddha once exemplified the selflessness of Metta by comparing it with a mother protecting her child, even at the risk of her own life. But He also explained Metta as being greater than that because it is more universal and boundless, void of any attachment, expectation, discrimination or enmity. Perhaps you can see this as your chance to cultivate your maternal love into universal love.”
Dorothy didn’t reply immediately, and Frank continued to sit by her side quietly. After a while, she began again, slowly,
“All along I’ve been mourning the death of a baby who wasn’t even born, and wasting my life like someone who was dead. I didn’t even see the seasons pass, and now that autumn is here, I miss the spring weather and sun-showers.”
Frank took his wife’s hand and smiled, “You may have missed seeing the flowers of spring, but you have witnessed the truth of impermanence. The Metta of the universe has produced the wonders of nature, just as the Metta within our hearts can cultivate the virtues of humanity. These days, we are too concerned with own fleeting happiness, we often forget the real reason of our being.”
Dorothy smiled from the heart and said, “You remind me of Martin Luther King.”
Her husband laughed, “Really? How’s that?”
“Because King once said, ‘We have flown in the air like birds and have swum the sea like fishes, but we have yet to learn the simple act of walking on the earth like brothers and sisters.’”
Frank smiled and lowered his head in his modest way.
Dorothy stood up, “Care to take an autumn stroll in the garden with me?”
“Of course, my dear.”
“And we’ll be needing an umbrella as well.”
“An umbrella? What for?”
“I may have missed the sun-showers of spring,” Dorothy laughed, “but there’s still the leaf-showers of the present.”