I am sitting in the Munich airport in Germany, letting my cappuccino cool a bit while I try not to throw up from stress and lack of sleep.Last night should have been a nice evening followed by some deep end-of-jetlag sleep.Instead I lost a grandchild and nearly lost my daughter.
I can smell death even thousands of miles away.
Death and I are all too familiar with each other.We nod at each other in passing and upon occasion touch base like old colleagues who no longer have much in common but still recall closer times.
I remember Death like this.
My precious daughter found out she was pregnant which didn’t make any sense given other symptoms so off to the doctor she went.After hours of anxious tests the diagnosis came back horrifying; an ectopic pregnancy.This is a serious, life threatening condition.This news was followed by a shot to shrink/dissolve the dying or perhaps already dead fetus and the threat of invasive surgery to come if things did not drastically improve in just a day or two.Ironically, one of the drugs administered used to be used in chemotherapy treatment.
I lost a grandchild and I nearly lost my daughter and yet there I sit, thousands of miles away unable to do anything but continue this all-too familiar and eerily silent dance with death.Leave my child alone, I scream in my head but Death shakes its demonic head back at me, smiling beneath a shroud of horror and inevitability.Death does not discriminate nor is Death inclined to do me any favors, I having, after all, beat him a few times already.
Hey, you got to keep the kid, Death says mocking my pain over the loss of second, instantly loved and dearly wanted grandchild.Pain for the loss of second grandchild and pain from the heart stopping, stupefying fear of the near-loss of my child.Had I not just recently told her all those terrible cramps were ‘likely nothing’? What kind of idiot excuse for a mother was I? I should have insisted she go straight to the doctor then and there but I never connected the dots.She has a tough time getting pregnant so we never thought it was possible, not without the hormones she took to have Claudia The Baby.
Just like when I found a dent on the side of my chest that turned out to be breast cancer, I never made the connection.
Something, I think, Death was counting on.
Boy you sure don’t learn, do you, Death commented mildly.Death can afford to comment mildly because in the end, Death always wins.Even though I give Death the proverbial middle finger every chance I get, Death is patient, Death knows Death is going to win eventually.
Meanwhile, I am watching the scudding icy clouds frost the Munich skyline like celestial, angelic icing.It is an arctic-worthy fifteen below zero here and I’m off to leg two of a press tour ─ something that sounds totally glamorous and jet-setting but actually is nothing more than really hard work, long hours, split timing logistics and praying that my otherwise really nice executive doesn’t get pulled away to do something else by the European sales team because this project took a heck of a lot of work to put together.Forget that that next leg of this trip is actually in Paris, it’s still freezing cold in the City of Lights and my only solace is that the German airport security didn’t make me take my snow boots off, a seriously weird turn of events since you always have to take your shoes off while going through security in a U.S. airport.
While I sip my cappuccino, feet warm and heart icy cold, I am silently grateful that my executive and business traveling partner is spending the weekend with his cousin in Stuttgart while I go on to Paris for what was to be my own culture-fueled weekend.I don’t want him or anyone else to see me this way. Death has done, yet again, a fine job shredding my poise and humorous reserve.Humor, in fact, deserted me entirely around dinner time last night when my daughter called with the news that she was pregnant and that something was ‘wrong’. I proceeded to drink a little too much at dinner while a friend who held my hand, metaphorically speaking, and tried to reassure me that my child would be ok.It was a short evening and I was not good company.
Back in my room, I slept a fitful hour or two while I waited for text messages to update me.I called my BFF, nearly hysterical, though I was calm and soothing when I spoke to my daughter.It was going to be ok, I kept repeating over and over while not believing a word of what I was saying.
Please don’t die, I kept repeating in my head, tears resolutely unshed but my stomach twisting violently in bitter, sickening knots.Please, please, please, please, please do not die.When my daughter told me she was opting for the less invasive treatment and turning to surgery only as a last resort, I was absolutely livid.
Give Death your God Damn Fallopian tube!!! I kept screaming in my head while calmly saying aloud that it was ‘her choice’.At that moment in time, I felt it should be anything but her choice.Clearly, I should be the only one making decisions, I thought irrationally.I was the one who, after all, knew Death best.I kept speed dialing God who, as usual, was busy dealing with things like bloody riots in Syria and earthquakes in California. And sometimes even making images of the Virgin Mary in tortilla chips in Mexico or something.
Death conversely, always has plenty of time for me.
This morning, I crawled out of bed, violently sick to my stomach and on auto pilot.I packed, checked out and got myself to the airport like I had a hundred times before and would likely a hundred times again.I thanked my luck, once more, that I had the weekend to pull myself together and then I called my sleepy, mildly sedated daughter. The shot had not hurt she reported, brave as ever.And she had experienced no violent reaction to it as we had feared.The doctor would do more blood work on Monday to see if her hormone levels were reversing; apparently a reassuring sign that the medication had worked and everything was on track and that surgery would hopefully not be necessary.I kept my voice modulated and calm, telling her how sorry I was about the baby.She cried a little and was overwhelmingly sad.I could taste her tears.I did not say there would be another baby because while that was likely true, it was also a fact that there would not be another ‘this baby’.There could be a different one but not this one.I understood her lost and I was never more grateful for a non-English speaking taxi driver.At least our pain had some measure of privacy save for Death, of course. Death continues to tap on my shoulder to remind me he’s always around.
See you next time, Death says casually as Death saunters off to destroy someone else’s life.
Not, I think darkly, if I see you coming first.
Then I board a plane so I can get to the fabulous City of Lights, check into a genuinely French hotel where I can finally lie down and, like a child bereft of comfort, crawl up into a ball while Death wraps is icy cold arms around me and whispers in my ear.
Death will always haunt me, asleep or awake. In my nightmares or my waking days, Death is always with me.