there were many joyful things about this last weekend (surprising my grandmother at her 90th birthday party, waking up to a beautiful snowstorm, getting to slc and home again safely) and many exhausting things about this weekend (a toddler with a fever, a toddler who wouldn’t nap, a toddler who screamed at the top of her lungs for a full 30 minutes on the plane) but i am most struck by two very sad things i learned.

#1: i was without a book and so read the slc newspaper back to front, including the obituaries, where i read about a 21-year-old woman who “passed away peacefully in her sleep along with her unborn son.” thinking about everything her family lost was hard, but not the end of it.  the obit went on to describe the baby’s physical characteristics — whose ears he had, and whose hands — in a way that made it very clear he was delivered.  based on the opening sentence, it appears he was delivered post-mortem. i had to put down the paper and close my eyes and breathe deeply through my mind’s wanderings as i wondered what the phrase “passed away peacefully in her sleep” elided (pre-eclampsia? blood clot/stroke? dumb bad luck?) and imagined all the various reasons the family would have chosen to deliver the baby (in particular, i suspect, to be able to more fully mourn him), and contemplated the woman’s husband’s decision to agree to cut open his dead wife in order to see his dead child. who ever  thinks they’ll have to live through something like that?

 #2: i learned that one of my youngest cousins (j) had a baby girl who died under suspicious circumstances at her babysitter’s. one day j and her husband took the baby to the sitter’s house and then went to work. somehow during the day the baby died. j was at work at the time of the  baby’s death, and so had an alibi that kept her from being a suspect, but apparently her husband was driving between work and home at the time of death, so he was under suspicion. as were some neighbor kids who may have had something to do with it. i wanted to know more details, but there are some things that are just too hard to ask a 90-year old woman.

there are times when i think nobody understands the depth of my own personal sorrows. and then there are times when i am so glad that my sorrows are not as deep as other people’s. and while it’s good to be reminded of that, it’s just wrong wrong wrong that there is always somebody, some family, some heartbroken woman with a sadder tale to tell. it’s as if grief has its own version of infinity, where the longer it goes on the worse it’s getting for somebody, somewhere.