Why We Cannot Stop Thinking About the Pregnant Ukrainian Woman
I was going to write about how in each of us is a creative spark. Hidden deep or worn on the skin glowing and luminous, depending on the day or hour.
But in the midst of war it feels like an obscene luxury to write about art and inner life, or how it takes work to cultivate a sense of quiet (no matter that those are the things that allows humans to emerge from war still human). It feels obscene to bemoan leafblowers and garbage trucks and Twitter addiction, when my tv screen shows a pregnant woman on a stretcher cradling her belly as she is carried out of a smoldering maternity hospital, and we are now being told that she and her baby have died.
What good are words on inner light and art to her, or the doctors who tried to save her, or her husband and father who went to retrieve her body?
See her in a different light, say three weeks ago, luminous. Stringing twinkle lights in the baby’s room, hanging a mobile above the crib, pausing for a Braxton-Hicks, hands on her belly. Happy or nervous or hopeful for the life she is about to be born into: long nights, sore nipples, wet diapers; softest skin, quietest longing, deepest eyes locking.
And is there another child, a soon-to-be big sister or brother? Or is this to be the first time she feels her milk come in, the aching tingling fullness, the relief of latching on — a relief both physical and emotional, learning that her milk does flow, her child will grow. Will it be the first time she feels the heady power of being all another human needs — nourishment, bottomless well of love, defender against all dangers?
Not all dangers. Nature may know nothing fiercer than a mother’s love, but a bomb is not of nature.
I turn away from the tv and indulge for one moment in magical wishing. I imagine mother and baby floating, rising, a unified twirl as blurry as a skater’s grand finale revolutions. I imagine them rising above the pain, the noise, the fear, the putrid smoke, the shattered eardrums, the broken hope, our forlorn failures and our lust for revenge. I imagine them arriving, their hidden sparks intact, restored, glowing in the firmament, watching what we do.
Let us not forget. Let the echo of her round-bellied body on a stretcher inform our decision-makers and strengthen their resolve. Let their deaths be the last.
Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is at work on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. LauraNicoleDiamond.com. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.