As someone who has gone through the complete infertility roller coaster from the first diagnosis to the last failed attempt at In Vitro Fertilization, I found myself always dwelling on when life began. I know there are many opinions on this topic from a religious or political aspect, but go through what I’ve been through and you’ll start to feel that life begins at conception. Especially during IVF, this moment can be very easy to detect from a doctor’s perspective as it is done outside of the body. As some of you may know, last week a very dear friend passed away from Cancer, and now I find myself reflecting on a RadioLab podcast I listened to a while back which discussed when a person is really considered dead and it has helped me find some comfort.
When we’re kids and someone passes away many times we are given the generic answer that he or she is now in Heaven, and that usually suffices until we get a little older and realize how the human body works. Now, I’m no doctor, nor would I claim to be, but just as people have their views on when life begins, they too have an opinion on when life ends. There are three major ways most people view life ending: 1. when a person stops breathing 2. when a person’s heart stops beating 3. when there is no brain activity. In my reflection this week, I have found that there is a fourth way and it is the one I believe in: 4. when a person is no longer spoken about.
I have lost many people and even pets in my life, but the one thing that keeps them alive for me is sharing my memories of them with others. I know that over the years, many friends and family members have witnessed our dear friend Frank and I doing the twist together at the occasional wedding or Bar/Bat Mitzvah. I’ll talk about my sweet dog Button who was so scared trying to get away from a friend of mine that she ran inside my refrigerator. I picture my bubby telling my younger cousin who was a toddler at the time that she couldn’t breastfeed him because she was “all dried up!” My husband and I recall his buddy Daryl visiting him in the computer lab while we were in college and, after watching him write some code, said, “Well that’s just a bunch of letters and numbers and stuff.” Sure, I remember getting the news of their passing, or in Button’s case witnessing it, but the point is that they are still talked about and still very much a part of my life. I just hope that if I can share my memories with enough people, then those I’ve lost because of one of the first three ways will never be lost because of the fourth.