"The challenge in life is to make music from what remains."

I heard this haunting quote from Itzhak Perlman while listening to local public radio today. They were talking about death and sorrow. You can read the full transcript here (by the way, if your local public radio is also having their Spring drive, I encourage you to consider contributing and supporting this wonderful community resource!). 

With abundance of life around us, Spring is naturally a time to reflect on the cycle of life: birth and death. Sadly, in our society, there's a dearth of frank discussion about these subjects. Is it taboo? Too gross? Is it just too morbid? Well, I promise you that this post is neither morbid nor deep/enlightening.

I've always been fascinated with the subject of birth and death. It is often said that there is similarity between the two. Here, I share with you a few that I know to be true:
  • Older person are more child-like than their younger self. Most of them loves to indulge in things that matter, perhaps because they've denied those very things all their lives.
  • While in labor with BabyLorp, I could hear from the fetal heart monitor that his heart rate went slowly down, down..., down....., and stopped. With each push and contractions, his heart rate would go down and eventually stop, only to bounce back up. PapaLorp panicked the first time he heard the heart beat stopped, but the doctor reassured him that it was normal and part of birthing process. Parallel to the dying process, the heart rate also slows down then goes back up, then slows down, and then up, etc. The cycle repeats many times before the heart eventually stops.
  • These cycles, both in birth and in death, can happen in a matter of hours, or days, or even weeks. Yes, looking back, I was in labor for a week before BabyLorp's arrival, blissfully unaware, only to think that the little twitches were nothing more than annoyance.
  • My first experience of death was in the third grade. My grandpa was the color of pale yellow and grey in his open casket, lined with aluminum, the kind old-fashioned ice cream containers were made of in ice cream parlor. A guest in the wake said to me, to cheer me up, that he'd probably turn into ice cream. I knew it wasn't true. 
  • As in birth and death, one knows it will end eventually, one doesn't know when or how. When I was pregnant, I knew I'd give birth eventually, but when and how, I didn't know. I suppose the same thing happen with death.
  • To love someone for life or to have a child means also to be willing to accept the possibility of witnessing their death as well -- up close and personal. Perhaps this is the true meaning of, "till death do us part?"
  • The most traumatic death I've ever experienced was that of my beloved dalmatian, Doudou. I wasn't there with him, and I never knew to this day the details of it. All I knew was snippets from my mother and my brother that it was quite gruesome. It has lived in my mind as the worse kind of death. Then one day, I dreamed of Doudou coming to me, all healthy and happy, and the next day, I learned that I was pregnant with BabyLorp. 
One of my favorite quote about birth, death, and life is from Eckhart Tolle. "Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal." Somehow, I know this to be true.

I welcome you to share your thoughts on birth, death, and life.


  1. Claire,
    I found your post so beautifully written. I just experienced the loss of my father over this past summer, and many of what you wrote rings beautifully true.

    Cheers for putting a beautiful post on your blog.

    1. Thank you, Bellyhead! I'm very touched by your comment. I'm sorry to hear the loss of your father. Death and sorrow are certainly part of life, and I do hope you find sliver of respite for your loss, big and small, wherever you are.