Sad to say I spent some time watching Star Trek last night since Mackay has decided to record the 6 episode marathon TNG sessions that are on Sky every weekend (rather record than watch, so you can fast forward through the ads).
(Note that this is quite a.... pfft. 'Personal' entry I suppose)
However, they have got to the stage of some rather good episodes, include a Q one, and more interestingly, the one in which Data creates himself a daughter, Lal. Lal, as we are told during the episode, is Hindi for “Beloved”.
Beloved is a word I use often to describe those most close to me.
Anyway, it’s a beautifully written and played episode, marred only by the lumpen, grumpy and very old-school acting of the Marshall, or whatever his name is, who wishes to remove Lal to a Star Fleet base for analysis and development. The lass who played Lal did a lovely job.
In the same way that I cried during Lilo and Stitch because it was about creating love and family out of nothing, I curled up on the sofa and cried for a large percentage of the episode. I blame my hormones, of course, not the fact that I’m such a soft nit.
Then afterwards, I could not stop crying, and I realised how much it had touched a nerve relating to last year, when I lost what I felt deep inside was my daughter. From inside me. That incident had a profound effect on me and I will never deny her the space that she deserves in my heart, for me to remember and grieve. I know she was never born. I think it’s not too understandable unless you’ve been through the experience but in the time it took for me to look at the two blue stripes on the plastic stick, I’d fallen in love with her. I felt magical, as if I’d been blessed and was carrying a goddess. Almost as if, if you pulled back my eyelid you would see white light emanating from within, and I emitted a golden ready-brek glow. Almost as if I had a neon sign above my head simply saying “Wow”.
In eight days she went away and in those eight days I wrote her letters I intended her to find when she was old, that would fill her with embarrassed happiness. Neither of us were in a position to know that there was something terribly wrong, and that my body would reject her.
I think I never really understood what grief is until she died. As well as that, the experience gave me a profound incite in to why people believe in heaven or an afterlife. When someone you have unconditional love for is suddenly wiped off the slate, the ludicrous swiftness of that action simply does not make any sense to you. The emotional commitment you have made to that person, the devotion you are willing to give them – and for them to suddenly not be there? This is madness, you think. I could feel her in the ether around me. The essence of her – as if, if I could reach out and grab her spindly, fairy thin umbilical I could reel her back in and everything would be fine again. This was – of course, a temporary aberration, and of course everything was going to be alright again. Of course it was.
But of course it wasn’t. Everything in one’s logical brain tells you what has happened, but your emotions are refusing to listen. To an extent they always will. Eventually, you accept that they are gone, but somehow not that they are no more. Hence Heaven. Heaven for many people may not be the selfish act that I once thought – the insurance policy that means you’re happy when you die instead of being a miserable atheist doomed to complete closure. Heaven may be the rationalisation of those irrational thoughts and emotional responses to grief. Instead of my darling, beloved girl being a disembodied whisper; the memory of the idea of a lovely person (she was a goddess, remember? So she was bound to be), she would have risen up in to the heavens and been happy in a different life. Ok, so she’d look a bit weird n’all being only about 4mm long and having no real brain or limbs to speak of but at least she’d be happy.
The Lal episode neatly sidestepped the whole afterlife question by having Lal’s experiences and responses to them downloaded in to Data’s brain, so her presence does stay in a literal form, as opposed to an emotional response form. A bit of a cheat, but then the episode dealt with enough ethical issues and emotions in one 45 minute slot (interspersed with adverts for deodorant and cars).
Now that my latest un-born offspring is almost twice her age and hasn’t died, I am growing increasingly frustrated with myself that I don’t feel the same way. Again, from a purely logical perspective it makes perfect sense, I’m trying to protect myself from being hurt. But – doesn’t he (or she – my feelings aren’t so strong on this one, so I’m not so sure) deserve to be loved in the same way? Given that I hope this record will be here for years to come, I want to point out to my at-present unborn beloved just how much love is waiting for you on the outside. When you get round to discovering this, and not being entirely embarrassed by the contents, you will of course already know what a gentle and lovely man your dad is, and hopefully I will have been reasonable at guiding you through some of the pitfalls in life, as well as instilling you with a love of Laurel and Hardy.
So whatever you do, don’t feel jealous of your sister-that-never-was. Given how short her tiny life was, I have to try and fit in 65 years of loving and memories in to the 8 days I knew she existed. And I’d never done it before at the time, so I hope I'm forgiven.
A postscript to this is that just after she was due to be born, I bought myself a solid silver ring as a memorial to her. It's very basic, it doesn't look like much although the massive hallmark on the outside does seem to have a picture of a bear in it, which is quite appropriate for a wee (very wee) baby. I became pregnant the very next cycle after I'd bought the ring. So there you go.
(It's not that I'll try not to write about this - if I feel the need to I will, of course. But... one cannot continually look back. I think of her every day. That's enough).