Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Her Whole Life

Today is the 33rd birthday of our second child, known as little Joanie. She was born more than three months prematurely and weighed under a pound. She lived almost three days, finally giving up her fight for life on January 5th. She lies now in London Grove cemetery, next to her grandparents and her cousin, Dallas, who died of SIDS in 1974. Joanie’s gravestone reads simply: “Joan Blaine, January 3-5, 1979, “God’s own, the earth’s and ours.” It is not our custom to bear our sadnesses in public, but I think it is also important to acknowledge a life that was lived to its fullest, however curtailed it was. Joanie never got out of an incubator, never drew a breath on her own, never probably knew where she was and why she was here. But she lived, and we rooted for her to live longer, although the odds were always prohibitive. When a child lives such a short time, it sometimes seems self-indulgent to talk as if the grief at her loss could compare with those who lose a child they have known far better and loved far longer. And so the tendency is to say nothing, to say, I have four children, knowing that I have five. In this I think the pro-life people have a point. Life is precious, and no one can judge when another’s life begins. But to make that belief a litmus test of political ideology is as shameful as to fail to recognize the sacredness of life – all life – itself.