Julia, you may tell me, she will do these things again in heaven. As true as that may be, it is not enough to stop the tide of unremitting sorrow that is swamping them and so many others now. Heaven is not meant to be a salve to stop earthly pain. It is the answer to the pain caused by the forces that oppose God, but it does not mean that pain is not real when it is experienced in this life.
I've literally thought about her body growing cold, her ashes or her dust, her 3-year-old wondering again where Mommy is, her husband replaying last words over and over. I think about the small anniversaries passing by at a horrible clip- last week she, a month ago she, two months ago she...
A friend pointed out that this is terrifying in many ways. It is, I agreed, because this is the kind of fluke risk we have not accepted. We have considered (or not considered) the risks of car travel, heart disease, breast cancer. We know that there are wars and even shootings in public places. We've weighed the effort to keep ourselves in good health and to balance our rest and our work.
We don't weigh the risk of a fluke medical situation when we go to the hospital to have something treated.
Even when we know the US has very poor maternal care, especially for black and brown women, we still assume most things will be fine.
An unusual reaction to medication, causing our brain to seize, is not in our catalog of worries.
Or it wasn't.
The way we make it as parents to simultaneously try to control everything and to accept that we control almost nothing. Rachel's death showed us that we aren't in control of things we hadn't even fever dreamed.
What can we do?
We can remind each other of the low chances of this kind of death and that it likely wasn't preventable.
We can work to prevent the deaths that can be eclipsed, especially with regard to maternity and maternal health.
We can promote the truth about vaccines and preventative medicine.
And we can assure one another that if the worst happens, we will always speak of them, we will mother their children, and we will not let their good legacy die.
I think that's what I need to hear today and what I will be telling the other women of valor whom I know.
And it's what I will say to Rachel when I see her. Or what I am telling her now, which she may already know.