Monday, 23 April 2012

This Mortal Coil

Eyam tombstone 

Christopher Hitchens said that at the birth of his first child he met his funeral's coordinator for the very first time. Reflecting back on the birth of my own son, it occurs to me I have reached similar conclusions at the time but for different reasons.
I don’t know what your expectations of the modern world of medical care are, but for some reason or another I expected my newborn to go through some very thorough examinations following his birth. We should make sure everything’s alright with this newly assembled collection of fragile limbs, and if there is something wrong we should fix it quickly, shouldn’t we? Perhaps I have read too much science fiction in my time, but I sort of expected the baby to be taken to some device that would scan the atoms in his body and ensure there aren’t any stray molecules in there.
What did I get instead? I got the obligatory weighing and length measurements and that was it; no atomic scans or anything. Nothing I would define as conclusive testing. The conclusion is inevitable: from this point onwards, other than a push here and a pull there, the baby’s body owns the responsibility for the wellbeing of the person it contains. Modern medicine, with all of its grand achievements, is still firmly in the business of cutting and pasting.
Thus I was reminded once again of the fate that awaits us all at the end. Children, it seems, are the best reminder we have of our own inevitable mortality.

Image by Duncan~,Creative Commons license


Uri said...

Trying to boost your rating with another death-related post?

Moshe Reuveni said...

Not really. That lack of atomic scanning upon birth has been in the back of my head for years; Christopher Hitchens' view has been there for a couple of months. The post was a five minute job at combining the two in an attempt to convey my ongoing feelings about this unexpected result of becoming a parent without sounding too weird.