Posted by: Louise | April 27, 2010

Musical black hole

Once upon a longtime ago (a lifetime ago) I was pregnant. We had had our twelve week scan. All I wanted was a heartbeat. I cried tears of relief when I saw that tiny flicker on the screen. It was real. We were going to have a baby, all by ourselves, no medical intervention!

Almost instantly the sonographer opened a door into another world, a world of pregnancy worry, real pregnancy worry – as opposed to the constant anxiety that is part and parcel of even the most normal of pregnancies. “There is increased fluid in the baby’s nuchal fold.” Unfortunately I already knew too much to be naive as to what this could mean. We were told there was a 1 in 20 chance our baby had down’s syndrome. 23rd December 2008. Happy Christmas!

We tried to focus on the 95% chance that out baby was fine. But as we know now, statistics are meaningless. It is all 50:50. Either she was or she wasn’t. So there I was mid-January, trying to study for an MA and the only thing I could see when I looked at my textbooks was ‘sick baby sick baby sick baby‘. I painted a picture. I just let the paint flow, let my hand and the paintbrush wander across the page in some kind of release. And then, stuck it on the wall over my desk.

Louise painting

Astro boy wandered up for a chat one day. Talking to my back was the best the kids were getting for a while. He asked about the painting, what it was about. I answered as clearly as I could when you are talking to a five year old about something you don’t understand yourself. “It is about family and life. This pearl is the baby growing inside me.” And somewhere in the middle of it, he decided he was going to do a painting, his version of mine.

So he worked on the floor behind me and we chatted and I pretended to myself I was reading my books. He wondered about black holes and what exactly is in black holes. He theorized. He was five. His was a universe of endless fascination and possibilities. He came up with a plan. If I ever got sucked into a black hole I could bring my mobile phone and just ring to report back to him what it was like. His version of my painting was, he said, a painting of a black hole, a colourful black hole. I explained the complications involved in using mobile phones in space – the need for something to transmit sound for starters. His plan mightn’t work. He added a radio transmitter to his black hole. Problem sorted.

musical black hole i

Some conversations stay with you. Some conversations grow with you. Astro boy’s picture became his ‘Musical Black Hole’. It has become part of the story of Laura’s time in our lives. When I asked him again about his picture after Laura had died, he explained: the music is stored in the pearl and travels up to the black hole where the transmitter sends it to earth

And now it is nearly fifteen months since those pictures and we haven’t needed to travel to space to fall into a black hole. Angie, in Still Life with Circles, talks beautifully of how invisible the grieving mother becomes. I feel it. My baby is invisible, gone, dead. The cessation of her beating heart, the tininess of that moment, imperceptible even to me her mother, but increasingly awful in its finality, has opened something in our lives that has a power and a force we cannot fight. We are sucked deep down into it. I am sucked deep down into it. A dark place and yet a place full of intensity and richness. I did not know love felt like this. I have never had the love without the object of my love before. I have never felt the compassion of friends and strangers like this before. I have never felt anger like this before. Never so fragile. Never so lost. Never so strong.

But in this place I feel invisible. Lives go on. Life goes on. It is the mother with the child you see. It is the mother with the child you talk to for advice.

And so, in my invisibility, I wander, feel, explore…

Explore the edges of the black hole. Explore the depths. Explore the intensity. Are there edges? How deep does it go? What is this place?

Wander, feel, explore ……..and report back.


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