Where the Soul Lives
by Marti Talbott
Thirty-six years ago, when I was carrying my first child, Doctors didn’t know as much as they do today about Eclampsia, a potentially deadly condition during pregnancy. By the time my Doctor discovered it, I was in my ninth month and gaining a pound a day. If he was alarmed it wasn’t apparent and when he casually suggested we induce labor, I was thrilled. Little did I know labor would take four long days and include convulsions and a coma.
Even in the hospital eating only salt free food, I continued to gain weight and was nearly 80 pounds heavier than on my wedding day. My ankles were as thick as my upper arms and my face was abnormally puffy. Two days into the induction, my Doctor took to sleeping in the room next to mine, a simply courtesy I thought, since this was his first full pregnancy since Medical School.
The convulsions began on the forth day when my contractions finally intensified. I was young, it was my first child and I found all that shaking more annoying than frightening. Besides, as the contraction subsided, so did the convulsion. Then suddenly, everything stopped.
It was not sleep, for one is not aware during sleep. Of this place, I was completely aware, yet it was not a place of discomfort. It was neither dark nor light, cold nor warm, sad nor happy. I heard no voices, saw nothing and felt no pain. There was no stench of death, no sense of touch and I did not float above my bed. Â I did not see God, as others would have us believe, nor did a trap door open dropping me to into hell.
I might have pondered my situation, examining it more fully had I the simple ability to think, but this was truly a place of nothingness. I did not sense the passing of time, worry about my unborn child or mourn the separation from loved ones. I did not hunger or thirst, feel my Mother’s hand in mine, and although I was completely alone, I was not afraid.
I was in a place where only the soul lives.
Four hours later, I awoke to the sounds of busy nurses, noticed the colorless face of my Doctor, wondered at the tears in my Mother’s eyes and marveled at a Nun standing in a far corner mumbling prayers since I am Baptist, not Catholic.
My child was born healthy, but not before three more hours of contractions and convulsions. My unstrapped legs bounced in the stirrups, my hands jerked and my exhaustion nearly overcame me. And between pains when I begged my Doctor to make it stop, I discovered he was shaking as badly as I.
Now I have six grandchildren and every once in a while I vividly remember that place where the soul lives. I have no explanation, no great words of wisdom, nor do I know the technical term what happened. But I do know this: Even without the mind and the body, the soul lives.