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我的幽灵宝宝

更新时间:2016-10-25 10:31:55 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Children Don’t Always Live
我的幽灵宝宝

My daughter, Greta, was 2 years old when she died — or rather, when she was killed. A piece of masonry fell eight stories from an improperly maintained building and struck her in the head while she sat on a bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her grandmother. No single agent set it on its path: It wasn’t knocked off scaffolding by the poorly placed heel of a construction worker, or fumbled from careless hands. Negligence, coupled with a series of bureaucratic failures, led it to simply sigh loose, a piece of impersonal calamity sent to rearrange the structure and meaning of our universe.

我女儿格蕾塔(Greta)去世或者说遇难时只有两岁。她和祖母一起坐在曼哈顿上西区的一条长凳上,一块砖石从一栋维护不当的建筑物的八楼掉落,砸中了她的头部。没有任何一方独力导致了此事的发生:不是因为建筑工人的脚跟放错了地方而被踢下了脚手架,也不是从某人手中滑落的。疏忽大意再加上一系列行政管理失误,很简单地导致它出现松动,制造了一场并不针对特定人等的灾难,也改变了我们的世界既有的结构和意义。

She was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent emergency brain surgery, but she never regained consciousness. She was declared brain-dead, and my wife and I donated her organs. She was our only child.

她被匆忙送往医院,接受了紧急脑部手术,但再也没能恢复意识。她被宣布脑死亡后,我和妻子把她的器官捐了出去。她当时是我们唯一一个孩子。

The incident was freakish enough to be newsworthy. Requests for interviews flooded our email while we still were at our daughter’s bedside; television trucks trawled Manhattan looking for us. When we left the hospital, I caught my daughter waving at me from the corner of my eye. A picture of her from my wife’s Facebook page was on the cover of The Daily News.

这场意外十分诡异,因此极具新闻价值。当我们还守在女儿病床边的时候,就有无数采访请求涌入了我们的邮箱;电视台的转播车为了寻找我们而在曼哈顿往来穿梭。我们离开医院之际,我从眼角瞥见女儿在向我挥手。那是她的一张出自我妻子Facebook页面的照片,登上了《每日新闻》(The Daily News)的头版。

Over the next year, we became another local story about the quiddities of fate, the heartless absurdity of life in the big city. “Oh, you’re that couple,” a father said gravely when we introduced ourselves at a support group for bereaved parents. The attention was both bewildering and gratifying. We met couples whose children had died at home, in private, with only their shattered family to help them cope. There was succor to be drawn from all this awe and care, and I found myself leaning into it as often as I pushed it away.

接下来的一年,这座大城市又多了一个展现命运反复无常和生活荒诞无情的故事。“噢,你们就是那对夫妇,”当我们在一个为失去子女的父母设立的互助组织里做自我介绍时,一位父亲神情肃穆地说道。这种关注既令人应接不暇又令人宽慰。我们遇到过一些子女死于家中或私人场合的夫妇,他们在应对困境时只有破碎的家庭可以依靠。所有这些惊叹和关心会对事情有所帮助。我发现自己既时常沉溺于这种帮助,又不时感到抗拒。

Seven weeks ago, our second child was born; a son, Greta’s younger brother. They would have been exactly three and a half years apart. With his birth, I have become a father to a living child and a spirit — one child on this side of the curtain, and another whispering from beneath it. The confusion is constant, and in my moments of strength I succumb to it. I had a child die, and I chose to become a father again. There can be no greater definition of stupidity or bravery; insanity or clarity; hubris or grace.

七周前,我们的第二个孩子出生了;一个男孩,格蕾塔的小弟弟。他们俩的年龄本应正好相差三岁半。他出生后,我成了一个活生生的宝宝和一个幽灵宝宝的父亲——一个宝宝在窗帘这边,另一个在窗帘下喃喃低语。这种错乱之感时常出现,即便是在较为坚强的时刻也挥之不去。我的一个孩子去世了,我选择再次成为父亲。没有什么能比这更好地展现愚蠢或者勇敢,疯狂或者澄明,傲慢或者慈悲。

Lying on the floor, talking to my son in soothing tones and jingling bright, interesting-looking things in front of his eyes, as I did with his sister, I yearn for him to feel his sister’s touch. Then I remember with a start: We were never going to have him. We always said Greta was enough — why have another kid? I gaze in awe. He wouldn’t exist if his sister had not died. I have two children. Where is the other one?

我趴在地板上,轻声细语地和儿子说话,在他眼前晃动闪亮有趣的各种东西,就像我跟他姐姐在一起时一样。我多么希望他能感受到自己姐姐的触摸。随即我猛然意识到:我们当初从未打算生他。我们总是说,有格蕾塔就够了——何必再要一个孩子?我感到惊叹,用目光打量着他。如果他姐姐没有去世,他就不可能降生。我有两个孩子,另一个在哪里?

Becoming a parent is already a terrifying process. After a child’s violent death, the calculations are murkier. What does my trauma mean for this happy, uncomplicated being in my care? Will it affect the choices I make on his behalf? Am I going to give a smaller, more fearful world to him than I gave to Greta? Is he doomed to live under the shadow of what happened to his sister?

成为父母的过程本就相当可怕。在一个孩子横死之后,内心的盘算会变得更加阴晦。我的精神创伤对我照顾的这个快乐、简单的小家伙来说意味着什么?它会影响我代表他做出的选择吗?我会不会让他的生活空间比格蕾塔更小,更加充满不安?他是否注定要生活在姐姐的不幸经历的阴影下。

After Greta was born, my wife, Stacy, and I had a habit of checking to make sure she was still breathing. During that time, we ran into a fellow parent, a mother of two children, and Stacy made a nervous joke about it. The woman smiled. “They’re always breathing,” she said.

格蕾塔出生后,我和妻子斯泰茜(Stacy)时不时就会查看一下,以确定她仍在呼吸。那期间,我们遇见了一位家长,一位有两个孩子的母亲,斯泰茜就此说了个并不轻松的笑话。那个女人微微一笑。“他们一直都在呼吸,”她说。

I imagine it’s the same for all parents. You begin to adjust to the reality of your child’s continuing existence. Their future begins to take shape in your mind. They’re always breathing, you tell yourself.

我想所有父母都是如此。你开始适应自己的孩子会继续存在下去的现实,开始在脑海中勾勒他们的未来。你告诉自己,他们一直都在呼吸。

Life remains precarious, full of illnesses that swoop in and level the whole family like a field of salted crops; there are beds to tumble from, chairs to run into, chemicals and small chokeable toys to mind. But you do not see death at every corner, merely challenges. The part of you that used to keep calculating the odds of your child’s existence has mostly fallen dormant. It is no longer useful to you; it was never useful to the child; and there is so much in front of you to do.

生活仍旧危机四伏,种种疾病都可能趁虚而入,导致全家人躺上床,就好像受了灾的庄稼地;孩子还有可能从床上滚下去,被椅子绊倒,化学品以及容易噎到孩子的小玩具也需要留意。但你不会在每一个角落看到死亡,这些都不过是挑战而已。那个不停计算自家宝宝生存概率的你基本已经处于休眠状态;这样做对你已不再有意义,而这样做对宝宝来说从来就毫无益处;眼前有一大堆事情等着你去做呢。

At 2, your child is a person — she has opinions and fixed beliefs, preferences and tendencies, a group of friends and favorite foods.

长到两岁大,你的孩子就能称其为人了——她有自己的观点以及固定的信念、偏好和倾向,有一群朋友以及爱吃的食物。

What happens when that child is swiftly killed by a runaway piece of everyday environment, at the exact moment you had given up thinking that something could take all of this away from you?

恰恰就在你不再担心有什么东西会让你失去所有这一切之际,日常环境中失控的一部分迅速夺走了孩子的生命,这又让人如何应对?

When I am on the playground years from now, watching my son take a fall from the monkey bars, I might not panic. But some part of me will remember: A heartbeat can stop. Hearing a heartbeat for the first time during the ultrasound, and then watching doctors shine light on unresponsive pupils two years later, you stop thinking of a heartbeat as a constant, and more as a favorable weather condition. Now I am a reminder of the most unwelcome message in human history. Children — yours, mine — they don’t necessarily live.

再过几年,假如我在操场上看到儿子从单杠上跌下来的时候,或许不会惊恐万分。但我会隐隐约约地意识到:心跳是有可能停止的。通过超声波首次听到心跳,然后在两年后看着医生用手电筒照射没有反应的瞳孔,你就再也不会认为有心跳是理所当然的事情了,而是会更多地视之为一种好天气。现在,我的经历正在传递人类历史上最不受欢迎的信息。孩子们——不论是你的还是我的——他们并不一定能活下去。

When I realized Greta would not live, I wanted to die so purely, and so simply. I could feel my heart gazing up at me quizzically, asking me in between beats: “Are you sure you want me to keep doing this?” But I found I could not give the order.

当我意识到格蕾塔无法活下去以后,脑子里的唯一一个念头就是随她而去。我可以感觉到自己的心脏在跳动之际疑惑地盯着我,问道:你确定还想让我继续这样做吗?但我发现自己无法下达命令。

Since my son was born, I’ve caught myself making concrete plans for my suicide if he were to die. I will draft a letter to my parents, or even tell them face-to-face. “I’m going to meet my children,” I will say. If the world takes this one, I am not meant to be here. It is a frightening thought because it is so logical. How would anyone argue me out of it? Who would even try?

自从儿子出生以来,我一直在为如果他死掉我就自杀这个想法做具体的规划。我会给父母写一封信,甚至当面告诉他们。“我要去跟我的孩子们相聚了,”我会这样说。如果老天把这个孩子也带走,那我也不想活在这个世界上了。这种想法很可怕,因为它是如此地合乎逻辑。其他人如何才能劝我放弃这种想法?甚至,有人会想要尝试这样做吗?

I do not believe anything bad will happen to him in his infancy. It makes a sort of sense: Nothing bad happened to Greta as an infant. I do not wake up in the middle of the night to check on him. I do not even flinch when I hand him to others and watch them grapple awkwardly with his floppy neck.

我觉得处于婴儿期的他不会遭遇任何不测。这在某种程度上是说得通的:格蕾塔还是个婴儿的时候,就没有遭遇过任何不测。我不会半夜醒来去查看他的状况。我甚至在把他递给其他人,看着他们笨拙地托着他那柔软的脖颈时也没有畏缩。

However, some part of me is grimly certain he will die at 2. The evidence is all on my side: 100 percent of my children have suffered this fate. Even as I carry my baby into the world — this crowded, clamorous, septic world — I am holding a breath that I will not release until he turns precisely one day older than Greta.

不过,隐隐约约之间,我心中一直有一个可怕的想法:他会在2岁时死掉。证据确凿无疑:我此前所有的孩子都遭受了这种命运。即便是在带宝宝来到这个拥挤、喧嚣、充斥着病菌的世界上的时候,我也一直提心吊胆——等他长到恰恰比格蕾塔大一天的时候,我这颗心才能放下。

During my son’s birth, I leaned into the crook of my wife’s neck while she pushed, just as I did when Greta was born. I closed my eyes and smelled the gauze from her deathbed. My boy came out sickly white, with the umbilical cord knotted around his neck, and he was silent for an eternal second before his gurgling cry bubbled through his lungs and my wife clutched him and wept. “This is a miracle baby, I hope you understand that,” said our midwife. She was the same woman who had caught Greta and handed her to her mother; Greta had promptly let loose a tarry slick of meconium all over Stacy’s belly and wailed, her feet swiping feebly in it like a bird in an oil spill.

儿子出生时,我在妻子用力之际把头靠在她的颈窝里,就像她生格蕾塔时一样。我闭着眼睛,闻到了格蕾塔临终前所包扎的纱布的气息。儿子来到这个世界上的时候,有一种病态的苍白,脖子上缠绕着脐带,他沉默了一秒钟——那一秒钟仿佛永无止尽——然后才哇哇哇地大声哭泣起来,我妻子把他揽在怀里,也哭了出来。“这是一个奇迹宝宝,我希望你们明白这一点,”我们的助产士说。这个女人也曾为格蕾塔接生,并将她送到她妈妈手中。格蕾塔当初很快就把一坨柏油般的胎粪拉在了斯泰茜的肚子上,并大哭大闹,她的双脚有气无力地在胎粪里蹬来蹬去,仿佛一只小鸟被困在泄漏的石油里。

Children, hospitals, blood: It’s all a confused swirl of joy and agony. Somewhere in my subconscious, my daughter is on a scale, her birth weight being calculated; in the same moment, she is blue and cold and being carted away. All I am is a spectator: Her body is not mine to protect, not mine to save.

孩子,医院,鲜血:所有这一切构成了一个令人迷茫的漩涡,里面有喜悦也有痛楚。在我潜意识里的某个地方,我女儿被放在称重器上,测量出生时的体重;与此同时,她又是青紫色的、冰冷冷的,正被人推走。而我只是一个旁观者:无法保护她,无法拯救她。

My wife and I are young still. With our son’s birth, we have committed to another round here on earth. My son will always have a dead sister; when I am 50, my heart will ache in this exact same way it does today. Children remain dead in ways adults do not, and on bad mornings, in the wrong light, everything from here on out feels like ashes.

我和妻子依然年轻。儿子出生后,我们介入了世界上的又一场轮回。我儿子永远都会有一个死去的姐姐;等到我50岁的时候,我的心还会像今天一样疼。与成人的死亡不同,孩子们的死亡会以某些方式让人一直难以释怀;在糟糕的清晨,在光线不好的地方,突然之间会感觉所有的一切都像是灰烬。

Thankfully, I see it that way only in the margins. A breezy day, a good drink, my wife laughing, holding my son’s head to my chest — these things help dispel it. I look at my boy, a beautiful already-fattening baby, and this world, the one that senselessly killed my daughter, is benevolent once more.

值得庆幸的是,我只在不多的时候才会作此感想。轻松的一天,一次畅饮,妻子的笑声,把儿子的头揽在胸口——这些东西会帮忙驱散愁绪。我注视着儿子,一个不断长肉的美丽宝宝;注视着这个世界,一个无情地夺走我的女儿,但重新变得仁慈起来的地方。

I talk to him about his sister, whom I think he met before arriving. “Your daddy will always be sad your sister’s not here,” I tell him. “But you fill Daddy’s heart up with joy and he loves you more than everything.” I also want to say, but do not: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’ll never be the same father I was before. I’m sorry that you will live with me, to some degree, in grief.

我跟他谈论他的姐姐,我觉得他在降生之前一定遇到过她。“你爸爸会因为你姐姐不在了而永远感到悲伤,”我告诉他。“但你让爸爸心里重新充满了喜悦,他爱你胜过一切。”我还想说,但并未说出口的是:我很抱歉。我很抱歉我永远也不会是以前的那个父亲了。我很抱歉你在某种程度上得和我一起生活在悲伤里。

But life is good: Greta loved it. She found every second of it delightful, and at its best when appreciated with others. I think of her hand touching my cheek and I muster up every drop of bravery I can: “It is a beautiful world,” I tell him, willing myself to believe it. We are here to share it.

但生活是美好的:格蕾塔热爱它。她觉得生活中的每一秒都充满欢愉,在和其他人一起欣赏时尤为如此。想起她用小手触摸我脸颊的时刻,我鼓起了全部的勇气:“这是一个美好的世界,”我告诉他,同时努力让自己相信这句话。让我们一同领略生活的美好。

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