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双语·当呼吸化为空气 把这个好消息告诉产妇的家人

所属教程:英语漫读

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2022年06月23日

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我走到等候室,把这个好消息告诉产妇的家人。聚集在那儿的一大家子,十几口人,全都欢呼雀跃,一阵纷乱的握手和互相拥抱。我就像个伟大的先知,从山顶带回新契约的欢乐消息!生产带来的一切肮脏与混乱消失了。站在这里的我,刚刚抱过这个家庭的最新成员。她是这个男人的侄女,那个女孩的表妹。
I walked out to the waiting room to inform the extended family of the happy news. The dozen or so family members gathered there leapt up to celebrate, a riot of handshakes and hugs. I was a prophet returning from the mountaintop with news of a joyous new covenant!All the messiness of the birth disappeared; here I had just been holding the newest member of this family, this man’s niece, this girl’s cousin.

回到产房,我兴高采烈地跑到梅丽莎身边。
Returning to the ward, ebullient, I ran into Melissa.

“嘿,昨晚的双胞胎怎么样了,你知道吗?”我问。
“Hey, do you know how last night’s twins are doing?” I asked.

她的脸色瞬间黯淡下来。昨天下午A宝宝去世了,B宝宝坚持了不到二十四小时,在我接生刚才那个宝宝的时候也走了。那一刻我满脑子都是塞缪尔·贝克特的隐喻,正与这对走到生命尽头的双胞胎相合:“有一天我们诞生,有一天我们死去,同样的一天,同样的一秒钟……他们让新的生命诞生在坟墓上,光明只闪现了一刹那,跟着又是黑夜。”我现在就站在“掘墓人”的旁边,他的工具是医用的钳子。这些生命究竟有什么意义呢?
She darkened. Baby A died yesterday afternoon; Baby B managed to live not quite twenty-four hours, then passed away around the time I was delivering the new baby. In that moment, I could only think of Samuel Beckett, the metaphors that, in those twins, reached their terminal limit: “One day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second. . . Birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” I had stood next to “the grave digger” with his “forceps.” What had these lives amounted to?

“这你就接受不了了?”她说,“很多母亲明知胎死腹中,还是要经历分娩和生产。你想象得到吗?这些人至少还有过希望。”
“You think that’s bad?” she continued. “Most mothers with stillborns still have to go through labor and deliver. Can you imagine? At least these guys had a chance.”

就像火柴闪动微光,却没有燃烧起来。543号病房里,母亲在饮泣,父亲眼眶通红,泪水默默滑落:这真是和那边的欢乐形成鲜明对比;出乎意料的死亡,是那么不公平,令人无法忍受……你能去劝他们什么呢?你能说出什么安慰的话呢?
A match flickers but does not light. The mother’s wailing in room 543, the searing red rims of the father’s lower eyelids, tears silently streaking his face: this flip side of joy, the unbearable, unjust, unexpected presence of death. . . What possible sense could be made, what words were there for comfort?

“紧急剖腹产是正确的选择吗?”我问。
“Was it the right choice, to do an emergency C-section?” I asked.

“绝对是,”她说,“是他们唯一的机会。”
“No question,” she said. “It was the only shot they had.”

“如果不做,有什么后果?”
“What happens if you don’t?”

“他们会死。胎心追踪的图表显示,胎儿正遭遇酸血症。不知道是脐带出了什么问题,还是其他地方出现了很糟糕的情况。”
“Probably, they die. Abnormal fetal heart tracings show when the fetal blood is turning acidemic; the cord is compromised somehow, or something else seriously bad is happening.”

“但你怎么知道追踪图表的糟糕程度呢?出生太早或者生得太晚,哪个更糟糕?”
“But how do you know when the tracing looks bad enough? Which is worse, being born too early or waiting too long to deliver?”

“要自己判断了。”
“Judgment call.”

这个判断也太难了。我这小半辈子,最艰难的决定,也就是三明治到底要法式蘸酱还是鲁宾蘸酱。而这样的判断,我什么时候才能做,又怎么可能安心做呢?医学实践方面,我还有很多东西要学。但在生与死悬而未决之时,单凭这些知识够吗?光靠脑子聪明显然行不通,道义上也需要明确的思考。不知何故,我必须坚信,在这个过程中,我收获的不仅仅是知识,还有智慧。毕竟,一天前我刚刚迈入医院大门时,生与死还不过是抽象的概念而已。现在,我已经近距离地直面二者。也许贝克特笔下的波卓说得对,生命就是转瞬即逝,太短暂,容不得多想。但我必须集中精力去扮演好迫在眉睫的角色,一心一意投入到死亡的全过程中。我就是拿着钳子的掘墓人。
What a call to make. In my life, had I ever made a decision harder than choosing between a French dip and a Reuben? How could I ever learn to make, and live with, such judgment calls? I still had a lot of practical medicine to learn, but would knowledge alone be enough, with life and death hanging in the balance? Surely intelligence wasn’t enough; moral clarity was needed as well. Somehow, I had to believe, I would gain not only knowledge but wisdom, too. After all, when I had walked into the hospital just one day before, birth and death had been merely abstract concepts. Now I had seen them both up close. Maybe Beckett’s Pozzo is right. Maybe life is merely an “instant,” too brief to consider. But my focus would have to be on my imminent role, intimately involved with the when and how of death—the grave digger with the forceps.

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