Twice I heard it on the radio, and stopped what I was doing to listen, each time with a peace inside that I have not known before: mothers carry cells from their babies even after the babies are born. Years after. Decades after, even, some of the babies' cells live within us still. They may function in something of the same way that stem cells function, applying their reproductive powers to replace cells killed by disease. They may rush to the place where disease has invaded to help us fight it.
It is true of all babies, not just live births. Stillborn babies' cells live on in their mothers. Miscarried babies, aborted babies. All of them, no matter how many there were: at a cellular level, they still are.
I will think of this all day today, I know. It will be like those dreams of the beloved dead, dreams in which they return. I have always known that he was with me spiritually, close to my heart. But to think that these tiny living promises of his earthly life still abide is almost more happiness than I can bear.
It is not the restoration of the child he would have been. The man he would have been. It does not turn back history. But it is the restoration of the promise he was. They are all a promise, no matter what happens later.
The scientist went on to talk about the possibility that these cells play a role in preserving and protecting the mother's health. Maybe even her life. Maybe so. But here is what I want to say to that scientist, to those tiny units of life that still live in me: You have already given me the greatest gift I could desire, one much greater than the gift of my own health and life. For this my son was dead, and is now alive. He was lost, and now is found.
Here is a link to this news story.