The baby’s casket

casket

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD abuts the highway down the mountain to the state capital. If you get on that highway, drive about a quarter-mile, you’ll encounter a small settlement. Turn right there and go up a block or two.

You’ll spot it on the left. That is, if it’s open at the hour you pass. It’s a small, very basic funeral parlor. Occasionally, it’s closed. I know this because I sometimes come back to the Hacienda from downtown via a back route that takes me through that small settlement that only has one major street.

When the funeral parlor is open they often put a baby’s casket in the doorway. Come here, it cries out, if your child has died, something that likely is more common in Mexico than above the Rio Bravo.

I find this small coffin’s prominent display touching, poignant and a number of like-minded adjectives. I don’t recall ever seeing such a display as this when I lived above the border, which was most of my long life. But I’ve seen it in Mexico a number of times in a number of places.

Babies should not die.

18 thoughts on “The baby’s casket”

  1. Babies should not die. In New Orleans, where so many poor live, we have a very high rate of infant deaths, only higher in DC. There’s a special fund for burials that my church supports. I hope there are like-minded organizations in your area. As far as coffins on display I lived very near a funeral parlor when I lived in Comayagua, Honduras. Parlor it was as the coffins, the TV and the living room was all in one room. I often saw a child in a play pen or a grandmother watching TV in that room. I guess the room was meant to put one at ease when choosing furniture for the hereafter.

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    1. Laurie: I’m betting that the parlor you mention was not intentionally meant to put people at ease as much as it was a family business utilizing the space available. But I could be wrong about that.

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    1. Spanishwoods: I first noticed that little coffin in the doorway months ago. I knew it would make a good photo, but I never got around to snapping it till yesterday. Usually, I have my camera with me. Thanks for the feedback, and feel free to return. You will not be moderated in the future. I looked at your website, which is exceedingly nice.

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  2. Babies shouldn’t die and parents shouldn’t conceive without the ability to care and feed, nurture, educate and love. But sadly most of those concepts are foreign while perched in the back seat of an friends borrowed car or communal bedroom while the parents are away. And the child should always be considered a gift and not a burden.
    If that was done, we may not need as many of those small caskets, SOB, NOB or elsewhere.

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    1. Tancho: I am convinced that the majority of pregnancies worldwide are accidents. And, of course, it’s the young — by nature foolish — who do it most of the time. It’s easy (and correct) that one should weigh responsibility in the middle of very heated moments, but it ain’t gonna happen. It’s a very difficult issue.

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  3. With the growth of social websites, information about all things is quite immediate and will broaden one’s view of life. The number of babies born with congenital defects and the variation of those defects is astounding to me. I just read a news report about a family who had triplet boys at twenty weeks, born alive but not viable, so they all died. Very, very emotive. Then there are babies born with physical deformities beyond imagination, pictures of which are broadcast for the world to see. Seems to me that the majority of gross deformities happen in southeast Asia. At any rate, the reality that our children were all born normal and thrive at successful lives makes me quake in my boots because those unfortunates could have been me. If a cherished child dies before its parent, it portends a sadness never to be comforted, no doubt.

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    1. Señor Gill: In my late teens and early 20s, I read virtually all of Steinbeck’s works. But I did not read this one. I just looked at it on Amazon. I see the story is about a Mexican village.

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      1. It was a screen play. The film was made in 1941. It was narrated by Burgess Meredith. They still make the same type of coffin.

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  4. I have witnessed the deaths of far too many babies in my work with the Mixteco migrant workers near Melaque. You’re are correct. “Poignant” was devised for such moments.

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  5. The death of babies is, indeed, very sad. Those of us in a position to help should, where we can. There is only so much each of us can do — but every one of us (fortunate) expats should do something. I am grandmother to a child who was abandoned, in a box, in a market in China. She was left by her mother, probably because she was born with a minor heart defect that the family did not have the means to repair. Thank God that she was found and delivered to a charity that got her the operation she needed. Where we live now, we assist with a boys’ orphanage where the state has taken the children away from families because of extreme neglect and abuse. I know, there is only so much each of us can do to alleviate suffering, but aren’t we obliged to do whatever we can?

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