This happened twenty years ago, during my fellowship training in neonatology, and I will never forget her. It struck me that she was about as different a person from me as there could be in the U.S. She was black, lower class, jobless, and probably without enough food. Her days were dominated by the need to find drugs, and many would consider her one of the dregs of society. On the other hand, I was middle class, not black, had never in my life lacked for food, and was well on my way towards a respectable career.
Yet looking at her then, I realized how very similar we really were. Stripped to the core of our humanity, as we are in times of extreme emotion, she was just like me. She grieved for the death and loss of her baby just as I or a middle class mother would grieve. At that moment in time, her place in society didn't matter. She was a devastated mother, just as women in all places and from all times are when their child dies.
I sometimes wonder what happened to her. She might not be alive anymore; heroin addicts don't have a terribly long life expectancy. If she is, though, I'm guessing she still thinks of that baby every day.