At the luncheon after the funeral, a brother of the deceased approached me and introduced himself. He was a dentist and had heard that I was a neonatologist. He told me of a son that he and his wife had 50 years ago who was born at "eight months" along. The baby had breathing problems and died at the age of one day, and the dentist wanted to know if there had been any progress made in the treatment of such babies and diseases.
I told him that yes, tremendous advances had been made, and that a baby like his if born today would likely be a relatively easy case. I told him about the advances made with mechanical ventilation of babies in the late 1960's and 1970's, and of the advent of widespread use of artificial surfactant in the early 1990's.
Although he seemed pleased to hear about the advances, he had a somewhat wistful expression on his face, and I said to him,"You never forget about your baby, do you?" He seemed relieved to have the sentiment acknowledged and started talking more about his dead baby boy. He told me that his son just couldn't seem to catch his breath, and he was reminded of it when he saw his Altzheimer's impaired sister take her last breaths. After our conversation he thanked me and we went our separate ways.
Fifty years ago a small baby lived for one day, and every single day since then his father must have thought of him. There is, I think, no stronger attachment than that of a parent for his or her child.