Family

December 11, 2009
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The hospital. I hate it in this place; maybe it’s because I put in too many hours in the floor above on call. It’s bad enough that this place takes me away from home during the god awful hours of the day; but what’s worse is that I come here when I’m sick. Everything’s an iridescent white, bland, sterile and predictable. The bed is awkward, lumpy, and stiff; nothing like the queen back home. The nurse comes in and changes my IV; she gives me an acknowledging look, clearly I work here. I’m exhausted and hurting, but he’s sitting in the chair staring out at the amber sunset. He’s always there, right beside me in everything. He turns and sees that I’m awake, and gracefully kneels, takes my hand and gives me the warmest smile. As his hand envelopes mine I remember each individual callous that run along his lanky fingers. He looks into my eyes once more and in a gruff but gentle voice, asks “How’s it goin’?” The only thing I can think of saying is “Is she ok?”
“She refuses to give up, just like her mom.”
He climbs into bed next to me and puts his arms around me as he starts a bedtime story. He talks for hours; tonight I refuse to go to bed. Sometimes he talks just to make sounds come out of his mouth; his voice lulls me to sleep. I love it. He tells me stories, from his childhood, when we were kids, adventure stories, about his family, ones from college, he tells me things that I never knew before; and I’ve known him for as long as I can remember. I love his mannerisms; how he looks at everything except me when he’s thinking about which direction to take the story, he’ll yawn and I know he’s nowhere near tired, and when he gets nervous he still chews his fingers. He’s still a dork at thirty-three. I’m finally crashing and he’s going to catch me. I close my eyes for a couple of seconds and he doesn’t stop his story, I open them again and I know I’m not going to hear the ending.
I wake up in a cold sweat, something is wrong; I’m trapped. I look down the hall and he’s there. My heart slows; everything is going to be alright. Walking towards me with her in his arms, I can see he’s singing to her. I smile to myself; he’s going to be the perfect dad. He floats into the room without a sound, except for his humming. He looks up at me smiling with moist eyes and tears coming down his face. I panic; he never cries-this can’t be happening; not to us. I start calling for a nurse and frantically look for the page button. He looks into his daughter’s eyes and sees her mother. She’s beautiful. He pulls up a chair next to his wife and grabs my hand.
“Stop, everything’s ok. Take her; she’s just a lil tired.”

I trust him. I take my child from my husband and cradle her against my chest. He kisses the baby on the forehead and holds my hand. I start crying, uncontrollably sobbing. He squeezes my hand tighter and whispers “I love you.” I take her in for a few moments; staring at her. She truly is gorgeous. There are no words that can describe that feeling. He starts humming his lullaby again, and she starts to fade away. For just a couple of minutes we are more than a couple with a child- we are a family. The two of us watch her, her lids close and her breath slows.
Then, she’s gone.





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