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Letters for Grace
Ring. Ring. Ring.
I swatted at my phone receiver, missed. I fumbled around until my hand felt cool plastic and roughly picked up and dropped the phone.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
I opened one eye and looked at my clock. 3:00a.m. who could be calling at this time of night? I thought. Grace. I shot up in bed and grabbed frantically for the phone.
“Baby? It’s time.” I heard that familiar voice say and a surge of happiness, excitement and apprehension went through me all at once.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can. I love you.”
“I love you too sweetie, hurry.”
I hung up the phone and scrambled to find clothes in the chaos of my room. With some semblance of decency I practically sprinted out the front door to my old beat up Honda and drove like the devil was on my heels.
I ran through the glass door into the foyer and straight up to the receptionist who was typing away at her computer.
“Maternity ward?” I asked
“Take the elevator to the third floor take a right and you’ll see it.”
I finally found what room Grace was in but by the time I got there I could barely breathe, but when I saw her, saw how beautiful she looked even a little damp with sweat she still looked like an angel. Love overcame me as I walked to her side. She was the most perfect thing in the universe, she was tiny and delicate; it was hard to think that she would be up to birthing a child. There had already been some complications in the pregnancy but we had still decided to go with a natural birth, I didn’t like the idea of someone cutting her open.
“Hey baby,” she said smiling up at me.
“Hey, how are you doing?”
“The contractions are getting closer about a minute apart, and they’re pretty bad but I’m bringing our baby into the world I couldn’t be happier.” She glowed, everything about her was dazzling. Everyone had bet against us, we were just two crazy teenagers in love there’s no way we’d make it. Now everyone knew, it was for life, we are that couple that is meant to be together forever. I picked up her hand and kissed the engagement ring I had given her three nights ago. Yes it was a little cliché the teenagers who wound up pregnant and the guy who is obligated to propose, but that’s not how it happened. I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with her the moment we met. It was about year and a half ago, in chemistry class, we were assigned to be lab partners and fell in love instantly. From that moment on things had only gotten better, we were perfect for each other in every way and when she told me she was pregnant the joy overcame the fear. We had just graduated four months ago, too young for most people to even comprehend a love as deep as ours. I looked into her eyes and her gentle face and saw a look of complete devotion that reassured my rapidly beating heart.
A contraction interrupted the moment as her eyes squinted shut and she squeezed the s*** out of my hand. It was hard to watch but I knew I had to be strong for her. The contractions got worse and almost one on top of the other as the time for my child to be born got closer and closer.
Then, something happened.
Incredible amounts of blood started soaking out from under Grace, almost gushing from her.
“What the h*ll is going on?” I yelled.
“I don’t know but we’re losing the babies heartbeat.” The news hit me like a sledgehammer.
“You do everything you can to save that baby!”
“Jake?” I don’t know how I heard her hoarse whisper through the commotion of doctors and the wild beeping of machines.
“Baby I’m right here.” I kissed her cheek.
“Jake I’m scared, I don’t want to lose our baby, we were going to have a life together, the three of us, it was going to be perfect.”
“Gracey don’t talk like that it will be perfect, we’ll get through this it’s going to be okay.”
“We’re going to have to operate.” The doctor’s voice came from somewhere behind me followed by rough hands pulling me away. They rolled her down the hall into another room, I tried to follow but they wouldn’t let me. I paced the hall for what seemed like hours, when my strength gave out I fell to my knees and prayed.
God, please keep her and the baby safe, I need your help, she’s lost a lot of blood, guide the doctor’s hands and heal her. Amen.
The doctor came out the doors and looked at me with terribly sad eyes.
Something was wrong.
“I am so sorry. We lost the baby, I cannot fathom your loss.” The feeling of utter despair tore through me. At least I still have Grace we can get through this.
“Was it a boy or a girl?” I asked holding back my emotions.
“A girl.” I nodded, we had wanted a girl.
“How’s Grace? Can I see her?”
“I’m afraid not, her condition isn’t entirely stable and I don’t want her prone to anything foreign it could cause her to get an infection or if she finds out about the baby she could have a heart attack in her weakened condition.” I ran my fingers through my hair and held back my rising frustration.
“Please doctor, I’ll do anything just let me see her.” He looked away and after several agonizing seconds he sighed.
“Alright, but let the nurse show you how to properly sanitize yourself.”
All dressed in turquoise scrubs I went into the operating room to see Grace. When I saw her a cold shock went down my spine, she was all connected to wires and needles. She was so pale, almost transparent.
“Hey baby,” my voice sounded so unsure, it scared me.
“Hey sweetie,” she whispered and paused, “the baby’s gone, isn’t she.” It was a statement not a question, somehow she knew. She read the look in my eyes and I saw the single tear escape onto her cheek. When she looked back up at me I could see her broken spirit and it shattered me. “I love you Jake, it’s going to be okay.” I don’t know why she was comforting me but I still couldn’t find the words to speak. “Her name is Faith, hold her always in your heart and never forget.” Her eyelids started fluttering and slowly they closed, I felt Grace slip from me.
Doctors scrambled around frantically like startled birds and one nurse almost shoved me out the door. I stood there in the hall as my world came crashing down with the overwhelming sound of silence and white-washed walls.
Gone, she was gone; the most important thing in my life was gone. I was no longer able to hold in the flood of emotions I fell to the floor and wept. My cries of agony filled the corridor and echoed through the building. It felt like my heart had been savagely ripped from my chest and thrown into the fiery pits of h*ll. I cursed God and his cruelty.
“Why?!” I cried. “Why me? Why her?” I wept until a nurse gently picked me up and guided me to a more private room where I shed my anguish into the dawn.
2 years later…
I walked into the coffee shop and ordered the usual, tall vanilla latte. I sighed as I got back into my squad car and rubbed my eyes, another day, same old thing, I thought.
The day went as usual, a few speeders, one guy who ran a red light, probably the most exciting thing that’s happened to me all week. God, I wish you were here. I lost my inspiration when she died, I was going to be a writer. I had become a cop because it was easy, no thought required. Now it seemed that the only thing I could write were tickets, I had tried so many times to write something meaningful but the only thing that came out were letters. Letters that could never be sent, letters for Grace. The night before had been one of the hardest, just thinking about how our life would be together now tore me apart even after all this time. It was the second anniversary of their deaths in a few days, I had managed to get through the first anniversary but every day seemed to make my heart heavier with grief, to help cope I had written to her.
I miss you more every day sweetheart, I hate living without you. I’ve lost my inspiration, I wish you were here, that things had worked out; our daughter would be turning two in a few days. I can just see her, she would have your curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes. I see her running through the sprinklers while you made your famous homemade sweet tea just like your mom did when you were a kid. I love you more than anything darling. I’ll see you sooner than you think.
I rubbed my eyes, I hadn’t slept well in a while, it was hard to sit here and not fall asleep. Dreaming was better anyway, in my dreams I could be with her, with our daughter. But I had to keep going, she would have wanted me to be strong.
Today is the second anniversary of their deaths and my baby girl’s birthday. I had called in sick to work and was laying on my floor drinking myself into a coma. I had out the scrapbook Grace had started; it was covered with ducks, lace and baby sheep with pink ribbons around their necks. It was supposed to be for our child’s early years. The first couple pictures were of her pregnant, then there were the ultrasounds. I could just make out little Faith’s body all curled up in the black and white fuzz. She looked so perfect it made my heart ache. It was so unfair that she never got a shot at life. I just wanted to be with them again, the way it should be.
Then the bitterness came back. Maybe I could kill myself if I drank enough, took a couple pills. I laughed. Then it hit me, maybe I could, I could be with them again. I got up and stumbled to the bathroom where I washed down any and all pills in sight with my bottle of whiskey. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw an unshaven and unkempt man with nothing left to live for. My reflection started to blur and my heart pounded. When I went down I went down hard. I smacked my head against the bathroom wall and thumped against the floor. Lights exploded in my vision and adrenaline coursed through my body, my bathroom started to fade and I saw the purest of lights, a soft glow and yet it hurt my eyes, then through my squinting I saw a woman holding hands with a small child. They stepped toward me and a little girl, her face framed in golden curls, gently laid a kiss on my cheek that I didn’t feel. Somehow I knew it was my baby girl but before I could speak or get a close look at her she was gone and everything faded into oblivion.
I woke up to a blinding white light. Everything around me was bright, was I in heaven? I frantically looked around for Grace. A gentle push laid me back into what I now saw as a hospital bed. My head hurt and I closed my eyes again. When everything stopped spinning slowly opened my eyes and saw the most beautiful woman, dark hair, eyes like warm honey. She was so gentle but strong, you could tell by looking at her that she had grown up working outside. Instead of feeling guilty like I normally would have, I just felt warm. Gracey was here, I could feel her. She wanted me to be happy. I smiled, I finally got it, I wasn’t supposed to live my life like this, always missing her, it was time to move on.
“What happened?” I asked.
“You overdosed on several different meds and combined with the alcohol it almost killed you at least that’s what the doctors said. I heard you fall, I’m your neighbor the thump was pretty audible into my room.” She laughed, it was glorious, she had the most beautiful voice like she was singing. “I came and knocked on your door and when you didn’t answer I called 9-1-1 and then they pretty much turned your door into kindling and brought you here.” She smiled again, but this time it was sad, “What made you do it anyway?” I hesitated, somehow she knew I was unsure, “It’s ok I guess that’s a pretty heavy subject for just meeting someone.” She smiled.
“it’s alright you did save my life you deserve to at least know why.” I sighed, “I thought I had lost everything, my reason to live. Now I think I understand though, it’s time for a second chance, a new life.” I smiled at her, “Now the way I see it I’m in your debt, the least I can do is buy you dinner if that would be okay.”
“You’re already asking me out and you haven’t even asked me my name,” she laughed as I blushed, “It’s Lorraine by the way and dinner sounds nice, hey a date with a guy who almost killed himself might be, well, interesting, anyway I like a challenge.” I just smiled and knew that it was time to start again, to live a new life and let go of the guilt and the pain.
I felt her approval, it was warm and comforting, Grace would never be far from my heart and neither would Faith.
Everything is better now. I still miss you but life seems to be moving again. Lorraine is wonderful, thank you for sending her to me, I know you had something to do with it, she has your spirit. It’s been a year since I met her and I think I’m going to propose. I know God is watching and whatever life brings I’ll get through it. This will be the last letter I write to you but you’ll always be with me in spirit. I will see you soon my love, all in good time.