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I am Where I'm Supposed to Be

I Am Where I’m Supposed to Be

I’m sitting on an aging sea wharf, where so many years ago I brought my children to see the beautiful view of the Irish mountains. I find myself at the ripe old age of sixty-six, and with the upcoming marriage of my youngest daughter fast approaching, I have taken to reminiscing about the past. Over the years, many obstacles have blocked my course, but by the grace of God I have always managed to pull through. I hear the muffled sound of a foghorn and quickly see its peculiar form pass swiftly through the waters before me. The rough Irish brogue of the passing sailors drifts softly into my isolated paradise. I am where I’m supposed to be. I’m sitting on an aging wharf, and it is here that I begin to tell my story.

One of the most life-changing events that occurred in my past took place December 25th, 2016. I’m surrounded by my family, and my handsome boyfriend of seven years. We are all taking turns opening the beautifully wrapped gifts, and after what seems like an eternity it is finally my turn to open my mysterious present. “This is for you baby,” whispers my boyfriend. I gingerly take the package from his trembling hands, and with an overwhelming sense of excitement I begin to uncover the mystery. Fingers shaking, I come across a small black box. My eyes glance nervously around the room, and I find myself having to remember to breathe. I quickly cast an anxious look to my boyfriend. With anticipation I slowly open the lid of the box and peek inside. The box is devastatingly empty. Almost simultaneously I hear a collective gasp come from my surrounding family. With tears in my eyes I look up only to find my boyfriend kneeling before me, a diamond ring extended from his right hand. My breath catches in my throat. I look from the ring to his face, which I have just noticed is distorted with nerves. With a rush of emotion he quickly spits out, “Will you marry me?!” I stand awkwardly before him, shocked. But with a squeal I quickly agree and throw myself around his sturdy neck. I’m getting married! At the age of twenty-three I am set to marry the most amazing man I have ever met, and the thought of spending the rest of my life with him gives me goose bumps right then and there! I, Jennifer Saralino, am going to be married!

On October 15th, 2021, a part of me died in the NICU at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Dublin. It was then that my precious son, Everett Matthew, died within his first week of life. After a turbulent pregnancy, my stressed body went into premature labor at twenty eight weeks. Any doctor would tell you the risks involved in such an early birth. But little Everett, all two pounds, three ounces of him, was fully prepared to see the world. His underdeveloped body thought differently. After seven hours of intense labor and excruciating pain, my beloved angel silently poked his head out into our cold, cruel world. Before I could even catch a glimpse of the child I had carried in my womb he was gone, doctors and nurses racing to get him on a ventilator. Exhausted I fell asleep on the thin hospital bed, not knowing what chaos was going to greet me as soon as I awoke.

About three hours after giving birth, I was awoken by my loving husband, who told me that I needed to come with him. As I groggily looked up into the face of the man who was my rock, I saw three silent tears flow swiftly down his face. Dread overcame me like a fire engulfing a house. The walls suddenly seemed to loom in on me, the hospital corridor stretching on for miles. With my heart in the pit of my stomach I allowed nurses and doctors to direct me to my baby boy, not even four hours old and already feeling the icy chill of death. With a heavy heart I looked down on God’s wonderful little creation. He was so small. So unbelievably small. I sat by his incubator all through the night, and refused to eat when the nurses tried to convince me to take a break. He was my son, and I was not going anywhere.

The day after he was brought into this world, my little angel rose up to meet God in Heaven, leaving all of us behind to mourn his departure. But I swear, even to this day, when I looked upon his glowing face moments before the angels came to take him away, my little miracle looked up at me and smiled. It was the most perfect, beautiful little smile. I have been all over the world and never have I seen anything as breathtaking as the beauty of that gummy grin. And with that almost imperceptible smile, I knew everything would be alright.

On January 23rd, 2046, I became a grandmother. My eldest son Kaiden and his wife Melissa rushed into St. Anthony’s Hospital in Dublin, frantically searching for a nurse to get them a room. Minutes later I arrived, with my nervous husband and three other children in tow. Though all but one of my children were married, Melissa had been the first to conceive. And after nine long months, the baby was due to arrive. As I sat there in the lobby, I was brought back to twenty five years before, a time before I had all the children who accompanied me to the hospital today. I was a young mother, mourning the loss of my first born child. For a time I lost myself in the memories of a past tragedy, but with a jolt I was brought back to the present. Hovering before me, wrapped in a light blue swaddling blanket, held by the hands of his mighty father, my son, was my first grandchild. With a quick intake of breath I reach my hands out to hold this precious gift to the world. As I sit in a small waiting room in a little hospital in Dublin, I hold God’s most delicate creation. With a tide of emotion I look up at my eldest son and quietly ask him, “What’s his name?” With a look of maturity way beyond his years, my son kneels to my side, and with his hand on my shoulder, he softly says,

“Everett. His name is Everett.” In a split second rivers of tears begin to roll down my aging face. My son quickly puts his hands around me, alarmed, asking me if I’m alright. I quickly explain that my tears are not of sadness, but of joy. The joy that this small infant was my grandchild, and unlike the loss of my first born son over a quarter of a century ago, this baby was going to make it. He was going to grow up and be strong; something his uncle never got the chance to do. This baby, so delicate and serene, was a beacon of light in a darkening world. This baby was life.

I’m sitting on an aging sea wharf, and softly a foghorn sounds. I feel a caressing on my hand, and goose bumps cover my body. I slowly look down to my right hand, and see the liver-spotted hand of another holding it close. With a smile I look up into the face of my husband, who I have been madly in love with for over forty years. With a smile he glances down at me, and then looks back out across the bright blue water. Just as I am about to lay my head on his stooped shoulder, I hear a squeal come from behind me. “Nana, Nana!” screams my grandson, Everett. “Look what I found!” he shouts. As if he is the Sultan of a foreign kingdom looking over his treasures, my grandson hoists up a slimy snail for all to see. With a smile I congratulate him, and then watch as he runs back to the waters edge in search of more sandy secrets. I’m sitting on an aging wharf, and I am where I’m supposed to be.





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Mrsandyclemmensen said...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm
Wow this really was a touching story. I teared up when Everett died in the first week. This touched also my friends heart, as she read it with me. Great Work!
 
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