Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: In My View
By Joanne Sher
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I haven't worked up the nerve to open my eyes yet. Not sure I want to see what I, or my surroundings, look like. I can guess, though, from all the beeps, shuffling, and other "hospital sounds" that encircle me, and the drugs I feel entering my veins. At least I know I'm not dead.
I can smell the antiseptic cleanliness of my surroundings - and one other scent. This one is more familiar. I've lain beside it practically every night for the last nine years. I turn up the corners of my mouth as best I can.
Now I can feel her too. I would know that hand resting on my arm anywhere. My wife. The light of my existence. My strength.
I ease my swollen eyes open. Shadows. Everything is dark - like the lights are out. Or bandages cover my eyes.
"Hi sweetie. How are you feeling?"
I love that voice. I could listen to it forever.
She kisses my hand. I can't help but smile.
"Hun? Could you get the nurse?"
"Sure." Worry permeates her voice. "Anything I can do?"
"Don't think so."
I hear her shuffle out, and a moment or so later, I listen to two sets of footsteps approaching.
"What do you need, Mr. Burns?" I can hear the smile on the nurse's face.
"When can you take the bandages off my eyes?"
My wife sighs. Repeatedly.
"Mr. Burns, you...um...don't have bandages on your eyes. I'm so sorry."
My heart stops. "I'm blind?"
My wife rubs my arm and shoulder, and I hear a sniffle.
The nurse's long pause quickens my heartbeat. When she does speak, it's a whisper. "The doctor said some loss could be from swelling from the surgery."
I reach my arm over the bed rail, groping toward my wife. I rest my hand on her stomach as she comes closer. As tears drop from my eyes, I rub her protruding belly as her hand rests on my wrist. I feel movement, which sends my emotions haywire.
In a few months, I'll have a new daughter. A little princess to hug, hold, hear, and love. Out of this bleak, frightening place in my life joy will come. And my girl will have a father. Thank You, Lord.
But I may never know what she looks like. I may never be able to see her walk, roll over, smile or pout. I won't know if she's sticking out her tongue or winking at me. I'll never see her wedding.
I feel her kick again, bringing me back to the present. I mumble, "But you'll still be my beautiful princess."
"What was that, sweetie?" Concern filled my wife's voice.
"Nothing, dear. Just felt the baby kick." She has enough to worry about. Don't need to burden her with anything else.
"Have you been eating, hun?" My wife often forgets when she's stressed.
"A bit. I should probably go get myself something from the cafeteria. Will you be okay?"
"I'll be fine," I say with a confidence I don't feel. I shift to squeeze her hand, which is still resting on mine. "You go ahead."
She kisses my hand. I hear her footsteps fading in the distance.
I close my eyes. I think back and try to picture a day about a week ago, when we were together at dinnertime. My wife is cutting up our son's hot dog. He is looking right at me, smiling. I freeze that image in my brain, looking at every detail of his face, trying to memorize it. I shift my focus to my beautiful wife, taking in every feature of her countenance.
I must never forget.
"I'm too tired. I don't wanna push."
"Just one more, honey. You can do it."
The pushing and groaning of the final stages of labor drown out the hospital's noises and odors. The last push is followed by the sound we've been waiting for: the wail of our baby girl.
Our newborn daughter is brought to her mother, and I am by their sides. I listen to my wife cooing at her baby. I reach out and run my hands through soft newborn hair.
Then, with the sight-though limited-that my Lord granted back to me, I view every inch of my precious daughter.
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