Leaning against the pale yellow wall, I gaze at the pattern of gray and yellow tiles on the floor. I hum along with the music from my I-pod until a female voice interrupts me. I look up to see a young woman, dressed in scrubs that match her green eyes. Her blonde hair is tightly pulled back in a ponytail.
Though I heard her voice, I have no idea what she said. “Excuse me?” I ask.
She answers with a polite smile, “If you want to go in, her husband said you can, but remember, five minutes, max.”
I respond by nodding my head affirmatively. She points to the double doors then gives me further instructions.
“This is surreal,” I mutter to myself. “Her husband is giving me permission to see her.”
As my feet walk down the hallway, my mind walks down memory lane. I remember waiting all those months, not knowing if it would be a baby boy or girl, but excited nonetheless. I chuckle as I recall the pandemonium of that middle of the night rush to the hospital. I can still hear the words, “It’s a girl!”
My mind’s eyes scan the piles of pink, my mind’s hands feel the soft cuddly fabrics, my mind’s ears hear her newborn cry, my mind’s nose smell the baby lotion and baby powder, my mind’s arms feel her fragile little body. I recollect whispering in her ear, “I will always love and protect you.” At that moment I had no idea what the future held for her and how powerless I would be.
Briefly I come back to the present. “And now I need her husband’s permission to see her?” I grunt under my breath.
My mind drifts back to the past but my anger is very much in the present. I was the one giving her a bottle in the middle of the night. I rocked her carriage back and forth across the floor when she couldn’t fall asleep. I folded load after load of her diapers. I held her hands as she took her first steps. I attended her kindergarten graduation and her teacher’s conferences. I helped her put on her Brownie uniform, Christmas pageant costumes, graduation robe, and wedding gown.
Through the years I was there for her when her husband didn’t even know she existed. Yet now hospital policy and HIPPA laws give her husband the power to decide if I can see her and for how long.
My anger suddenly subsides as I look up and see the I.C.U. sign. Tears begin to flow down my cheeks as my heart races, my knees feel weak, and my hands tremble.
“Are you alright?” The voice sounds close but the man speaking looks so far away. “Maybe you should sit down and have some water before you go in.”
“No,” I manage to whisper. “There’s not much time.”
“I know. Do you want me to walk you in?” he asks.
“I don’t see how that will help. It’s not the walking that concerns me, it’s the talking. How can I go in there knowing I’ll never see her alive again? I’ve only got a few minutes to say goodbye, but how am I supposed to do that? What can I say?”
“Are you a woman of faith?”
“Yes, I am. So is she.”
“Then take a minute and pray. Ask God to give you the words to speak and the strength to deliver them.” The man puts his arm around my shoulders and then continues. “And while you’re in there, know that I’ll be out here praying for you both.” I look into his eyes and feel at peace. I don’t know who he is but believe he is God-sent for this God-ordained moment.
As I walk toward her bed I am greeted by a barrage of medical equipment.
“It’s a lot of stuff, I know,” she struggles to say in-between breathes. She is smiling.
Suddenly I realize I’m not just here to say goodbye, to talk about machines, beeps, or tubes. This will be the most important conversation we ever have. I need her to know how much I love her and always will. I need her to know…
Before I can speak, she does, “I’ve been praying about what to say to you, and keep coming back to one thing, thank you for loving me and always being there. Nothing else matters.”
I nod in agreement, reach for her hand, and sob.
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