Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Willingness (02/21/05)
TITLE: To Let Go
By Jamie Driggers
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After a shower and a bite of breakfast, I gathered my things to go to back the hospital. As I passed Kim’s bedroom, my eyes caught a glimpse of the profile for the family she had meticulously chosen for her baby. I hesitated for a moment, then scooped it up to take with me.
As I crossed the threshold of Kim’s room on the cheery maternity ward, she greeted me with a smile, but her eyes held uncertainty. We picked up the conversation as if I had just gone to the restroom. “What do you think is the best thing?” Kim asked.
“You know what I think. What is important now, is what you think.” I pulled out the adoptive family profile and handed it to her. “Tell me why you chose these people.”
“You were there. You know why.” She laid her hand over the binder, but looked away from it and me. Her shoulders drooped and she sighed. “They looked like they would be fun parents.”
“They have the same coloring as Jimmy and I have. I thought she might not have to answer too many questions that way.”
“So those are the only reasons?”
“Sell me on them Kim. Tell me the things about them that make them the best possible parents for your baby girl. Why are they better parents than you would be?”
“Well, there’s a dad.” After a long silence, she opened the binder and flipped through a couple of pages as if to search for anything that would qualify these strangers. “And look at this house. And the dog. See the dog?” She pointed to a Golden Retriever on the page. “I had a dog like this when I was in grade school. I loved her to death.”
I nodded. “What else?”
“She won’t have to work. He’s an engineer, seems like that’s a pretty stable job.” Kim flipped back through the pages and got more animated, “And look here.” She pointed to a photo. “Here’s the view out of their back yard, can you believe it?”
Good. She liked them again.
In the early afternoon, Kim notified the lawyer that he could bring the couple to the hospital.
When they arrived, they looked well put together and fresh, but the lady’s eyes looked tired. Her gaze flitted around the room until it settled on the bassinette beside the window. She started for it, but paused, changed course and walked over to Kim with her hand stuck out. “Hi. I’m Emily.”
Emily’s husband spoke. “Greg.”
Kim dutifully shook their hands. Greg glanced at me.
“Emily, Greg.” He beckoned between himself and his wife.
This wasn’t going to be uncomfortable or anything.
Emily’s hands twitched. “So….did everything go well?”
“It took longer than we expected,” Kim answered.
“The baby’s well?”
“Can we see her?”
Kim waved them towards the bassinette and gave me a panicked look as they turned towards her daughter. Emily scooped the baby up and began to cry. The two hovered over Kim’s daughter and left me to wonder if the rest of us should leave, so enthralled were they. I could hear them speak in hushed tones, but only fragments of sentences, “…so tiny. Look…sweet ...hands! Hello….” Kim wiped her eyes and the lawyer stared out the window. Finally Emily and Greg turned back to Kim, keeping a tight hold on their treasure. “What are you calling her?”
“Beth.” I didn’t know Kim was calling her anything.
They nodded, but didn’t comment. Kim spoke again, “What did you have in mind?”
Greg spoke. “We thought we’d name her for her lovely mother. How’s Kimberly Elizabeth suit?”
Kim visibly relaxed. “Sounds beautiful.”
Kim looked around the apartment. “It looks exactly the same.”
“It should, you’ve only been gone two days,” I said.
“But I feel so different. So empty.” She began to sniffle. ‘What will I do without her?” She collapsed onto her knees, sobbing. “Why did I let her go?”
I stooped beside her and cradled her head on my lap. “It was the best thing for her.”
“Why couldn’t I be the best thing for her?”
I left the question unanswered, and cried.
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