One of the occupational hazards of blogging is that I rarely polish my writing. I write, publish, obsess over comments, and move on.
I started this blog to develop my writing skills, but I'm neglecting the most important part of the process--revision. Thus, I will periodically revisit posts from the early days, and revise them.
Feel free to go along on the ride. I can almost promise these are new to most of you.
You can click the title to see the original work, if you are so moved.
When Joanne visited me at the hospital, two months earlier, she brought sunflowers. She placed them on the table, told me I looked skinny, and cooed over my newborn son, Joel. This is what best friends do.
She gazed at Joel, sleeping in his isolate. His chest moved up and down, a frenzy of respiration. She paused, selecting each word, "Do you think he's breathing a little quickly?"
I replied, "I think it's newborn stuff. He's just different from his brother. He's so tired. He's not interested in eating, and he seems angry at life." I swallowed, added, "I'm not sure I like him yet. Is that a terrible thing to say?"
She laughed, patted her own pregnant belly, and said, "I'm sure he'll perk up." She gazed again and his sleeping figure, set her mouth into a smile, and kissed me goodbye.
That night, it was determined that Joel was in respiratory distress. He was airlifted to the NICU at Johns Hopkins, where he spent the next eight days of his life. Paul and I loaded up the bouquet of sunflowers, the knitted blankets, and the hospital onesie removed by the nurses.
I smelled that onesie, and knew what it meant to be torn in half.
A month later, Joanne and I met up at the playground. Owen and her son played, as Joel slept in my sling.
"I knew I should have said something," she said. "I was sure something was wrong." She blinked, once, twice, and sighed deeply. "I am so sorry."
I turned to her, "It is not your fault. There were doctors. Nurses. People saw him all day long. Nobody said anything. Sometimes these things just....happen." I sniffed his soft red hair. "Besides....he's fine now. No problems at all. I even like him a lot these days."
She smiled softly, resting her hand softly on her belly. We watched our big boys play.
And now, I clutch the chrysanthemums, as I walk down the hallway of Calvert Memorial Hospital. I walk past the nursery, where they placed the C-PAP on Joel's nose and mouth. I walk past the bench where I called my mother at three AM. I smell that soap, and stand in the hallway until I no longer feel the need to cry.
Then, I walk into Joanne's room, and place the flowers on the table. I tell my friend that she looks skinny and that her son is gorgeous. Because he is. Because she is.
His breathing is normal, and all is well. No ghosts here. Not in this room. Only love. Only beginnings.
I return home, and walk into Joel's nursery. I watch his slow, deep breaths and whisper, "Thank You. Thank You. Thank You."