Salome Magazine
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LAce Posted Monday, September 27th, 2004
Relinquishing Grace
Johanna M. Nesler

Except for the horizontal lines of the low winter sun persisting through the blinds, the room is shadowed in blue-grays. I'm lying in a bed, feeling flattened and solitary. I’ve been cut deeply, yet I feel nothing. A reprieve from the pain drools into my vein through a thin, clear tube. This is just a delay.

“Are you awake?” comes from the sturdy silhouette in the doorway. My nurse, Sister Margaret, in sensible shoes, a starched dress, and a wimple. She pushes a steel cart next to my bed; my newborn daughter lies sleeping in it.

“We’re not supposed to do this, but it's not right that you don't get to see her.” She places the sleeping baby in the bend of my arm, next to my heart, and flicks on the reading light. It washes us with light from above.

As she walks to the door, “I'll be back in about ten minutes; I’ll be taking her back to the nursery. Ten minutes.”

The room is still, except for the rhythm of breathing. Was it mine or the baby’s? I watch her sleep. She's dewy sweet with wavy black hair and a tangible chin. And dimples. I pull open the thick hospital blanket swaddling her. Her tiny chest rises and falls beneath the soft white undershirt, and her splotchy legs are womb-shape curved. One tiny, graceful hand wraps around my finger. She gurgles softly and looks up at me. Her dusky eyes search and I pull her closer. Can you see me now? I lift her hand and kiss her rosy knuckles. What will you do with these beautiful hands? What will you create? Who will hold them when you cross the street?

Sister Margaret’s voice shakes me. “I'm sorry, dear, but it’s time.” Her hands reach towards my baby.

From somewhere, I hear an animal’s moan rumble low and expand to a howl. My baby hears it too, and she starts to cry. Two other nurses come in. One holds her hands on my shoulders and the other injects something into the thin, clear tube.

I realize the wail is coming from me.

I let go.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Katrina Denza on Monday, October 4th, 2004 at 9:24 AM
What a heartbreaking story, Johanna! Nice job.

Posted by Sharon Hurlbut on Monday, October 11th, 2004 at 11:32 AM
This is so wrenching, I could feel a sympathetic wail rising in my own throat.

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