A memory

In honor of a certain young lady’s sixteenth birthday.

I saw the look on the physician-assistant’s face– alarm, perhaps horror. She turned away from taking my wife’s blood pressure, muttered, “Please wait here,” and left.

She came back and said, “We’re admitting your wife to the hospital.”

They gave me a new word to learn– pre-eclampsia. My wife’s body was rejecting her pregnancy. They would have to induce labor and deliver our baby.

It was too soon, by almost seven weeks.

When my daughter was born, she was too small. She was just three pounds, eight ounces. She should have been over five pounds. She was small and red. She cried, and the sound was weak and thin.

They had me carry her up to the neonatal ICU. She barely filled my two hands together.

It was after midnight. Two-thirds of the lights in the halls were turned off. We moved through gloom into brief patches of light and back into gloom.

In the light my daughter shut her eyes tight. When we entered the gloom, she opened her eyes and looked up at me.

Now she sings arias in Italian, and tells me, “I can take care of myself, Daddy.” She thinks her old father is silly.

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