A calm Sunday morning. I wake up knowing how my day will be. There is a knot in my stomach thinking of what could have been- a day filled with a child’s laughter and screams around the house, a day of games and stories, a day of hugs and fights- definitely a day that I would trade everything in my life for. My dreams were other people’s lives.
I finish up my daily chores and look forward to the happiest and saddest part of the day. It is these 2 hours a week that drives my life and living. I grab my purse and keys and rush out the door. In my hurry, I almost forget the toys and chocolates that I’d carefully chosen over the past couple of months. After all, it is not every day that I am allowed to present the child with gifts.
I drive the 40 miles thinking of how the next couple of hours would be. Was it going to be one of those days when I drive back crying or was I going to leave the place with a smile on my face? Who am I kidding? However the day went, I would eventually cry myself to sleep. Every day of my life.
I finally reach my destination. My heart wanted to jump out of the car and go inside but I was very apprehensive and unable to move a muscle. A million thoughts went through my head. Finally I gathered my guts and entered the building. Very quaint and tranquil from outside, the building housed a lot of emotions- feelings of happiness, anger, sadness, despair, and of hope to a few people like me.
I approach the reception and the woman immediately recognizes me. She escorts me down a long corridor and up a flight of stairs.
Room 209, the door plate read. Behind that door was my life, my greatest little treasure. I turn the door knob and open. I had meticulously planned the decorations for this day. After all, birthdays occur only once a year. The room was decked with colourful balloons, streamers, bells and on one side of the wall was a gigantic painting.
And there in the middle of it was my baby, lying in a cradle, oblivious to her surroundings. To the 3 year old, the day meant nothing. Her life was as inconsequential and delicate as the balloons around her. A sharp event is all it took. I carefully picked up my baby from the cradle.
Sucking her little thumb and sleeping over my shoulder, there she was. That was the closest I would ever get to play Amma. That word. Never been uttered at me. A kiss is all I sought for at this moment. A smile is all I cared for. A hug was all I wanted. But a tear down my cheeks was all I got.
Like always, that fateful day still haunts me. My child was born prematurely. For 3 days, she was placed in an incubator. My heart skipped a beat when I could not find my child in the closed incubator section. A nurse promptly informed me that my child had been transferred to the open incubator section and had been taken off the ventilator. I was asked to meet the doctor. That must be good news, I thought.
I remember sitting across the table from the doctor and listening to his explanation of how my child was suffering from a rare disease. My child was not only special but also had a congenital heart ailment. Of course, she was special to me but not in the ways the doctor explained. My world went blank. I walked out of the room as if in a trance. I stood with my palms on the glass walls of the incubator room. The room was getting misty as my eyes welled up and tears rolled down my cheeks.
From the beginning, I knew it was not going to be easy. But I was determined to make this work, to give my child a life, even if it meant not being at her side during her primitive years. It was the doctor who suggested this place, a place that was run by an experienced retired medical couple who have nothing but joy and hope to fill the place with. There were quite some kids here with the same condition and they were slowly but steadily improving. Joy and hope is what I got at seeing this.
Soon it was 4 pm. It was time for me to leave. The day was over before I knew it, even before I could utter a word. I carefully placed her back on the cradle and tucked her in. I slowly lifted out the stuffed animal toys I had got for her and placed them right next to her. She instantly opened her eyes. In that fleeting moment I became a mother for I saw in her eyes a hint of recognition. She hugged her new toy friends and went back to her dreams.
This day was different. I knew I would be smiling and crying thinking about this day for many months to come.
As I walked out of the room, I stole one final glance at her. And then I looked up at the wall, the gigantic painting - her baby laughing while they played swing in their backyard- a perfect calm Sunday morning.