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Daily Archives: April 8, 2010

The water poured from the faucet onto his face. Eyes closed, he let it melt away the tension he carried in his body. It’d been a long, hard day, which had transferred into a long, hard night. He’d only gotten home at about one in the morning. His wife lay asleep already, and in an effort to not wake her, he moved his pajamas to the bathroom so he could change in there after his shower. The scenes that had taken place today flashed across the closer lids of his eyes, as movies scene flash across the projection screen at the old drive in. A small baby, a boy, no older than a month. The operation he’d performed to get rid of the child’s hernia. The mother, desperate with grief, and longing for any word of the child’s wellbeing. Had the child died on his operating table, it would not have been the first death. It would also not have been the first child this mother had lost. The doctor was unsure as to which circumstance made it more tragic. The child lived however. As did the mother’s last words to him as he’d taken the baby into the O.R. “Don’t kill my baby, please, don’t kill my baby…”

He climbed into bed, careful not to wake his wife sleeping beside him. “Tough night, darling?” She was awake. “Yes, dear. Go back to sleep. I love you.” He’d always felt bad for the life his profession had caused him to lead. His children’s birthday parties were events he rarely made an appearance at, a habit that eventually resulted in his fie year old son saying, “if you didn’t want to come Dad, you should’ve just said.” A moment that both marred and moulded his intent to never be one of those absent fathers. So he worked extra hard and extra long during the week to ensure he could devote his weekends to his children. His wife and he had gotten married young, whilst they were both still studying, and as a result she’d had to suffer with him through the long days, and nights. When the children were born, afraid not to cost him the little sleep he afforded himself, she’d spend night after night with them, ready at their beck and call so that they would not wake him.

He looked over to his bedside table clock in the stillness of the early morning. It was now just past two in the morning. He shut his eyes. What a day.

The woman walked into his rooms, clutching her baby to her chest. She had the look about her of a pigeon, constantly moving her head in different directions as if hoping to pre-empt where any trouble may be lurking and thus prevent it. She was early forties, but only showed her age around her eyes. Around her eyes lay the lines, etched by the wear and tear of time. Around her eyes, lay the map of the sorrows this woman had gone through. It was as if each time her heart had been broken, the lines on her face mimicked the cracks in her heart. “My child is ill, doctor,” was all she’d said. He’d pried the child away from her and examined him. “A hernia,” he’d concluded. She looked at him as if he’d declared the child dead on the table. “It’s operable. We’ll keep the child overnight for observation, and operate early tomorrow morning. You’ll be able to take him home the day after, with some medicines that you can collect at the Pharmacy.” Still looking somewhat bewildered, the woman scooped up her baby and looked at him, as if ensuring he was still the child she’d put down ten minutes before. Thanking him, she left his rooms headed for the wards. For some reason, he could not shake the image of her face etched in its heartbroken lines from him mind for the remainder of the day.

“Your child’s post-op check up is fine. He’s running a bit of a temperature, but that’s normal for a child his age and size, after any operation. I’ll ask the nurses to make sure they give you the medicines you’ll require. Follow any and all instructions very carefully. I hope all goes well for you, Mrs. Van Zyl.”

“Miss. Van Zyl, doctor. My husband widowed me about three months back.” This poor woman, he thought to himself. This child must have felt like the last remaining piece on earth, of a husband whom she’d lost three months ago. No wonder she was so protective over him. “I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Van Zyl. Excuse me.” As he walked away, a sense of relief washed over him. To have been instrumental in this child’s recovery was one thing. To have been able to provide this woman with some form of salvation in the midst of all the mourning, was something else entirely.

The short, sharp screeches of the telephone burst into the early hours of the morning. Waking with a start, he felt as if he’d only just fallen asleep a second ago. He checked the clock beside his bed. Five in the morning. And so it begins, he thought. Grimacing at the effort it took to hoist his exhausted body up and out of bed, he finally reached out and answered the phone. “Hello…” he muffled through the crisp Winter morning and into the receiver. “Doctor, doctor! My baby! My baby is dead! Docter, you killed my child.”

Before dressing quickly, he’d called for the hospital’s paramedics to meet him at the woman’s house. Unable to explain to his wife, he’d told her he’d be home as soon as he could. Now driving in the car, he seemed to be stuck at every red robot along the way. He glanced up into the rearview mirror. He looked like death warmed up, pale and strikingly tired. He looked back down to the road ahead. He couldn’t get there quickly enough.

It had taken a sedative to calm the woman down, but still she would not release the body of the dead child. Rocking slowly back and forth on her knees, with the child held tightly to her chest, she was muttering to herself, under her breath, words that no one else could hear. When he’d arrived, she’d barely noticed his entrance into the room. “Miss Van Zyl? Miss Van Zyl, I’m going to need to ask you to hand me your child.” She didn’t even respond to his request. Uneager to inspire another hysterical outburst in the woman, he went over to talk to the paramedics. They’d not been able to do anything, other than administer the sedative. They’d gone into the child’s room and found all the medicines that the hospital had given her when she’d taken the child home. An empty syringe lay beside them, probably the syringe that’d been used to administer one of the medicines. “Do you have any idea how the child died?” “Well doctor, we’re unable to say for sure, but we’re sensing a bit of foul play. I think, sir, that this woman gave her child 10cc’s, instead on half a cc when she put the child to sleep last night.” I looked over to the woman, crying and muttering silently to herself, clutching her dead baby to her chest, as if willing it to become part of her and share her own heart beat, her own breath, her own blood.

What a day…

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“And I want to play hide-and-seek and give you my clothes and tell you I like your shoes and sit on the steps while you take a bath and massage your neck and kiss your feet and hold your hand and go for a meal and not mind when you eat my food and meet you at Rudy’s and talk about the day and type your letters and carry your boxes and laugh at your paranoia and give you tapes you don’t listen to and watch great films and watch terrible films and complain about the radio and take pictures of you when you’re sleeping and get up to fetch you coffee and bagels and Danish and go to Florent and drink coffee at midnight and have you steal my cigarettes and never be able to find a match and tell you about the the programme I saw the night before and take you to the eye hospital and not laugh at your jokes and want you in the morning but let you sleep for a while and kiss your back and stroke your skin and tell you how much I love your hair your eyes your lips your neck your breasts your arse your
and sit on the steps smoking till your neighbour comes home and sit on the steps smoking till you come home and worry when you’re late and be amazed when you’re early and give you sunflowers and go to your party and dance till I’m black and be sorry when I’m wrong and happy when you forgive me and look at your photos and wish I’d known you forever and hear your voice in my ear and feel your skin on my skin and get scared when you’re angry and your eye has gone red and the other eye blue and your hair to the left and your face oriental and tell you you’re gorgeous and hug you when you’re anxious and hold you when you hurt and want you when I smell you and offend you when I touch you and whimper when I’m next to you and whimper when I’m not and dribble on your breast and smother you in the night and get cold when you take the blanket and hot when you don’t and melt when you smile and dissolve when you laugh and not understand why you think I’m rejecting you when I’m not rejecting you and wonder how you could think I’d ever reject you and wonder who you are but accept you anyway and tell you about the tree angel enchanted forest boy who flew across the ocean because he loved you and write poems for you and wonder why you don’t believe me and have a feeling so deep I can’t find words for it and want to buy you a kitten I’d get jealous of because it would get more attention than me and keep you in bed when you have to go and cry like a baby when you finally do and get rid of the roaches and buy you presents you don’t want and take them away again and ask you to marry me and you say no again but keep on asking because though you think I don’t mean it I do always have from the first time I asked you and wander the city thinking it’s empty without you and want want you want and think I’m losing myself but know I’m safe with you and tell you the worst of me and try to give you the best of me because you don’t deserve any less and answer your questions when I’d rather not and tell you the truth when I really don’t want to and try to be honest because I know you prefer it and think it’s all over but hang on in for just ten more minutes before you throw me out of your life and forget who I am and try to get closer to you because it’s a beautiful learning to know you and well worth the effort and speak German to you badly and Hebrew to you worse and make love with you at three in the morning and somehow somehow somehow communicate some of the overwhelming undying overpowering unconditional all-encompassing heart-enriching mind-expanding on-going never-ending love I have for you.”