–C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Her life, my womb once effortlessly sustained, is now cradled in fumbling hands.
I rest my palm on her narrow fontanelle. My heart pulses to its beat.
I peel off her onesie and dip her in a tepid bath. I wrap her hot, chilled body in a pink and yellow towel. She clings to me, peering beneath the hood of heavy, glassed eyes.
I hope she cannot feel how I shake.
She sleeps, a marionette devoid of strings.
I scour the sink lip and wipe the border of the floor. I reply to emails and sort laundry.
I check her temperature…100, 101, 102.
Last night, it reached 103.4.
I swirl fermented cider and curdled half and half down the drain.
She coughs, coos from her playpen. Her dimpled hands clutch a square of sunlight streaming through the kitchen window.
She is so trusting; I am diseased with doubt.
I tie off bags of trash and pluck lint from the gleaming hardwood floor.
My lips form prayers, too antagonistic for requests:
Don’t you take her from me.
When He is the One who gave.
Don’t you do this to me.
When He is the One who knows what I can handle.
In between lighting of candles (to cleanse the scent of illness) and the folding of her satin-edged blanket, I clutch my daughter’s life in a death grip.
Things, people, have been taken from me before. Prayers have gone unanswered.
My life, unprotected.
How can I expect the One who once turned a deaf ear to heal?
Inside, my daughter sleeps. Outside, my breath echoes her labored breath on the baby monitor, both filtered through a stuffy nose and scarlet cheeks.
The sun slips further behind the mountains; the dwindling rays illuminating the white oaks, which have been stripped to bone.
Yet beneath the dead branches, life still lurks.
Waiting to be reawakened.
And I know those who I have lost will one day be regained.
My life that was once unprotected, has been renewed.
And that in giving her back to the One who had her first, I can find my trust again.