Chapter VII: Somewhere in The Corner
I couldn’t watch him come back to life. I stared up, hoping to see Mother Mary; I wanted her to tell me the meth and the misery were gone forever. I wanted her to tell me to stop thinking about suicide, to stop worrying about his lost soul. I wanted her to tell me it was over.
He choked and pulled at the bedsheets as the nurses shuffled around with stained plastic tubes. The room was heavy with life and chaos, and I thought about the day our son was born; and how he had almost died – hanging out of my insides like a fresh carcass, stripped of oxygen and hope.
“Do not stop to breathe on this push – you just PUSH,” the doctor had demanded. Somewhere between the smell of torn flesh and hospital sheets, Derek had turned around – walked away from the purple crown and the breathless mother painting a tiny blue casket over the past nine months.
“PUSH!” the doctor belted. The bed grew higher with each order and the nurses shoved and pressed my belly with grunts and steady strain. My hips were sturdy and the baby’s shoulders jammed on my insides.
The doctor grabbed and tugged with latex gloves as blood and leftover flesh dripped into the bucket at her feet. The blue cord stretched thin at the mortal precipice, offering a reminder that existence is fragile, even before it’s been given a name. I moaned at the barrel of muscle pushing against the tiny shoulders. I bore down with all of my grief of a baby who never grew a heartbeat; I bore down with all of my life; and I bore down with screams and tears – with the last sounds my body could possibly give to a lifeless baby. Maybe I could push so hard that a transition of soul would commence. Maybe I could push so hard that our baby would not die, again.
I looked for him, in the room filled with bloody gowns and hurried nurses. I sifted through the pain for his silhouette I’d seen each night for eight years. I needed him to tell me the baby was okay. I needed him to tell me it wasn’t my fault.
With a final push, I spun into black, drifted into a reality between nothing and something, and wandered back to life with the sound of his gentle voice.
“Why is the baby not crying,” I mumbled, reaching for his hand, his chest, his lips.
“They’ve taken him,” he sobbed, with a familiar apology of loss.
I tried to find the floor between his tears, hoping the pink faced baby was crawling around on the floor, searching for us with a hungry howl.
“He was too cold. They, they…I couldn’t look, babe. I’m so sorry. I, I, I walked over to the corner and I cried – I couldn’t stop crying, seeing him like that, but…but…” he struggled.
He took a deep breath and wiped his face. My body shook at the tragedy.
“But they got him out. There’s no brain damage, but he’s cold,” he paused. He grabbed my arm, twisted the latex tape like a prayer, and sighed,
“She saved his life. He’s okay, babe. We have a baby and he is here. You did it.”
He hung his head like he had years before, broken but standing, clinging to me with everything he had.