“Please don’t go, please don’t go. I love you so.”
The last words I heard before getting here.
I don’t remember much about how I got here. I just know for certain that where I used to be is a far stretch from this fluorescent, humming, trapped place I’ve been in for the last 12 hours. The people are new, or at least I think they are new. Their voices have a faint blip on my very short memory, as if I’ve heard them in a dream once before and am now just meeting them in person.
“Oh hi ……...my …..name……..Franny…”
My hearing is fading in and out, so that I’m unable to take in everything that’s being said.
That’s Franny, she said those words to me right when I arrived. She seems kind and gentle, her voice ever so calm like the swirling of tide pools as they slowly fill. Franny’s voice mesmerizes me, slowly every part of me settles when I hear her approach. My heart went all over the place when I first got here, and it changed Franny’s demeanor to one of urgency and fear. I guess it gave Franny a good scare, and she rushed to the others. All I could hear was the beeping and the whooshing of bodies by my side. My heart was fine, it was kinda scary to have left home. Once Franny realized that I was okay she backed away slowly eyeing me, driving her eyes upward above me to a noise unfamiliar. What is above me? I crane my head, but it’s limited in motion. My head feels strapped down. Her voice drifts away, becomes muffled and intertwined with other voices that I don’t know. She keeps glancing my way in between each of her quickly sputtered words.
“Low pulse rate.”
“Yea, she wasn’t set to arrive for weeks.”
“Gloria, can you check on Hugo? He got here two days ago, he’ll need some light therapy.”
Maybe she’s telling them about me, and how I got here. I wish I could be in on that conversation, but the beeping and buzzing filling the room washes out any chance of hearing Franny speak.
“Wait, Franny…...come back….I don’t know this place, I miss my home.”
Shouting those words feels impossible and stuck in my body, the sound comes out as a tiny whimper instead. Two other voices is all I’ve ever known, and now there’s Franny’s. The intensity of the bright lights forces my eyes to droop shut, I can’t get them to open. In between the falling of my eyes, I scan parts of the room.
Blink...there’s Franny’s, but she’s blurry, or someone who is dressed just like her….
Blink...that noise, it’s so loud and piercing to my ears….
Blink….darkness, am I back where I belong? No.
Blink….someone is carrying me, “You’re not out of harm’s way yet.”
Blink….hard plastic domes cover my body….
Blink….my breath is heavy and slowing, coldness creeps over my entire body.
“I love you so, I love you so.”
Those words creep back into the subconscious again.
“You gave us a scare darlin’, we’ll be keeping an eye on you,” Franny grins and softly lays me down.
This place is unnerving, the glare of what appears to be the moon peeks through the crack of the window. It’s funny because while I watched the moon peek through I sensed a feeling of something bigger than me making me spin into an orbit. A feeling that I was about to fall, while orbiting through vulnerability of this new place I was in. I was fighting my own retrograde, unlike the big opalescent moon who appeared to know just what to do in this place we both were sharing. My arms and legs jut out all starfish like. A starfish at least gets to be in the water, where it belongs. Here is not where I belong, and there’s no water to be found anywhere.
Warmth covers my entire body, as Franny braces my head and eases me gently to my new bed. It helps that she’s wrapped me in a warm blanket snugly, it makes me feel safe and less fidgety. The beeping steadies too. Something about this sudden climate change gives my body reprieve from the blazing lights above. Heat radiates from all directions, from underneath and above. Is this what a lamp looks like? The heat tells my body it’s in the right place. The warmth is so familiar, it’s the one thing that isn’t new to me. My reflex of falling is no longer being triggered. This new place isn’t the old place though. My memory tells me I left someone behind. I haven’t heard those voices I know here yet, where could they be? They told me that when I got here, that they’d be here too. In fact they told me all about the new place, and things aren’t lining up.
“Please don’t go. Please don’t go.”
My old home. I think my mother was there, although I never really met her face to face. We mostly talked through a muffled barrier, but she told me she was my mother every single day. It’s funny how you can unequivocally know someone without ever seeing their face. I’m so tired again trying to figure out where she could be, and where I could be.
It had to have been my mother, her voice gave me the same feeling that Franny’s does. It was small, my old home, but big enough for me and what I needed. It was a cocoon of love. Just thinking about it leaves me wondering why I had to leave. Mother used to tell me every night at bedtime that when we got to our new place, I would fall in love with it. At bedtime she never spared a single detail.
“Shiloh, you’ll see. You’ll see how beautiful it is. Your daddy will hug you just like I’ve hugged you every night for the last 7 months.”
She would hum softly to the tune of “Heart of Gold,” by Neil Young. According to Mother, I was to love all of the music she loved without question. Which was fine by me, I loved my Mother so much I’d perk up when she would sing. No one could get my attention like her. I could always feel the warmth of the hand near, and the low rumble of my Father's voice reading me “Where the Wild Things Are.” Songs at bed always had Father present too, book in hand, reading until his voice would barely whisper.
“I love you so. I love you so.”
The sound of his heartbeat near mine. It’s like we were all one.
My thoughts don’t line up, focusing on this new place seems to consume me.
Why can’t I catch…..my...breat…..h………...beeeeeeeeeeeeeppppppp….
As I come back to consciousness I see a fuzzy Franny working frantically around my bed.
Franny reaches above and taps a machine, “Hey kiddo. Shhhh, don’t try to move too much. I just upped your pain medicine, so you can settle for the next few hours.”
My pain meds, is that why I feel so light? Where is my mother? Franny is wearing a purple top, it looks like the other purple topped wearing people in the room that are moving about quickly and quietly. It’s the first definitive thing I can see since I got here. It’s been 14 hours now. Franny floats around my bed, cautious and watching, tapping on a keyboard while looking above my head and back to her keyboard.
Franny leans down, adjusts a tube hanging from my nose.
How did that get there?
She whispers, “Little Shiloh, hey. I’ll take good care of you. Don’t claw at that. That’s your feeding tube baby girl, you need that. Be still.”
Her hushed voice melts me, and I stop trying to swat away the foreign tube in my body.
A familiar smell, one that smells like my mother fills my bed. Franny places a small doll-like item next to my face. Ahhhh, that’s a smell from home. I know it, it brings my breathing back to a regular pace.
The pain meds must have kicked in. I feel dreamy, and is this real? I hear a familiar voice.
“Hey baby…..it’s your Daddy……”
I feel his pulsing hand on my chest. It’s heavy, but it’s so surreal to have his touch without the barrier.
Where is my Mother? She said she would be here in the new place.
Those must be tears on my Father's face. He’s broken.
“I’m gonna take good care of you. You’re in the NICU.”
Watching his chest take the deepest breath in he chokes out, “She didn’t make it. I’m so sorry.”
Mother, please don’t go. Please don’t go, I love you so.