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  • The light from the window pushed its way through the curtains, creating a geometric pattern on the floor. Every few minutes the shapes would disappear, interrupted by her bare feet as she paced. The tile floor was cold to the touch and still smelled of bleach. The cleaning staff had been in the day before, unaware of her inevitable arrival. She would never meet them, but they would be in again later to scrub away the remnants of her stay.

    Tired and overwhelmed, the activity beyond the sliding door which framed her tiny room did not excite her in the least. The ringing phones, screaming neighbors, and awkwardly noisy medical equipment went unnoticed. Even the squeaking of the nurses’ sneakers as they ran from office to bedside and back again was muted for her. All was silenced by the overwhelming fear that had arrived at 8:14am.

    She was familiar with the beginning because she had a son. He was a little over two years old. She had fed him and bathed him and kept him from putting things in his mouth. At the moment he was probably, hopefully, sleeping. But now as she paced her hospital room with her 7 ½ lb baby girl in her arms she thought, “Oh my god. I’m going to mess this up. I’m not ready. I. Don't. Know. How. To. Do. This.” The whirlwind of thoughts synchronized with her feet. Left, right, horror, doubt. Left, right, anxiety, unease.

    The hospital room was their whole world. Holding her new girl she paced. She passed the bed, the door, the chair in the corner, and the bed again. It seemed they had worn through the tile floor and lay a track for themselves. With no final destination the passengers were just waiting. Passing time, secretly hoping that the nice nurse with the feathered hair had made a mistake, Emma's young boy was down the hall with the smiling couple from the city. Or perhaps they were having a special this week and she had thirty days to change her mind; a customer satisfaction guarantee. Left, right, disbelief, outrage.

    The rest of the building had fallen quiet. Lights dimmed and Emma began to feel like the only person alive in the hospital. The baby was crying. Wrapped in a pink and white flannel blanket like a stuffed grape leaf, she cried. Who would have thought that such a tiny, little beautiful body could exude such a loud and disheartening noise. But she could. And she continued to cry as her mother, wrapping both her arms around her, trying to absorb the screams.

    Holding her baby girl in her arms, looking down at her blue eyes, bloodshot from crying, she realized that she too had tears rolling down her cheeks. Her salty tears mixed with her daughter’s creating a damp sport in her pale blue hospital gown. Pacing and pacing and crying. The only two awake in all of New York.

    She took care of her new girl, just as she had her son. She kept her belly full of healthy food and covered her with heavy jackets in the winter. She would drive her to horseback riding lessons, then karate, then little league. She would maneuver through traffic, just as she had through that tiny hospital room. The fear had subsided and in it's place was room for something bigger. Something that Emma had not had with her own mother. It wasn't going to be a matter of telling her right from wrong, it was a process, an evolution. She was not a helpless passenger on this journey, they were partners on an adventure.

    Years later Emma's daughter would ask her questions she didn’t know the answer to. And Emma would tell her with the utmost serenity: “This world is very old, millions of years old. So in the scheme of things, I haven’t been here that much longer than you. We'll figure it out together.”
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