The journey to this place is etched in my memory. I’ve taken it so many times before that it’s almost instinctive, too familiar.
Sat in the car park, I remember when I last parked in this bay. It was always my favourite, a treat when I bagged it. It felt like ‘mine’. I wonder who owns it now? Or if it’s waited patiently for my return.
The walk along the corridor makes my legs turn to jelly. I struggle to recognise whether this is through dread, anxiety or good old familiarity. I study the walls, the surroundings are unchanged. I study my feelings, they seem perpetual.
I wonder whether I’ll ever forget…I wonder when you’ll let me.
You’re 11 months old already, some days I can’t quite digest that. I hoped these days were over. I prayed that we’d stayed here for the last time. You’re usually so strong, I watch you battle to breathe and notice you’re still smiling. It makes it hard for me to understand how much pain you’re in. Are you hurting baby girl? Or are you accustomed? Do you feel the strain? Are you becoming tired?
I glance over at your cot from the red plastic seat and watch you sleep. The beeps and twinges of the monitor sing you a lullaby, the first song you listened to, the noise you let comfort you at the start. For a moment, I’m taken back, back to the days when all I could do was watch you sleep. The same sounds caress my ears. I know them intuitively now, I no longer need to check to see what they mean. Your heart rate is high, your oxygen levels are low. It’s okay though, you’re wiggling. The drones will subside as your body relaxes.
I inhale the air and the scent lingers in my nostrils. This place feels so conflicting. It’s tainted with trepidation, splattered with hope. It’s where I first held you, first fed you, first bathed you. It was your home and where I spent most of my time. The memories are bitter sweet. It was so hard when you stayed here, I ached for you to come home. Yet, our time here wasn’t painful. I watched you flourish and grow, I witnessed a miracle and spent most days insanely grateful.
Seeing you here again doesn’t feel strange but that’s why I’m sad.
You’re 11 months old already, it’s time to move on. It’s been 10 months since you came home, you’re strong and determined. This bug won’t defeat you, it’s only a glitch. This is the last time, I’ll dare make you that promise.
I’m ready to forget this place…I wonder whether this is the time you’ll let me forget.