As my new adventure nears, I need to submit a sample to the writing workshop I will be attending. It has been a couple years since I last shared parts of my memoir Sophia’s Story on my blog. It was this story of my life–and my first daughter’s life–that lead me back to writing. Through what seemed to be my worst nightmare came a beauty I had never known before. From a mother’s new love for a first child, my writing voice was born.
I am dusting off Sophia’s Story and doing my third edit on the piece. After taking time to pursue new projects, I am ready to approach it with fresh ideas and new vigor. Maybe this will be the time for the world to read Sophia’s Story.
If you have followed my writing since the beginning, you may have read this excerpt (in an earlier revision) before, and I would be pleased if you wanted to read it again. If you joined me more recently, I invite you to take a moment out of your day to view my work below. Over the next few days, I plan on releasing another sneak peek or two of this chapter. Feedback is welcomed, as always, and may be incorporated into my edits before I submit it to the workshop organizers. So please leave me comments about your thoughts, suggestions, or even just a few words about how Sophia’s Story touches you.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy.
[Part 1 of Chapter Twenty-Four]
3:10 am, December 31, 2010
One-and-a-half hours post-birth, Ashley conducted another heartbeat check. Jason delicately took Sophia, holding her at an easily accessible angle. Carefully placing the familiar two fingers on Sophia’s chest, Ashley held very still. Her stone-like face is eerily static; her mouth did not mime the seconds as they ticked on the wall clock. There was no time left for Sophia: no more hours, minutes, nor those precious seconds that pulsed along with her tiny heart. Fingers relenting, Ashley’s eyes turned downward, prominent with concern.
“I’ll be back. I need to find the on-call doctor.” Her urgency was palpable. Breaking into a brisk walk, nearly a jog, she abandoned us with our lifeless Sophia resting comfortably in Jason’s warm, steady hands. Her pony tail swayed in what could have be misconstrued as joy.
Tears filled my eyes; my gaze fixated on Sophia’s face. Watching her chest for any sign of life, my hope for the rise and fall of her breath could not force her petite body to persevere.
“Is it over?” My almost rhetorical inquiry met an expected silence. Jason’s saddening face mimicked mine as neither of us want to utter words more dreadful than that.
Leaning closer to me, allowing one final look at our sleeping angel, Jason quietly countered with an equally non-specific reply: “I don’t know, Babe. Maybe.”
Ashley returned to the room with purpose and diligence, guiding the on-call doctor with the leading motion of her hand. He glided around her extended limb, her assistance a mere nuisance to his arrogance. His strikingly sterile glare through his wire-rimmed glasses remained sharply framed by his dangerously spiked hair. Shivers tingled down my spine, forcing my shoulders into an awkward shuddering spasm.
This was not just an on-call doctor. This was the on-call doctor. The very one whose coldness about the impending birth, and death, of my only child nearly iced me from the inside out just a day ago.
Dispassionately, his chilly aura passed through the room like the first cool breeze in autumn that warrants an extra jacket zipped high up on one’s neck just to keep the coldness from penetrating one’s bones. Shrouded in annoyance, he hastily popped the earpieces of his stethoscope into his deeply ridged, gaping ears. Without heeding her tender skin, he held the ridiculously large, circular, metal piece to Sophia’s chest. Bowing his head to avert eye contact, he listened.
Five seconds passed. As his expressionless round face turned to us, raw, insincere words painfully diced the air. As if that cool autumn breeze plummeted into a deep winter freeze, his throaty voice offered the four dreaded words: “I’m sorry. She’s gone.” Turning to Ashley, his deep tone did not waver, “Time of death, 3:10am.”
Stealing the spot Sophia so tranquilly warmed, the bitterness of knowing she was no longer with us unbearably sat on my chest. The doctor’s numbing words drained through my unwilling ears.
As my tears replenished the dried salt tracks on my reddened cheeks, Jason whispered what we both were thinking, “We are so fortunate to have had her for as long as we did.”
A day ago, the doubts about my own daughter had gripped my every thought as we anticipated her birth. I was certain I would not have been able to hold her, love her, or see her. Scared of what we had yet to experience, the hours leading up to her birth were harrowing, filled with fear and guilt. Now, I did not know how to let her go.