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Originally posted October 25, 2011 by karliehustle.
I saw her peek around the corner. She looked at me curiously while scratching her nose. I noticed the blue glitter polish on her nails giving way to a week’s worth of indoor fluorescent elements, contrasted with cheeks flushed red against the backdrop of yellow skin. I wondered what she had.
We’d only been in the pediatric ICU for a couple of days, but already I was becoming jaded with apathy. These kids were going to die. Not all of them, of course. But a lot. Perhaps my best friend’s baby would be one of them and I’d have to help Yvette select an eerily small coffin with pink-ruffled insides for the body of her first born.
I didn’t want to be there. It wasn’t a way to spend a Sunday afternoon. All that tumor talk had the fangs of reality chewing at my carefree agenda and I simply wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to make this about me. About how Yvette getting knocked up at 16 and having a premature daughter ruined my weekend. But we weren’t 16 anymore. We were in our mid-20s and Yvette’s baby was a miracle of biology.
“Do you know how hard it is to conceive a child?” she asked me one day during her second trimester.
I recalled seeing something on Discovery channel about it. Seemed pretty complex, but I didn’t much care. I’d never really been the maternal type and was only watching the end of that so I wouldn’t miss the beginning of my favorite forensics show.
Time ticked away slowly on that hard, plastic-chaired Sunday. My mind grudgingly accepted the responsibilities of adulthood, realizing I couldn’t just walk away this time. No more excuses or invalid reasons to use discomfort and avoidance techniques to skirt what was happening. My regressed teenage mind was always at the steering wheel in times like these. A valiant effort it took to remind myself of the social cues I’d need to master in order to save my friend who was standing, sure-footed in a pair of house shoes, on the brink of devastation. She needed me.
I grabbed her hand and looked at her, guilt coursing through my veins. She turned her head, cocked it to the side and mustered a teary smile. It was at that moment that I truly understood. I felt the power of setting aside appointment books and Outlook email schedulers. The gravity of sacrificing my nightly routine of cable and buttered popcorn. The affect of a blip of time in the history of the universe spent consoling a weeping mother. I learned that it wasn’t always about me. I learned what it was to be a friend.
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