Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
“Mama?” A tiny voice slipped quietly through the room. Between her and the woman in the bed an impenetrable forest of metal stands, tubes and blinking machinery stood guard.
“Come in sweetheart, it’s alright.” Her mother’s voice warmed the space, shushing the noisy equipment. “Mama’s alright baby, come see me.”
Clad in a pink dress and knee socks, the girl of no more than five years bravely stepped away from the safety of the door frame. Big blue eyes focused and fixed on her mother lying in the hospital bed, and her legs carried her along that line of focus until she could reach out and touch her hand.
“There, there, Mama’s all better now.” She held her daughter’s hand gently, but firmly. “The doctors made me all better. Come. Climb up here and cuddle with me.” She tried her best not to wince, shuffling a little to one side to make room. She held her one arm away so her daughter wouldn’t become tangled in the web of cords snaking away from her body.
The girl climbed cautiously up the side of the bed, nearer the foot so as to avoid the side rail, and then crawled up beside her mother and lay her head gingerly on her chest.
“Did they really take out your broken heart Mama?” She barely breathed the words.
“Yes dear, they really did.”
The girl put her ear tentatively to her mother’s chest, listening for the familiar thrub thrubbing, but there was no such noise.
“Mama?” She started and stopped.
“Mama, can you still love me now that they took your heart away?” The words were brave, but her voice quivered.
Her mother wrapped her arms around her baby girl. “Of course I still love you. My love for you isn’t caught up in some broken old heart, it comes from everywhere.” She suppressed a gasp as the little girl squeezed her back tightly.
The girl contented herself snuggling quietly a time.
“Mama,” she said finally, “your love doesn’t rumble like thunder like it used to.” She pressed one ear again to her mothers breast, covering the other ear with a free hand. The sound rising up wasn’t the familiar steady beating she had grown with, but rather a different sound that ebbed and flowed. She squeezed her eyes shut and listened to breath being drawn in, and pushed out, and to the rhythmic rushing that kept time.
“Mama, your love whooshes like the ocean. Like the great big wide ocean.” She lay there, eyes closed and smiling, liking very much the new sounds her mother made.
Her mother lay still too, her tears also like the ocean, but adding no sound of their own.