The Gift

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Tapping with her perfect manicured finger on the rustic-looking dining room table, Elana feels sick. It’s a different kind of feeling than what she’s ever felt before. She looks up at the wall clock, staring at it, as if it will magically go back in time and heal the pain that both she and William have been feeling for the past six and a half years.  It was one sentence from her doctor which almost cost her, her marriage.

“I’m sorry Elana, we have done everything we could, and unfortunately you are infertile”

She remembers William letting his head fall into his big hands. She could see the tears streaming down his face, his ears turning red. She wanted to scream at the doctor. She wanted to scream at the staff, scream at William that it wasn’t her fault. Instead, she sat there feeling numb. She couldn’t say or do anything. She barely knew how to react.

Without thinking, she heads to the front door and pulls the maroon coat over her shoulders. The morning air is cold against her face and she instantly feels better. A jogger and his dog pass her and he greets politely. She smiles and waves back and feels the nauseating feeling in the pit of her stomach return.

Inside the pharmacy she takes off her coat, hangs it over her arm and walks over to the aisle that she’s grown familiar with. So many tests to choose from, her eyes scan the different packaging and she decides on the digital ‘Clearblue’ brand. Elana heads over to the counter and places the test in front of Doris. Doris has been working there for the past ten years and has come to know Elana and her struggle, someone she was able to turn to every time a test came out negative. Doris looks at her with a frown but Elana chooses to ignore her reaction.

“Good morning dear, is this all for you today”? Doris asks, wiping a strand of soft grey hair from her face.

“That’s all, thank you Doris” Elana smiles and looks down at the brown package Doris hands to her.

Elana rushes home and feels the burning sensation moving its way up her throat. She reaches the neutral coloured bathroom just in time and hugs the porcelain bowl.

“What is going on with me”? She whispers to herself and searches for the brown packaging next to her.

She places the test, covered in its purple and white packaging, on the basin in front of her and sets the timer on her cell phone. Three minutes.  She stares out the bathroom window, overlooking the vineyard behind their home. So many times she’s dreamt of taking a stroller through the vineyard while singing lullaby’s to their baby. Taking afternoon walks in the winter, going to the park or even driving out to her and William’s favourite spot at the lake. Throwing out a blanket and having a picnic, just the two of them. She’s been disappointed countless times before, but there’s still a single grain of hope left in her.

The buzzer of the timer goes off; startling her and the nauseating feeling is back. Elana takes a deep breath and struggles to compose herself. She is too scared to look at the test. She rolls her eyes, what is she going to do? Wait for William to get home and look at the test for her? She straightens the scarf around her neck and takes the plastic tube holding her greatest dream in it carefully between her fingers. Elana gasps. It’s positive.

***

“Mr and Mrs Rhodes, are you ready to find out if it’s pink or blue”? The gynaecologist asks while moving the ultrasonic probe over Elana’s stomach.

Elana knows that William is secretly hoping for a boy but she doesn’t care.

“As long as it’s a healthy baby, we will be happy with whatever the gender is” Elana smiles while staring at the baby on the monitor and William takes her hand in his.

“Well, I am pretty sure that both of you will be happy with the outcome. There’s a strong and healthy little baby boy growing inside of you, congratulations”!

Elana can feel the tears rolling down her cheeks and looks over at William who is silently whispering a ‘Thank you Jesus’ to her. Teary eyed, they both head out of the doctor’s office and for the first time in six and a half years Elana feels that they are closer than ever.

***
Waking up to rumbling in the bathroom, William throws the covers to the side and slowly opens the door.

“Elana honey? What’s wrong?”

Elana is hunched over the basin and he can clearly see the pain in her expression.

“William, something is wrong” she manages to say before collapsing on the cold, hard tiles.

He grabs her head before it hits the ground and he picks her up and carries her back to the bed. Frantically searching for his phone, his fingers seem to have lost all feeling. Elana is still breathing but he knows that he needs to act fast. He runs to the baby room, grabbing the hospital bag and hooks the car keys off the hook in the kitchen. Back to the bedroom, he carefully picks her up and run to the car, praying.

The drive to the hospital is short but William can hardly see as the tears are streaming down his face. The traffic light turns a bright red and he slams on the brakes. He hits the steering wheel with his fist and the tires scream against the road when the light turns back to green.

He burst through the hospital doors with his two most precious possessions in his hands. Hospital staff scrambles to help him and Elana disappears through two white doors. He is numb. He stares at the windows but can’t see anything. Images of Elana are flashing through his mind. The first time they met, the first date they went on. Their wedding day and the time they spent away on their honeymoon touring through Indonesia. Their Sunday morning breakfast ritual at the coffee shop on the corner of Jameson Street where Elana ordered the same thing every time, a scone with strawberry jam and cheese.

A cold hand rests on his forearm and he is pulled back to reality.

“Would you like to sit down”? She asks and William frowns, feeling a sudden urge to tell this woman to buzz off and leave him alone. He is perfectly fine standing in front of the double doors that swallowed his wife and child a few minutes ago.

But he doesn’t. Tears fill his eyes and he follows the woman to the waiting area. Seconds later, someone hands him a cup of coffee but he is unable to bring himself to drink it. He looks down at the titanium ring on his left hand ring finger and thinks back to the promises he made to her.

“In sickness and in health, until death do us part” he whispers and breaks down uncontrollably.

***
After what feels like hours, a doctor knocks on the door of the room that William has been waiting in. The doctor looks drained and tired. William jumps to his feet and the doctor extends his hand.

“Mr Rhodes, I am doctor Pillay, I have some bad news about your wife. Unfortunately, she did not make it, I am so sorry for your loss”.

Time stood still. For the first time in his thirty eight years of existence he was speechless. He had nothing to say. He wanted to punch this doctor standing in front of him, hit him so hard to make him feel the pain he is feeling right now by what he just said. He just stood there. He frowned, tears streaming down his face once again.

“Mr Rhodes, we managed to save your baby boy” the doctor spoke again.

His eyes shot up and he followed the doctor to the hospital nursery. A friendly nurse in a navy and white uniform handed him the most perfect little human he has ever seen. He rubbed his thumb over the tiny hands and started sobbing.

“Everything is so perfect” he whispers and the nurse smiles at him.

“Congratulations Mr Rhodes and may I say that I am very sorry for your loss.”

He can see and feel the sincerity of what she said and he feels a sense of comfort having his son in his arms.

“Do we have a name for the little one”? She asks, still smiling at him.

William looks down at the baby boy that has dozed off.

“Daniel William Rhodes” he answers, feeling peace washing over him like a tidal wave.

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