He rushes to the hospital in his rusty, powdered blue pickup. Another important meeting would be missed. But work is the least of his worries. Climbing the corporate ladder is not his priority. Not right now at least. Slammed by traffic he nervously taps on his steering wheel. The tension is as thick as the stifling humidity. Another brutal 35 degree summer day. Some music should help. Absent minded, he turns The dial to any station. After a minute the radio starts to drone on and blend in with the endless line of cars ahead. He sweats profusely as he recalls vivid memories…
Cradling her lightly, his cheeks are wet with tears. Only hours old, so small, so feeble, so amazing….. A miracle in a time so dark. A birth in exchange for a death. The Gift of life crashing against the devastation of loss. Losing the woman you love is an indescribable pain; deep and haunting, piercing places you never thought possible. She died due to complications during the birth delivery. He vowed to never forget her auburn hair drifting gracefully in the summer breeze. The way she would curl her lips right before he kissed her. The countless other quirks and mannerisms he memorized and grown to love. He would never forget the stubborn, beautiful, strong woman he fell in love with.Today would be the last of his life. His last chance to cry openly. His last opportunity to be weak. He would be a father after today. Devoted solely to the life left behind by the woman he adored. But for now, for this one moment, he would let himself be weak. He held her gently against himself. A ball of life so weak, so pure; whimpering to himself ever so softly…
The blast of the horn from the red convertible behind him shocks him away from his daydream. Drenched in sweat and barely awake, his foot slams on the pedal. Back to the hospital. Back to reality.
He bursts through the doors of the lobby. Searching around in a panic; a feral beastly frenzy consumes him. Cool air blasts from the powerful AC sending a chill down his spine. “My daughter! Where can I find my daughter!” He shouts. Grabbing a nearby nurse by the shoulders, “I’m Mr. Cooper, Where’s my daughter!”
Waiting is agonizing, painful, and cruel. Three long hours have passed and his stamina is fading. His faith is being strained and his prayers are left unanswered. Slumped over in an uncomfortable chair; He waits outside the ER, a ball of negativity and concern. He clutches a piece of paper tightly; The last words he saved from his late wife. A small selection of names that have all been crossed out. All but one: Hope. He closes his eyes and starts to sob quietly. Something he promised himself he would never do again….
“Mr Cooper.” A doctor with a weary expression and a hardened face approaches. “Yes, that’s me. How is she? Is she okay?” He tries to read his eyes, but comes up empty. “I’m sorry Mr. Cooper. We’ve done all that we could. She couldn’t be saved. I’m so sorry for your loss…”
The words echo in his ears.
His world goes black and his strength disappears.
This is the day where he losses hope.
His words came trickling toward her through the thicket of sound that separated her from the world. His face was anxious that was clear. She had no idea why. He seemed to be very determined that she do something. She didn’t know what. She wasn’t even sure that she cared.
Actually, as she looked at him with focused effort, all that she was sure of was that she didn’t know who he was at all. The sounds that hummed and swam became brambles that swallowed her. She gave herself up to them.
In this place it is not really dark nor is it light. It is an always-twilight. Definitely not dawn. The topography is shapeless, colorless, flat. It isn’t foggy or smokey, nor like the moonscapes we all imagine. For this lone traveller (because you never meet another being in this place – each traveler is in their own world entirely) it is as if she has been placed inside a colorless map, one that is shut inside the glove box of the car. There is nothing to see and even if there was, with no vantage point, there is no perspective.
The ground is a different matter altogether. It is full of holes, like the child’s toy where you have to put the right shaped block into the right shaped hole. These are islands surrounded by rushing creeks that come up out of the ground and then as abruptly disappear. There are tiny footpaths along which you step with great care and even these are sometimes smothered by rolling dunes of sand.
It is here that you can get Lost. Lost isn’t falling into the shapes, or being carried away by the creek. Lost is when the path vanishes altogether and there is no way back for forward, and the light never changes and there are no landmarks by which to even guess your way home.
And all around you, like a vibration that comes and goes as if someone is irregularly striking a gong, are waves of sound. Sometimes, and more and more often the longer you stay there, the gong-ringer forgets to strike and there are passages of absolute silence. Not a clean, clear, ringing silence, but one that is stuffed with cotton wool so that not a single breath of air leaks through and reaches your plugged ears.
Slowly through the cotton wool, the bramble of sound returns. You can’t push it away. You have to wait for it to lift and when it does? You are back in the regular world again. Sometimes even there the topography is foreign, the shapes lack familiarity and the creeks rise with no warning.
The days that she made the little treks through the world as we know it, became fewer, shorter and more and more difficult. The thicket grew thicker, and brambles of sound more and more invasive, until one day she just didn’t come back out.
Her son tried to find her, he really did. So did the doctors, the kind ladies volunteering at the rest home and her grandchildren. But she was lost to them all, to the world and to herself.
by Kate Hawks