She was very tiny when she was born. Less than two pounds. She was so

small that her hand was no bigger than my thumbnail. When she was born an army of men in masks and green Wellingtons rushed into the delivery room and snatched her away. Now she lay asleep in her incubator, a mass of tubes hiding her little face and body. We sat on either side of the incubator and held her tiny hands between finger and thumb. The nurses had dressed her as well as they could in doll’s clothes and a woolly hat, but these were much too big for her:the dress reached down to her ankles.

Through the glass of the incubator we looked at each other. What was there to feel? Disbelief, fear, awe, gratitude, the overpowering weight of this shared experience - this dragging into the world of a little life months before its time. Suddenly her eyes opened, her tiny face puckered up and her little shoulders hunched. With a great convulsion she sneezed: the smallest sneeze that ever was, the faintest whisper of a sneeze.

That was twenty-one years ago. Nowadays, she sneezes all the time: huge, loud, extravagant sneezes that splash and startle. But that was the first sneeze, the very first, and the joy of that moment still pierces my heart like an arrow across the gentle arc of the years.


Tag der Veröffentlichung: 27.12.2009

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