Copyright 2017 Daniel Bowden
Published by Daniel Bowden at Shakespir
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Table of Contents
A Weight Off My Chest
My daughter was born in the early morning of 11th September in 2001. It was an emotional day. We had returned home from hospital just a few hours after my wife had given birth to our first, and only child, and we were witnessing the terrible events at the World Trade Center.
My wife was, quite unsurprisingly, exhausted after the birth and lay in bed asleep, while I tried to look after our one-day old baby. At just 6lb. 4oz., she seemed so small and fragile and I was simply too scared to bend her arms to fit into a small white vest.
During our antenatal classes I was told that newborn babies were unable to regulate their body temperature, so I simply held her close to my bare chest under the bed covers in an attempt to provide some much needed body heat.
I remember lying in bed, next to my sleeping wife, with my daughter lying on my bare chest. Her face had turned to the side to lie on my chest. I presumed my baby did this so that she could hear the comforting and familiar sound of a heartbeat. She lay there for over two hours while she slept. She stayed still and was totally content.
I treasured every moment, and this is where we both bonded for the rest of our lives.
Exactly thirteen years later, I am not well. I am in the same bedroom. I am in a lot of pain as my illness spreads through my body. I want it to stop now. It is Rhiannon’s birthday and my wife and daughter are with me. They are looking after me during my final days.
My wife steps out of the room and my daughter looks at me with a mixture of pity and love.
“Are you OK, Dad?”, she asks.
I look at Rhiannon and say to her, “Can you please lie on my chest?”
She knows why I am asking. While she could not remember her first day, I often reminded her of the day that she lay on my chest.
She looks at me, and knows exactly what I am asking for.
“OK, Dad” she says with sadness and a sense of finality.
She moves slowly to lie on my chest. I can feel her weight on me, which is now a lot more than thirteen years ago. In my weak state, the weight is simply crushing. Nevertheless, the memories and beauty of that first today pours through my body. I’m so proud she has grown so much. She moves her head to the side, I presume so that she can hear my heart beat.
Under the weight of my daughter I am finding it difficult to find my breath, but I do not struggle.
This is what I want.
I can feel the tears of my daughter on my chest as she lays still, just as on our first day. As the darkness descends, the pain in my body begins to disappear and the weight of my daughter is released from my chest.
I’m not a religious man, but this is as close to heaven as I will get.
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