Something I cherish

Printed in a Tacoma, WA newspaper in the late 1970’s for their “A Christmas I Remember” series.

Editor’s note: The following entry contains no byline–as its writer noted–“for obvious reasons.” But, she added, “I hope it is printed. It is true.”

AS CHRISTMAS drew near so did my due date. “Why me, Lord?” was all I could think. Little did it matter. I was trying to do what was best.

I couldn’t forgive myself and thus wanted God to share the blame.

She arrived a few days before Christmas. As I came out of the anesthetic, a nurse came and asked if I had seen the baby.

I told her “No.” Her expression changed from smiling to shock. I didn’t know what sex the baby was, if it was alright, or anything about it. I’d received a general anesthetic so I wasn’t awake during the birth.

It was terrible, the feeling of unexplainable depression. When the doctor came in, I asked the baby’s sex. “A girl.” Could I see her? A pause as the doctor searched my eyes and said, “Usually it’s best not to.”

I shook my head. Then he added, “If you’re sure you aren’t going to change your mind…” I shook my head again.

“Well, I’ll see,” he said, and he went out the door. I’d made my decision long before this moment. The decision for her future had rested in my hands. I’d felt like King Solomon. A wise decision had to be made.

MANY FACTORS had to be considered, but the one which tipped the scale was the choice of whether she would be raised in an atmosphere of shame or one of pride. Attitudes were much different then.

I don’t know who the doctor had to convince, or if he was the one who had to be convinced, but after a time a nurse walked in carrying a tiny bundle. My baby!

My depression immediately changed to unbridled joy. What a beautiful, perfect baby! The nurse left the room, trusting me with this little creature. And fifteen years ago this was rather unusual, too. Those five days in the hospital turned from days of utter despair to days of unparalleled joy, even though I knew it was temporary.

I SAVORED every minute with her, drinking in her sweet aroma. Hour after hour, I gazed into her tiny face and whispered, “I love you…enough to give you up.”

What a wrenching. Elated with the miracle of birth and the precious baby I balanced too precariously in my two hands—at the same time devastated by the fact of not being able to give her the home and life she deserved.

Did she understand? Would she ever understand? How can anyone who has not been through this know how much love it takes to give up the beloved.

As I sat searching her face, mentally trying to touch her innermost soul, her little eyes opened. She was looking straight at me! Dear Lord, maybe she does know; maybe somehow, someway, beyond which we on earth can comprehend, she knows.

I SAID GOODBYE to my baby later that day, leaving her in the care of those at the hospital until her adoptive parents came to take her home.

Christmas was a little sad that year. However, I was thankful there was someone who would take my baby and love her. Each year the return of the “joyous season” brings back memories of those days in the hospital, when I said goodbye, making a total commitment to the secret I’d have to live with forever.

Elle Cuardaigh is author of The Tangled Red Thread


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