Kevin says I’m morbid.
On the first warm, sunny Sunday of the year, I am driving us to the Philadelphia Bookfest. I tell him, “I know that I truly love someone when I become afraid that they are going to die.”
“O that is so you,” says Kevin, “you should blog about that.”
I was afraid that Sophia would die from day one. This terrible possibility visits me, vivid and real, in my dreams. In my most recent nightmare, I am standing on train tracks, swinging Sophia into the air by her ankles. Her squeals of delight suddenly go silent as I hear a snap. “Owie,” she says, grasping her neck, and I realize her head is hanging at an unnatural angle. She does not scream. She does not cry. She simply repeats “owie” as she dies, painfully in my arms. I scream for help and though there are people all around me, no one can do anything. I have killed her.
She hasn’t merely died. She has died at my hand. Because of my neglect. Because of my carelessness. That is a necessary element in my nightmares.
This afternoon we are having a snack in Barnes and Noble with Nancy and the boyfriends. Nancy has a bag of chips and gives one to each of her sons. Wanting to be more lax about what I allow Sophia to eat, I give her one. My back is turned to Sophia as I’m talking with Nan. I see Nancy’s face change before it registers that Sophia is choking, behind me. I turn around, and her face is scarlet. Every one of my cells is drained of its mitochondria. What do I do? I fumble with the five-point restraint on her jog stroller…trying to pull her out…to do what? Hit her on the back? Turn her upside down? Nancy is at my side, calmly pulling her arms through the straps, releasing her. Sophie gasps. She’s breathing. The chip has dislodged. I lift Sophie out…she’s crying now. I clutch her to my body.
Not today. Not now. It’s not going to happen today. But someday it might. And I know it is not something I could ever live with.