I’m knitting a hat for my fourth
grandson still in my daughter’s womb. The pale blue dome is soft in my
hands. I’ve washed it three times to fray the wool, to dull it down,
making it tender to the touch. I tie the finishing knot on the bonnet
for my grandson, who should come into this world in less than a week. I
place it on my desk. It stays statuesque, as though already prepared to
perch upon an infant’s head. Pictures of my other grandsons cover the
walls of my phlebotomy office like wallpaper.
A deflated mother holds the door
open for her daughter. The girl is ten. I’ve reviewed her chart. The
girl’s cheeks beam with a gossamer glow. Her Hannah Montana shirt
glitters in the bright fluorescent lights of the office. She heads
straight to the plastic chair, telling me it reminds her of the chairs
at the airport. Everything about her mother looks as though someone has
sucked the life from her with a colossal straw. Her eyes are bloodshot.
I know that to get that red, she’s been crying for days.
The young girl introduces
herself with poise and confidence. “I’m Lauren.”
“I have a daughter named
Lauren,” I say.
“It’s a great name. A strong
name,” she says, as she flips through the Highlights
magazine she plucked from the bottom of a basket, then promptly returns
to the chair. Her mother remains silent. “Doctors want to check my
platelets. I’ve got leukemia. But it’s a good thing, you know. I’m here
and not in the hospital.” This girl with eyes rivaling the blue
delphinium in my garden: her resiliency penetrates me.