I spent three wonderful years with Valerie as my wife, the love of my life, and the queen of my heart. Just as we thought we would have another blessing between us a tragedy struck that would forever change my life with the outcome that occurred.
It was late into the afternoon on a Saturday in July of the year 2025 when Valerie was in her ninth month of pregnancy. The doctors had predicted the birth to be two days from the date of today. I was reading while she was going through editing a novel I planned to publish by the beginning of the following year. We were both excited as it was my first novel and fourth release as a writer. All my previous releases were collections of short stories, poems, and essays. Although I was not a Pulitzer Prize winner or a Nobel Prize winning writer, I enjoyed great success with all of my collections being New York Times Best Sellers for at least two years. I have strayed however from my point.
My wife all of a sudden stopped dead in her tracks. She looked to me starting to breathe heavily. I knew what was going on at that point. "Alright honey, it is going to be okay just breathe I'll get you to the hospital right away," I said as I helped her outside to my old but dependable 2011 blue Toyota Tacoma. "Do you think you can make it?" I asked making sure I was prepared to deliver the baby myself if I had to. I'd rather not have had to do it because of the fact that I could hardly handle blood without passing out, but for my wife and my child to be, I would have done it if I had to.
"I can make it Walter," she reassured me with her smile that could always make me go weak. Her deep blue eyes were staring back into my grey eyes. She knew that it would be painful, but she was excited for the fact that we were about to be parents of a wonderful child. With that I drove fifteen miles obeying the speed limit on a bright sunny day.
When we made it to the hospital she was accepted right away while I filled out the paperwork. I grabbed my phone and called her parents to break them the news. They were going to catch the next flight out of Montreal to Worcester that they could. I called my mother to let her know she would soon be a grandmother. Finally I called Darlene and her wife Dianna. Both Valerie and I had decided that we wanted them to be the godparents of our child. Darlene and Dianna were going to be catching the next flight out of London where they were staying for vacation. Everything was set for me to join my wife as our child was born.
I was brought into the sealed room by a doctor who was going to be part of working on the delivery. I took Valeries hand as she was breathing hard. She looked at me and was reassured that it would all be okay. For some reason she found more strength knowing I was there with her. For the next half hour I was with her through every push, every cramp and every pain. One of the nurses looked at me rather concerned and said, "It's coming through wrong. We are going to need to turn it around.
"Is everything going to be okay?" I asked. I didn't care what we had to go through as long as my wife and child were going to be okay. For whatever else I could compensate.
"You'd be surprised at how often this occurs," the doctor said reassuringly. "I can't guarantee anything, but it usually turns out alright."
After twelve hours into labor the doctors changed shift and asked me to step outside with them. I followed them outside where they informed me of recent observations and developments. "The baby still isn't turned around the way we'd like it. The truth is your wife's hips are small. I'm concerned that this will take a lot longer than usual. This is going to be rough on everybody. I can assure you that your wife and child are being given first class attention."
"Thank you doctor," I said as I rushed back to the room. I rejoined my wife at her side. She was in a great deal of pain and only found a small amount of comfort with me by her side. It was comfort nonetheless and it was all I could give her. She looked at me with tears in her eyes. I wiped them away from her face. I assured her that we were in this together. She nodded her head and continued with admirable courage.
When she was in her eighteenth hour of labor I was asked to leave because the procedure was getting more difficult. Out of love and concern for my wife I left the room so the doctors could do their job more easily and do for Valerie what I couldn't do myself. This was only the first time that I had felt I was useless to her. It was a dreaded feeling, but for the sake of her and the child, I had to leave. I kissed her hand before leaving so she knew that my love was with her even in my absence.
I arrived to the hospital lobby where Dianna and Darlene were waiting. Darlene's short wheat field hair was shined just as brightly as it ever did. Her green eyes looked to me with excitement expecting wonderful news. I never previously told you much about Dianna. I've only revealed bits in pieces. I suppose I must go into more detail about her. She was a fine looking, petite young lady if I do say so myself. She had long black hair – which happened to be similar to Valerie's – along with bright hazel eyes that stood out for miles on end. She was always an affectionate and join filled woman – just the perfect woman for Darlene, I never could have asked better for her.
Darlene ran to me immediately and threw her arms around me almost violently – then again I was also tired so it may not have been as rough as t felt. "Did they deliver it yet?" she asked excited – when we asked her to be the godmother (or one of the godmothers rather), she became so excited you could swear she was the one who was pregnant. Dianna also had the same reaction. A lot of people criticized my decision to go against tradition and have two godmothers as opposed to a godmother and a godfather however I didn't know any other people more capable of the job. These were two loving people who would treat the child like their own.
"No she is still delivering," I replied half mumbling. "The doctors asked me to leave because the procedure was getting complicated."
Darlene laid a kiss on my cheek before releasing me from her hug. With no break afterwards Dianna followed suit in hugging me with more than I could take. "We want to see our godchild now though," Dianna said trying to lighten the mood. They both knew I was fearful and so were they, but for my sake they hid it. She also laid a kiss on my cheek before releasing me from her hold.
"Don't let Valerie catch you doing that to me," I joked. "She might start getting jealous with other women kissing me on the cheek you know."
"Oh I'm sure she is real concerned about us going too far with you," Darlene replied sarcastically. "Two woman married to each other just kissed her husband on the cheek. I believe she's felt more threatened of losing you to your writing than losing you to us."
I just laughed at her reply. Nobody could make me laugh like Darl could. Darlene could make just about anyone laugh. Valerie even declared her the most humorous person she knew. Even when Darlene wasn't making a joke she made you laugh. She drew from a hand of unprompted humor. Her spur-of-the-moment theatrics could reduce even the most serious people to heavy laughter. It wasn't even always the things she said, but rather how she said it.
"There is a café right across the street," Dianna mentioned. "Why don't we grab a bite there? You haven't eaten since your wife went in to labor I'm sure."
It seemed like a good idea at the time. The café was open 24 hours. They served just about anything at any time of the day and Dianna was right, I hadn't eaten in a long time and I was hungry, but then again so wasn't Valerie. When we had gotten to the café we were seated right away with menus and an appetizer of bread. I took one look at the bread and I knew I was hungry, but I couldn't eat. My wife and child were in a dangerous situation and I couldn't even be there for them. My heart skipped several beats time and time again and I couldn't even find it in myself to order a drink from the menu. Darlene and Dianna grew concerned over my unhealthy stubbornness, but they also both knew that they couldn't change me. They had their fill and even tried to offer me some of the food on their plates and the drinks in their cups, but I couldn't do it. Dehydration and hunger didn't scare me; losing the one I loved damn sure did.
We walked back to the hospital where we looked for an update on my wife from any doctor we could find. Finally I was given more information, one doctor told me she was still in labor, but they finally had the baby turned around. That was one step closer to finished I supposed. I was also informed that the child was a boy. It didn't matter to me boy or girl, whatever the child was I was going to love it, but at least I knew more about who I was going to love. I handed Dianna and Darlene the keys to my truck and some money to pay their way out of the garage even though they insisted they would pay. I told them I'd call when my son was born and they could stay at my house and feel just as if it were theirs until then. They reluctantly obliged knowing that I was going to continue my unhealthy habits of not eating, nor sleeping, nor drinking until further notice. They left after giving me warm embraces and wishing luck and giving love to Valerie, my son, and I. And now I was alone.
Twenty-four more hours went by and I still hadn't slept, eaten, or drank. The only times I left the lobby was to use the bathroom. Then 24 more hours passed with still no word and still no sleep, drink, or food. Sixty-seven hours had come and gone and there was still no child for me to hold and no time to give comfort and praise to my valiant and amorous wife. There were no friends and families being awestruck over an adorable child as there should have been by now. There was just loneliness with patients being rushed in and out of the hospital. The only patient I could swear I hadn't seen was my wife. Another three hours and I finally had company.
I heard the voice of a stern woman questioning a doctor in the hall. "Where is my daughter and my grandchild?" interrogated a tall and thin long grey haired woman with a man slightly shorter behind her also with grey hair. He was just as anxious to see this person as the woman in front of him, but less willing to argue about it. "My son-in-law called me three days ago and said she was in labor. What do you mean it's not born yet?"
I walked over to them in a clumsy manner. I was burdened with fatigue, hunger, and thirst, but I knew that the woman would only be convinced by the appearance of her son-in-law at this point. At last I reached them looking untidy, smelling of a horrible odor, sounding of a dying dog. "Walter you look horrendous," she gasped. "So it is true, oh my poor darlings." She grabbed me and gave the traditional French greeting of kissing the beloved on both cheeks. The man greeted me as well the same way.
"And what have you taken in the last three days young man?" She asked sternly.
"Nothing," I admitted weakly.
She immediately dragged me to a seat in the lobby and told me to stay put while she grabbed some water. I had insisted she not do so but she was determined. There was nobody more stubborn than my mother-in-law. Not even in this situation could I fight her instinct. She came back in a quick manner handing me an opened bottled of cold water. "Now drink before I make you," She warned. Over the next hour she forced me to have three bottles of water, some pudding, jell-o, and ice cream just to get something in my downsized stomach, but even she knew I wasn't going to get any sleep – she didn't even try to insist that I rest.
Another hour later the doctor came by with his clipboard. Just then Dianna and Darlene also came in concerned because I hadn't even called. They joined the three of us with the doctor as we prepared for the news. "Well the good news is that the child has been born," he started. "The bad news is that your wife won't last until tomorrow Mr. Williamson. I'm sorry, we did all we could."
I stared at him blankly as my heart seemed to stop. Everything around me ceased to exist as I heard what he said and it echoed in my mind. Dianna and Darlene grabbed hold of me trying to support me while my in-law parents embraced each other knowing that this was a bittersweet moment. What can you do in a moment like this? One is born, but another is dying. I had to love that child, but I didn't want to have to trade my wife's life for this. Valerie was more than just my wife, my soul mate, my best friend, she was part of me; she held part of me. If she were to leave so would that part of me that she held.
"Please follow me and I will bring you to them," the doctor said kindly. He knew that we'd want to see them as much as it was going to hurt. This was the last chance for me to be with my wife. Three years didn't seem long enough. With so much more ahead of me how was I going to make it without her? She promised we'd raise this baby together. She knew that I was deathly frightened to raise a child. I doubted my ability to raise one for reasons unbeknownst to me. I just was, but Valerie gave me confidence in my ability, without her I was useless – or at least that was my train of thought. Before I knew it we had arrived in the room to see the most beautiful sight that was ever imaginable.
A fatigued yet ever so beautiful Valerie was holding a small boy sleeping peacefully in a blue blanket. The child was pale with tiny hands and bits of dark hair at the top of his head. Valerie looked up from the cradled infant to me and smiled once again with that beautiful smile that I saw in the truck. I walked slowly over to her and she said in a small voice to the sleeping child, "Hey, it's time to meet daddy you sleepy head."
She told me to take the child in my arms and so I did. "Hey little guy," I said softly as I picked him up not disturbing him from his deep slumber. "Aren't you a little handsome guy?"
"You have no idea how handsome," Valerie stated. "He has your eyes. If he grows up to be just as much like you mentally as he does physically you'll have no problem raising him." That is when it hit me; this beautiful moment was not for long. It would last shorter than her time in labor by at least ten fold, if not more. I handed the child to his grandfather who cradled him carefully. I then took a seat next to Valerie on my bed while the child was passed around from person to person.
"I'd rather not do it without you," I whispered. "If I had known that I'd only get a few years with you I would have made each moment so much better."
"Walter in those few years you gave me more than I could have ever expected in a lifetime from anyone," Valerie said taking my hand. "Never doubt yourself because I will always be with you. Besides we will see each other again. It might be a long time, but my love will be with you wherever you go. I don't ask that you live the rest of your life alone either. If someone comes along that you love then for goodness sake love her as you loved me. Nobody should have to be alone."
"I understand what you are saying, but don't expect me to do so," I said as I massaged her hand gently. "What should we name him?"
"You are the one who is going to raise him," Valerie smiled. "You should choose the name."
"I want us both to like the name," I said.
"Todd is a nice name," Valerie admitted.
"I'd agree," I said.
"There is one thing I want you to do," Valerie said.
"Anything Valerie," I said getting tense.
"I want my last image to be your smile," She wished. "More than anything that's what I want."
I leaned in and kissed her on the lips one last time and managed to smile with that last memory. Just after her life support line fell flat and she was gone, along with part of my heart.
By that time the doctor had brought the child back to where they do their evaluations and other things. Darlene and Dianna put me in the middle of a sandwich hug between them. My in-laws hugged each other and also began to weep along with Darlene, Dianna, and myself.
Dianna and Darlene brought me home and stayed with me. I slept somehow, long and deep. I knew that for this child that I'd have to raise I'd have to be eventually taking this tragedy and leave move on. I'd have to do it walking away smiling. For now I had a new blessing and I'd have to take it one day at a time.