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A Missing Heart(6)

By´╝ÜShari J. Ryan

“Yes, please,” Cammy says through weak words. How is she so strong? How can she just do this? What is she feeling inside? Is she breaking like me? Is she already broken? This isn’t the girl I’ve known and loved for almost two years. This isn’t something my Cammy would do.

The nurse finally looks over at me and tilts her head gently to the side. Her eyes grow wide, and her shoulders slump forward a touch. She walks to a chair and drags it over for me and fluffs a hospital pillow, then urges me down. With her hand on my shoulder in a soothing manner, I carefully ease myself into the chair, holding this baby girl close to me, close to my heart, praying she can hear the beat and know she is connected to me for life.

I immediately become lost in my little girl’s eyes, memorizing them. Now I know how little girls wrap their daddies around their fingers. I want to give her everything. Seconds must have turned into minutes of gazing at her because there’s a knock at the door, and it startles both of us.

A young couple, straight out of that damn Homes and Gardens magazine Mom reads, walks in. These people are coming in here to take my child out of my arms. I have a child. I have a daughter. She’s mine.

The woman walks toward me with a smile from ear to ear, tears in her eyes, red cheeks—every sign telling me she’s feeling the same amount of emotion as I am, except her emotions are all completely opposite. I think.

“Oh my goodness, she is absolutely perfect and beautiful. You should be so proud of the sacrifice you are bravely making,” the woman says.

“This wasn’t my decision,” I mutter softly. I don’t want my daughter to know I made this decision if she were to ever ask about me someday.

“Oh,” she says, shocked. “I see.” The woman, who can’t be more than ten years older than me, clutches her arms over her chest in discomfort.

The man with her, who I assume must be her husband, moves beside her and places his arm around her shoulders. “I’m sure this must be very difficult for you,” he says. “But please know, you are answering our prayers with your gift.” Who the hell says that? I’m answering his prayers with my gift? This baby is my daughter—my blood. I’ve created her, and now I’m supposed to hand her off to these schmucks—as a gift?

The woman remains standing in front of me, staring at my little girl as if she wants to hold her. I know once that happens, any control I feel like I have right now will be gone forever.

“We have to give her to them,” Cammy says through a croaky sob. “Please, AJ. This is killing me. Literally killing me. I will forever be devastated by this day and I can’t endure the pain for another minute. The paperwork is done, and there is nothing I can do now…please, AJ.”

I don’t take my eyes off of my daughter. Instead, I trace my pinky over the tiny birthmark beside her right ear, admiring the way it looks like a cluster of tiny stars. I won’t waste a second of time where I could be looking at her, no matter how much I want to see the look on Cammy’s face right now. There’s a part of me that needs to know she’s feeling the same pain I am. How could she not be?

I’ve never been in pain before—not this kind of pain. It feels like someone is punching me with boxing gloves from the inside, making every one of my organs hurt and throb. How can someone give up their baby? This is all my fault. I should have been more careful. I should never have let this happen in the first place. I’m destroying my life, and Cammy’s life. Even if she doesn’t realize it this very second, we’re hurting ourselves and giving these nameless people their answered prayer.

“AJ,” Cammy says firmly. The tone of her voice is strong enough to briefly pull my attention away from my baby girl, long enough to see a pair of arms reaching down for my daughter. I want to slap them, stand up and guard her from them, but there’s nowhere to run. The woman’s hands make contact with her tiny body, they’re cupping around her, embracing her, taking this little girl from my tight grip.

As the cold air hits my skin where her warm body was just lying, I come to terms with what is happening, knowing I will never feel that sensation again for the rest of my life. A part of me has just been stolen.

My eyes are set on the woman crooning, oohing, and ahhing at my daughter. She has tears in her eyes, and the husband does too. It’s like Cammy and I have disappeared from this room and it’s only the two of them and their new daughter. But she’s not their daughter. She’s mine! I didn’t agree to give her up. I didn’t have a say. This isn’t fair.

“What kind of adoption is this?” I ask. I don’t know jack about adoptions. I’m seventeen. The thought never crossed my mind. Why would it? I thought we were on the same page. Though, thinking about it now, Cammy never expressed what was on her agenda. I assumed we were on the same page, but as it turns out, we weren’t even in the same chapter. Dad has always told me what assuming does to a man, but I'm not the ass in this situation. No way. Not this time.