Seventeen years ago, you changed my life for ever. You lay on my stomach and looked at me as your father nursed his nail-indented hand and the football team of nurses waited impatiently to complete their birthing routine before the next mother arrived in the maternity ward. Your eyes sought mine and locked on, and we were a team. No screams or tears from either of us. The rest of the world disappeared, and I have never forgotten that first soul-searching look, your impressive calm. In the space of a few seconds, you read me like a book. We’d only just met, but we’d been together forever.
I came into your room this morning to wish you a happy birthday. I noticed again that when you sleep, your expression is the same as when you slept in the maternity ward.
I thought back to that day. I cannot describe the fear I felt. You were four, and when the specialist told you to play in the waiting room whilst she talked to Mummy, my stomach flipped over, leapt into my mouth, then plunged into my shoes as my head pulsed with raw, primal fear. She showed me a screen with blue and red lights. Pointed to a spot on the screen and told me that the decision was up to us. I left the room in a daze, and your little voice asked if I was alright. I sang myself hoarse with songs all the way home and stopped off beside the airfield to show you the planes. You found me strangely hyperactive. I put you to bed before calling your Dad, and dissolved into tears because suddenly, I needed my parents.
No four hours of my life have never lasted so long as those four. Holding hands over two empty espresso cups as we watched 240 minutes tick by. As life continued around us, ours was in limbo. The tubes and machines. Seeing you stand up for the first time and walk again. And the omnipresent memory of touching the hand of the only person in this world who has not only physically touched your heart, but massaged it back into life.
We’ve been a long way. You’re wonderful. Happy Birthday, Bigfoot.