On April 29th I got up and got the kids ready for school. I went through all the motions of being mother of four without paying attention to what I was doing. I spent the day helping out with my nieces because my sister and her husband were out of town. On April 29th, I had ice cream with all 7 babies. My four children, three nieces, Jeff and myself walked to the nearest gas station and got cones as a special treat. We had just been playing ball in the backyard. On April 29th, the weather was nice. The sun was out and there was a slight breeze. But, I didn't even notice. On April 29th, I nursed my baby just like every other night before that, and was completely unaware of the fact that it may indeed have been the last time.
On April 29th, I still lived in my own house. I was lucky enough to be frustrated with the fact that it was never clean enough. I still got to read to my babies and kiss them goodnight before bed, and I took it for granted. On April 29th, I had the luxury of complaining that the baby kept me up late at night. I climbed into my own bed, in my own pajamas, and turned the light off in my own room. I didn't take notice because it was just my life. But that was on April 29th.
Somehow between the evening of April 29th and the wee hours of the morning on April 30th, everything changed. My house is no longer the one in which I had been complaining about. It's an institution with hundreds of other weary parents. But for some of them, April 29th was February 5th or even October 3rd. My bed is no longer the one that I share with my husband, but a pull-out vinyl chair. I don't play ball in the backyard anymore, or go on leisure walks for ice cream. Instead the games I play all have the very specific goal of bringing my baby out of his current prison. I don't get to kiss my babies goodnight. I call them on a cell phone from 2 hours away and sing the songs that I've been singing to them since they were infants. I hear them cry on the other end of the line begging me to come home. I tried to nurse my baby just like I all of those times I had taken for granted, but he doesn't remember how and he may never do it again. I may have experienced my last feeding without even knowing it. I now pump the milk out and pour it down his throat because he's lost the ability to suck and swallow.
I know that I can't change all that has happened. I know that I couldn't have done anything differently to have erased the virus that took our lives from us. But if I had the opportunity to go back in time, and if I could take what I've learned and change just one thing about all that has happened...on April 29th, I would notice.