Every New Beginning - Part 1
On the surface, nothing seemed particularly extraordinary about the morning Charlie Lavender was born. Not the leaves tossing around in the cool autumn air. Not the brown bricks lining the outside walls of Normal, Illinois’ Brokaw Hospital. Not the dull, faded stretch of white vinyl floor where William Lavender paced back and forth—a path many other soon-to-be fathers had worn out on many not particularly extraordinary nights very much like this one. He recalled nothing particularly extraordinary about the repetitive clicking sound of shoes stepping down the hallway floor as a nurse with her hair neatly tucked into her cap entered and approached him. He looked up at her, hopeful for news, and as she met his eye for the briefest second, he saw a warmth in them, the betrayed tell of a hidden smile.
William would neither recall the words she spoke, nor the way goosebumps appeared down his arms as she led him from the waiting room. He followed her, nervous with anticipation, unrolling and setting down the day’s newspaper without registering more than the title and date: The Pantagraph, September 21st, 1979. In less than a minute, they’d reached the doorway to the delivery room. Not for the first time that morning, he tapped his hand against the breast pocket of his collared shirt to ensure the cigar he’d chosen for the occasion still rested there. On finding it securely in place, as it had been for the past dozen checks, he straightened his collar and followed the nurse inside. Instead of his wife and son, he was met with a serious-faced doctor standing just inside the doorway. His heartbeat thudded heavily in his own ears as he listened to the doctor’s sentence.
“I’m afraid there were some complications.”
Outside the hospital, a black and white barn owl circled above the building. The owl’s eyes flicked this way and that, scanning the face and movements of everyone who came and went from the hospital entrance. Inside the room, William took a deep breath and collected the strength to speak.
“The baby, our son…Doc, is Charlie okay?”
“Well, see, you know, Will, ultrasound results don’t always show us everything, they can be hard to read…” The doctor's voice faltered as William looked at him more intensely.
“Is my son okay?”
“That’s what I’m trying to explain to you, Will, the baby—” The doctor started to say, but his sentence was interrupted when William gripped him by both lapels and pushed him up to the wall.
“Is Charlie alright?!”
“She’s fine.” The familiar voice of Meredith Lavender answered from behind him. He turned to her where she lay in bed holding their newborn swaddled in a pink blanket. William rushed over to his wife as she carefully handed the baby over to him. He looked down at his daughter’s few wisps of bright, red hair. “She’s fine, and she’s every bit as beautiful as her father.”
As Charlie Lavender's eyes blinked open for the first time, one blue the other green, it didn’t occur to William how, while there had been nothing particularly extraordinary about the morning his daughter was born, there would be all manner of extraordinary things about the girl.
Lost in the emotion of the moment, overwhelmed with surprise and joy, William didn’t watch the doctor as he brushed his lapels flat and exited the room. Instead he rocked his daughter in one firm arm and reached down with the other to clasp his wife’s delicate fingers with his own. His eyes glistening with barely contained tears as he looked down to Meredith.
“You’re a daddy, Will,” she said, and smiled warmly up at him. “Let’s take our daughter home.”