I, The Lonely

At around midday on the 16th of June, I held my newly born, firstborn daughter in my arms for the very first time. She was six days old, covered in wires and tubes, the most beautiful being I have ever seen, and about an hour earlier I had been told that there was nothing more the hospital could do to help her recover. Instead, they would disconnect her from the respirator at some point in the near future, because the injuries to her brain did not allow her to ever reach a sustainable life.

It’s a strange thing, grief. There I was, six days into the most devastating situation I have ever had to endure, an hour after the gut-punching, heart-wrenching, world-ending message had been delievered, and all my sorrow melted away. It was just past midday, and the nurses had put my daughter on my chest, and for the very first time I was holding her.

At that point every cloud on my mind evaporated, and the only feeling that remained was that of a blue and green, clear-sky summer day, full of warmth and life. I felt my daughter’s breath on my chest, her whole body tensing and relaxing in uneven intervals. We were no longer a father and his dying daughter, but instead became two beings entirely intertwined in a world where everything is temporary, and time has no meaning. Love, not fleeting and fickle, but entirely unconditional and as matter-of-factly as a law of nature, cocooned us.

In the days leading up until the excruciating message, I had showed my love for this completely innocent being with gentle touches, and the only other way I know how: I put one of my earbuds on her ear, and we shared some of my favourite records, and when we didn’t listen to music, I sang for her. One song quickly became her song, and while I would have liked to say that there were deep and profound reasons for why, the simple truth is that it was the one song I could remember some lyrics to. So I sang and I hummed that song to my baby girl, and I like to believe that somehow she signaled to me that she liked it, and it became her song.

As I finally got to hold her, then, and everything was perfect and still, I sang, and I hummed, and I felt the sound resonate through her body and reverberate back to mine, and time ceased. These were the words I sang:

I, The Lonely
Tax-collector never had
Such a feeling
Before you came
And, you descended
I amended
And I need it like a hole in the head
Yes I need it like a hole in the head
Hmmm, mmm, mmm-mmm
Hmmm, mmm, mmm-mmm
Hmmm, mmm, mmm-mmm
You took me to the lion’s den
Hmmm, mmm, mmm-mmm
Hmmm, mmm, mmm-mmm
Hmmm, mmm, mmm-mmm

If you have heard the song, you may recognise it as a jumbled version of the lyrics to “Lion’s Den” by the now dissolved British band, Dry The River. I do not know what the original meaning behind the song may have been, nor do the words I sang for my daughter have any particular meaning. All I know is that the melody, and the sound of the words and hums, became my daughter’s song. And it was the soundtrack to the time my daughter and I shared, in which time lost its power, and the span of a few days became a lifetime.

After an eternity with my daughter, when my wife-to-be and mother of my child awoke me from the slumber I shared with our only child, there was no sorrow. Right then and there I saw in her all the beauty of our child, and I knew for the briefest moment that all would be alright. Or maybe, just maybe, it already was.

Still, now we must find a way to live without our daughter. But the memories we got from that one week with our daughter, who passed the following day, the evening of June 17th, make all the difference. And we have her song, to sing and to hum to listen to, and we have those lifetimes we shared with her on our chests.

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