My niece Emma's a little different. It started after a family rafting trip turned tragic when she was twelve. Her mom, dad and brother all drowned when the raft overturned. Emma was found downstream hours later, badly bruised but alive.
When she came to live with me right after that, all Emma could talk about was how one of those Bigfoot creatures had plunged into the rapids and saved her. I did my best to bring her down gently to the reality that it's fun to tell stories about Bigfoot sightings around campfires, but only crackpots believe they actually exist.
Emma never did accept my point of view on that, though, or on much of anything else either. And when she finished high school she went to live in the woods way up north in Humboldt County instead of going to college. Like I said, she's a little different.
Last week she called and asked if she could come for a visit. I said yes, of course. Then she said she'd just had a baby girl with her boyfriend and she was bringing the baby, too. She said her boyfriend wasn't coming though because he hates to travel. Well, I didn't even know she had a boyfriend, let alone a baby. But that doesn't matter. I was thrilled to see her and the baby when they arrived this morning. The tyke was all wrapped up and sleeping, though. Emma was tired, too, so they went to take a nap in Emma's old room.
Before she fell asleep Emma told me that if the baby cried, to just leave her alone—no matter what. But a little while ago, the little one started sobbing, and it tore at my heart. I decided to tend to her. That way Emma could keep on sleeping.
I tiptoed into the room and picked up the babe. She was wiggling and wailing so hard I thought, what harm could it do to loosen the blanket a bit and uncover the baby's face so she could get some air? But as soon as I lifted the blanket flap, I felt no more weight in my arms. I saw no face, no body. The blanket held only silence, stillness.
I put the blanket down by Emma right where it had been and ran out of the room. My heart is still racing at the sight. I know I heard that baby crying, felt her squirm in my arms. Now, Emma's odd. I've always accepted that. But this goes way beyond anything I could have imagined. What on earth am I going to do when she wakes up?
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