Jeremiah

A short Story by Laura Kirsten

They stood close together, arms entwined, squinting at the sharp ray of sunlight that projected across the aqua swimming pool.

‘I really do love you, you know,’ Jonathan whispered.

‘I know you do Jon, it’s just that….’ her voice trailed off as they both heard the gentlest plop in the pool.

Their simultaneous exclamation ‘Jeremiah’ shocked them out of the brief tender moment. They rushed towards the pool gate, hoping that the gate was still locked safely. Jonathan got to the pool ahead of Kimberley and wailed as he saw their precious little boy at the bottom of the pool.

‘Why don’t you get him out of there?’ she screamed.

‘You know I can’t swim Jonathan.’ The worst anguish and fear welled up in her chest. She covered her eyes, not wanting to see what Jonathan brought up out of the pool.

Jonathan surfaced with the lifeless body of their first-born.

‘Save him dammit, Jonathan, only you can do this!’

‘Oh God, Kim, I do not know if I can…’

‘Can’t you remember your first aid training….save him, just save him pleeease, I beg you, don’t let him die…’ Sobs wracked her small frame. Droplets of water formed little rivers and trickled off Jonathan’s wavy brown hair onto Jeremiah as he lay peacefully on the paving.

Jonathan hesitated for a moment, as if trying to recall where to start this crucial feat. As if in a wind tunnel, Kimberley heard the muffled sounds as Jonathan struggled. Repeatedly, he tried to raise up some semblance of life.

‘Jeremiah, please wake up! We love you so much!’ Jonathan begged life back into his son’s little body. He took a deep breath and continued resuscitation.

Kimberley rushed over and scooped the toddler up into her arms, rocking him with all her might in a last ditch effort to bring back his little light.

Jonathan circled them both as they howled together in the back yard of their home.

‘We need the paramedics Jon…perhaps they can do a better job and save him…better than us…’ Kimberley motioned to her husband to get inside and summon the emergency services. She continued to rock her baby from side to side.

‘Oh God… he is all that we have and you know how hard we tried to actually get pregnant with him? Don’t you God, don’t you? Please save him for us, I’m begging you…’

Sirens came to a halt outside.

Kimberly was startled by the rushing feet on the paving stones that circled the swimming pool.

‘Ma’m please could you hand us the child? We need to work on him. Give him to me now please.” The middle-aged paramedic pried the mother’s fingers off the child’s body.

‘Please just give us some space now.’ His voice was kind but firm.

Jonathan held Kimberley close to his chest. He could feel her heart pounding nervously in unison with his own. Fear galloped between them.

They turned as one being as they heard the voice of the paramedic.

‘Ma’m, we need to take him with us to the hospital. We are very sorry for your loss.’

‘No, no, no, no! Please don’t take him away from me!’

‘It is okay Mrs. Taylor. You can hold him all the way to the hospital.’ The paramedic sighed as he ushered the distraught mother into the ambulance.

 Neighbours, who had gathered to support the couple, cradled Jonathan and promised to escort him to the hospital.

As the ambulance swayed from side to side, Kimberley prayed, ‘I’m not ready to give him to you yet Lord; I’m going to need your help. Please, please don’t expect me to do this on my own.’ she sobbed.

***

‘I feel so helpless, Jon. I’m not sure how I’m going to survive this’. She stared down the corridors. Her eyes saw nothing.

Jonathan sat on the wooden bench and sobbed into his wife’s lap.

Kimberley got up, dropping her husband’s head on the wooden slats.  She nervously paced the floor, staring at the huge black and white hospital clock above her head. Medical staff went about their duties, oblivious of the torment that the young couple had to endure.

‘How much longer Jon? I can’t stand this anymore.’

Jonathan was numb with fear. Numb with the unbearable sorrow that had moved into his chest cavity.

‘I can’t talk to you right now, Kim. I can’t even breathe properly!’ He gasped as he got up and stumbled towards the nurses’ station.

’ Wait Jonathan, they want us to sign off on Jeremiah forever! And they need your …’

Jonathan slammed his fist down on the white melamine top at the nurse’s desk. The Sister on duty grimaced as the files on her desk slid to the floor.

‘Mr. Taylor, I am terribly sorry for your loss…’ She glanced around nervously. ‘But this behavior will not do you or your lovely wife any good.’

She moved around the desk and gently guided Jonathan back to the bench.

‘Losing a child is the worst tragedy ever… and especially when it is such a young one.  I am truly sorry…’

‘But Sister, we struggled to have Jeremiah at all. We tried for years to get pregnant with him… what are we going to do now…?’ Kimberley had joined them on the bench.

The Sister patted the grieving mother gently on her knee.

‘God always has a plan my girl…you will see.’

‘We are ready for them now Sister Lucy. The documents are ready.’ A younger nurse approached with a file in her hands and passed them to Sister Lucy.

‘Would you please come with me, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor? You will need to sign these hospital documents and then you are free to leave the hospital.’

Jonathan sat with his head in his hands.

Kimberley moved to her husband’s side and gently touched him as his shoulders heaved with sobs.

‘I am so sorry my Love… but you have to do this. They only need your signature…’  

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