If love could cure, Meredith would walk. She would lean forward and grasp my two outstretched hands and pull herself up onto feet that do not twitch or flop. They would have the strength to support her body. She would hear the words I say to her each day and the meaning behind them. She would heed my yearning for her to be whole, to live the life that her father and I meant for her when we came together night after night to try for the baby we’d always wanted. Her face would twist no longer. And she would smile; a smile that would shine so bright it would eclipse even the brightest stars of heaven. My baby would speak the words her mouth can never say. No more would she be locked inside the shell of a body that has somehow strayed from its blueprint. We would go to places, do things, stuff that really doesn’t matter. I’d take her to the Laundromat and show her my first ever school. The man with the stand in Westport Park, to the right of the old pink pavilion, he would sell us hotdogs drenched in mustard and onions fried to a deep golden brown and an outsized coke big enough to slake the thirst of even the thirstiest person if only it wasn’t mostly ice.
But love cannot cure. There are some things it cannot overcome. Yet we leave the door to our hearts open anyway regardless of the ache. A living death is what one nurse called it. I heard her from in the bathroom. Still she is our daughter, regardless of whether she can move voluntarily or not. Parenthood doesn’t come with a set of rules that our children must uphold in order to be worthy of our love. For thirty seven years I have cared for her and not because she is all I have left of Harold. She is the sun around which my life rotates. She is Meredith, and for me that is enough.