Genevive doesn’t have a sister. In fact, she was the second to last baby ever
born at 7:22 am during a 24-hour shift at the hospital. But she does have a
cousin. She is a year younger than Genevive. She was born at 2:47 pm.
We were both exhausted Wednesday night. That’s all they tell you when they call
an ambulance to bring you to the hospital – “you’re going to be fine.” It’s
kind of like “you’ve been here before.”
The two of us waited in the emergency room for Genevive to be wheeled off the
gurney to the operating room. I held my breath. You can’t imagine how I
loved holding my breath, waiting my turn. Then she was wheeled like a doll
outfitted with a huge surgical mask and carried away by a couple of nurses.
“Well, they’re going to fix her up,” one of the nurses said.
I was almost tempted to ask if the doctors were going to reattach her toe to her foot
after they removed it. I am a doctor. I was tempted by the notion that
Genevive’s toe used to be a whole foot but now it was only a toe. She could
still climb the rope. She could still play with her dolls. She could still crawl
into the playpen and lie down on her stomach and sleep for almost an entire
I was tempted to ask those nurses if they had seen an episode of The Brady
Bunch after they had been on duty in the emergency room. I saw a segment (“the
one about the kid who was born with a toe and is now missing a foot”) where
a guy in a wheel chair tries to get into a hospital, but is refused due to a
lack of beds. At the end, he picks up a mattress and leaves for a free bed.
Genevive was born without a toe but with a foot. She had a foot. But now she
had only a toe, and we could not find a place on the floor to put her foot on.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking of the little toe and how
perfect it looks on her new foot. You are thinking of that picture I posted
of Evey looking at a toe. You are thinking I will post another picture of
Genevive with her toe. You are thinking I will put a picture of Evey here where
Genevive can look at the toe, and maybe even talk about it. You are thinking
that a toe makes a foot more interesting. You are thinking that toe-sitting
with her foot makes her more interesting.
But I won’t. That kid who had a toe got to have a foot. Genevive got a toe.
I am not trying to be a hipster dad. I know what I’m talking about. Genevive
gets to stare at a toe for a couple hours every day just like every other kid
at this hospital. Evey will have to stare at a toe forever because she will never
have a sole. What a strange thing.
Maybe this means I don’t have to stare at a toe.
Genevive would like to be called Evey. I am going to call her whatever she wants so she
can have some control over the name. It’s better to let her choose the name,
like other kids have. I’ll pick a name and then call her what I want to. We
could call her “Eve.” I’m pretty sure she’s a girl. She likes flowers. She likes
the color pink. She likes things that are in shades of green. She likes playing
in the dirt, climbing the rope, and watching her cousins and their dolls. Other
girls her age are not interested in her favorite things. She is obsessed with
the number 7. She is obsessed with the color green. She is obsessed with the
sound of her Grandpa’s voice. There are only 7 colors in the world, and 7 is
the number of her Grandpa’s favorite color: green. She can make music out of
the sound of the word 7.
She can sing the alphabet song with the sound of the letters 7. And that’s
really cool. She can sing:
I can make the sound of the words “I can make the sound of the words “E” and “H”
and “R” and “O” and “L” and “C” and “K” and “T” and “Y” and “U” and “E”
It’s like she has seen a picture of the world that has all the letters of the
alphabet, plus a picture of herself in the middle. It is a picture that only
she can see.
Genevive has a favorite color, I think. Her favorite color?
I used to be afraid of blue. What did my grandparents tell me when they told
me I couldn’t be a doctor? Blue is the color of death. The color of death.
They told me that. I was 7.
Blue is also the color of the soul.
I’ve changed my mind. I’m not afraid of dying anymore. I was afraid for too
long. I am a doctor. And I like it when I wear a white coat. But I’m not sure
I like death any more because of my experience with blue. The fear is part of
my brain’s programming. They say you can’t change what you are, but I know
it’s possible. I’m not afraid of dying anymore because I know I will never
have to learn how to live again. I won’t have to learn how to breathe again,
and I won’t have to learn how to eat again or be hungry.
I will never have to learn the color blue again and I am a doctor. If I were
a doctor, I would never have to learn the color blue again. Evey is like blue.
Genevive is like blue. Genevive is the color of the soul.
When I am a doctor, I will never have to see blue again. I’ll never have to learn
how to breathe again, and my brain will never have to learn how to breathe. I’ll
never have to learn how to eat again, and the color blue will never have to