I left my second visit with tears scratching at my eyes, my breathing rapid, my vision blurred. It had been more than a week since my previous visit to Grace, the abandoned hydrocephalic baby at Phebe hospital. I’d been distracted.

Her bed was shrouded by white and pink sheet, a new addition from the last time. When I pulled it back I sucked in my breath. Her head had grown. Now the size of a misshapen cantaloupe atop a tiny bony body, her eyes were sunk far into the sockets and rolled back often so that only the whites were visible. Her shirt, too large for so small a frame, swallowed her arms and legs forcing me to seek out a tiny foot to stroke.

My visit was brief. Too selfish to linger and look upon what I imagine is her suffering, I contributed to her care fund and left.

But Emme and Austin had heard me mention her and were curious to visit themselves. Unsure about putting her on display, I acquiesced because I hate to think of her alone in there, sheet shielding her from the rest of the world.

We walked in and Austin pulled back the makeshift curtain and Emme reached out a slender finger to stroke the tiny foot. We each cooed softly, “hey sweet baby” “hey darling” “hey beautiful” while reaching for some fragile extension of her body to touch. She grasped the single brown finger Austin held out against her spread fingers.

Nurses wandered in, curious about our presence.

“you came to see Grace? Miss Phebe, our queen,” she smiled as she adjusted Grace’s pajamas so that her hands emerged from the arm holes. “We named her Grace Phebe, she’s ours. We play with her at night when the visitors are gone so people don’t stare.”

I was touched. My fear alleviated that no one was giving her touch or love. But the nurses stood around Grace, proud mothers and fathers all.

Her head was 59 cm. Fifty-nine centimeters and growing.

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