She drapes like a rag doll along my chest. Is she awake or asleep? Her low muscle tone makes it hard to tell. My breast molds to her tummy, that softness already scarred by surgery on her third day of life. Her perfect toes graze my navel, rising and falling with my breath. A clear tube extends from her nose to an oxygen tank near my feet. A disc of surgical tape on the apple of her cheek holds the tube in place.
My niece’s heart lies inches above my own. Her blood flows across the ventricles and atria, mixing what was meant to stay separate. My own orderly chambers mimic rhythm for her pulse, coax her blood into a river flowing purposely within its banks. I invoke a metaphysical call-and-response. I induce a biological hypnosis to suggest healing into her.
How many will see her extra 21st chromosome as something missing rather than something more? The odds were against her birth. Yet, here she is. Here is Jordan.
“You’ll make it,” I tell her. “I know it’s hard, but it’s going to be worth it.” I nestle her against me and summon the delicacy of aspen leaves trembling yet holding fast in the wind, the tenaciousness of hoar frost under bright, winter sunlight. I send her the joy of it through my pores.
Already I see her shiny black shoes. She’s running toward me, arms flung wide.