Red sky in the morning… I cannot finish the old saying. Not today. Not today.
I’m on the verandah sipping my coffee. The sun’s first rays are creeping over the horizon and the scattered clouds are colouring redder and redder. Not the soft pink or orange glow of most mornings; this sky is angry, a forewarning of tragedy.
Not today. Not today. I mutter again. My coffee tastes like dirty dishwater. I tip it out and hope it doesn’t kill my roses.
I shower and dress. Today I drive to the city and accompany my daughter to the hospital where doctors will induce her baby. Her longed for, precious baby after years of very expensive IVF treatments… and disappointments. So many disappointments.
My highs and lows have been a thousand times worse for Poppy but, finally, she has carried this baby to full term and her doctor says it’s time for a new life to enter our world.
My old car starts without a splutter and I offer a thank-you skyward. The red has dissipated but gloomy grey prevails.
My journey is uneventful but I cannot shake the foreboding image of that early red sky. There is no response when I knock on my daughter’s front door. Her neighbour appears wearing a crimson dressing gown. ‘She went to the hospital,’ she says. ‘She couldn’t reach you and the baby was coming.’ I curse my temperamental phone.
I catch every red light on route to the hospital, trawl the car park and finally squeeze between two dusty pick-ups.
Heart in my mouth, I run to the maternity ward.
A titian-haired nurse greets me and quickly leads me along the corridor.
I hear an anguished scream and the nurse grabs a white gown from a trolley.
Not again, not again. I’m frozen with fear but the nurse, oblivious, pushes me through the door.
‘Just in time,’ I hear someone say.
‘One more. One more.’ My daughter grips my hand and pushes.
Two minutes later I’m holding my precious granddaughter. Scarlet.
Red sky indeed.