Some parents measure their children’s lives in years, some in months, some even in weeks or days.

We measure his in increments of quarters of an hour. There are ninety six in a day. Six hundred and seventy two in a week.

A good quarter has no tears, not from him, not from me. It has no wails, no sobs, no croaks or groans. Our neighbours are silent, in the good quarters, but I cannot blame them when they are not. No squalling of alarms comes from the wall, no cables come unplugged.

I hold his hand, or stroke his hair, or watch him through glistening eyes.

When he wakes, I feed him, measuring each drop of milk he can take as I measure each second I spend holding him.

I sing him a song, though my throat is hoarse and my voice is like a corvid shriek. The songs I sang him in the womb. The songs I planned to sing him when he came home. The hymns he will never hear echo around a church or stadium reverberate from whitewashed walls.

At night, I rest my arm in his crib, his tiny hand in mine. His fist clenches around mine, and I stroke his russet palm. When I do sleep my arm becomes numb, and I jerk awake fearing he has gone.

Sometimes I do not wake when they come. An iron claw of guilt grips my heart when I realise I have missed a precious fifteen minutes of his life.

Then the light blue curtain is drawn back, and the nurse comes in to make her observations. The flicker of light in time with his pulse, the red glow of the monitor on his finger, the steady drip of fluids overhead, the gentle hiss of the blood pressure cuff.

And another quarter of an hour begins.

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
2 months ago

While reading this story the reader’s heart ached for both parent and child. The writing kept us invested in the child’s struggle, then realizing at the end this struggle will be repeated with pain until there are no more quarter hours left. Truly heartbreaking; written with sensitivity and caring.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
2 months ago

A very heart-rendering story, Joel, and written with so much love and warmth. As a reader, it’s easy to feel the concern and closeness between the baby and the parent, as well as the eagerness to catch every quarter of an hour of the child’s life. The superb way of describing the thoughts and feelings makes the story very emotional.

Arianna Randall
Arianna Randall (@arianna-randall)
2 months ago

incredible, tenderly heartbreaking story, Joel! ‘The good quarters’ was so unique and changed the way I thought about time. Thank you for sharing this story and I hope to hear more!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
2 months ago

Welcome to voice club, Joel. It is a touching and heartbreaking story, Joel. Well done. Keep on writing. 

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
2 months ago

Hello, Joel, welcome to Voice.club. Your story is heart rending, and so sensitively written. I don’t think anyone could fail to be touched by your words. An awful situation for any parent to have to live through, especially if they know there is no hope for improvement. Well done.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carrie OLeary
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Julie Harris
Julie Harris (@julie-harris)
2 months ago

I join the other members in saying this is a beautiful, heart-breaking story. So well-written and so full of caring. Welcome to Voice Club, Joel!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
2 months ago

Congratulations, Joel, I don’t think anyone could have failed to be touched by this story.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
2 months ago

Congratulations to your success with this story, Joel. I hope that we will read more great stories by you here in Voice.club.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
2 months ago

Congratulations, Joel. What a beautiful story, so deserving of a win. Welcome to Voice Club!

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
2 months ago

Congratulations Joel. Such a heart-wrenching story.

Allan Neil
Allan Neil (@allan-neil)
2 months ago

Writing as one who has sat beside his child whilst she passed away, I am glad I learned touch-typing as the keyboard is a blur through my tears. Stunning and an absolute bullseye, Joel.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
2 months ago

Congratulations, Joel.

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