The Waterfall

Nancy Cave

Copyright 2005


As we climbed the subway stairs into the morning light, my heart began its own rapid ascent into my throat. The glare momentarily blinded me as my thoughts scattered, and haunting voices from the past began echoing in my head:

"...twin B will not survive the delivery..........don't plan on bringing
home two babies.......the next time you see your son, don't be
alarmed--he will be on oxygen.......the baby is dying--let his father
hold him once--just for a minute..........doing our best for your son
........put him with his sister.......heard his sister cry and took the
bottle.........HE'S DEAF..."

 
John tugged on my hand as the light changed and grabbed JT's hand to keep him from running ahead.  The medical center loomed in front of us.  This was it, the culmination of more than seven years of trying to enable our son to lead a normal life.  All of our struggles, frustrations, hopes and dreams centered around JT's appointment with the audiologist this morning to have his cochlear implant activated.  Jessica skipped along beside me, chattering away, totally unaware that I hadn't heard a word she said.
 
We made our way to the second floor and walked through the lobby. The twins immediately headed for the decorative waterfall which gently ripples down one wall. It makes a soft gurgling sound that delighted Jessica.  JT had never heard the sound, of course.  But he loved sticking his hands in and feeling the water tumble over them.  The only waterfall JT had ever  heard with his hearing aid was a large booming one.  We quickly extricated the twins from the water and headed for the speech and hearing center.
 
The audiologist chatted cheerfully as she produced a processor, plugged it into a computer and stuck it on JT's head. She asked us to be very quiet while she proceeded to explain to us in voice and sign what she was going to do. JT was to be allowed to control the levels as his CI was mapped.  He was shown which buttons to push and told to listen very carefully so he could find a comfortable level for each electrode.  It seemed to take forever and yet no time at all.  I think I went into a bit of a daze as I watched little bars jumping up and down on the computer screen.
 
Suddenly the audiologist whispered to me, "Talk to him, Mommy."  I jumped like a startled rabbit.  The audiologist smiled, patted my shoulder and nodded toward my son.  I took a deep breath, "Hi John.  So what do you think of this?"  He started to laugh.  "Mommy, you sound different!"
 
Everyone started to talk at once.  John and I glanced at each other, only to find that we were grinning like fools.  After receiving last minute instructions from the audiologist and making an appointment for the following week, we headed once again for the second floor lobby.  JT's head was in constant motion as he tried to visually identify all the different sounds he was hearing for the first time. 
 
As we approached the area of the waterfall, I saw him slow down and look around, obviously searching for something.  "What's wrong?" I asked.  Still carefully looking around he said, "What's that noise?"  I grinned.  "It's the waterfall."  He shook his head.  "That's not the waterfall, Mommy."  He listened for a moment.  "What's that noise?"  I took him by the hand and led him to the waterfall.  At first, he just stared.  Then his eyes began to widen and as he reached out to touch the water, a smile of wonder and excitement lit up his face.  "Mommy", he yelled, "I can hear it! I can hear the waterfall!" 
 
As my eyes filled with tears of joy, I remembered that water had been the miracle of new beginnings for another child.

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