There were heavy grey clouds over Wellington, but across the harbour and above the hills behind Eastbourne the clouds had lifted and broken a little to reveal a blue sky.  The harbour in Wellington is like a bowl with a ragged, lumpy rim of hills and ranges, and where the sea laps the sides there is a thin filament of road.

The traffic on the motorway was not heavy.  At Petone there are a lot of road works, bridges hanging across the new bits of the motorway we aren’t allowed to use yet as the cars are diverted along the lumpy, temporary roads that curve around piles of  stone and mounds of earth.  At the Melling turn off we had to wait along time to turn into the Hutt.  Melling station is the end of the line.  There were two sets of empty seats on the platform and a sign saying there was no service on the weekend or on public holidays.

We sat in the queue at the lights and I watched them go through their cycles.  When the oncoming motorway traffic was released it came bursting down the road towards us like a rush of bulls, or a surge of blood.  There was always the car looking to be first.  A beaten, bumper-bar-less heap of a car roared out ahead of the others, sunk queasily on its suspension.  Inside four or five dour looking boys with pasty shaven heads.

We went slowly across the Melling Bridge and followed the confusing signs around the roundabouts and through the messy squirl of streets that skirt the edges of the shopping centre of the Hutt.

Unfortunately Hutt Hospital was built in the 1980s.  Nobody will ever photograph it for an architecture magazine, or try to save it from the bulldozers when it is replaced.  It is a set of grey buildings surrounded by car parks.

It was 2.20 when we arrived and a sign said that the wards were closed until 2.30 to let patients rest.  Aunty Cathy made me hold the bunch of flowers we had bought for you because she said they were heavy but they weren’t really heavy.  The lady who made the flowers for you worked in a little shop in Newtown.  When she made the flowers she talked to Eleanor about her cat, and Eleanor climbed up the five steps at the back of the shop to look for it.  Eleanor couldn’t come because she had a cold and we thought you wouldn’t want one.

Your father came out of a room as we walked down the corridor on level two at 2.30.  He was smiling.  Your Aunt came out holding you wrapped in a little blanket that went all around you twice.  Don’t take this the wrong way, but you were rather small, and not much of a conversationalist, but you were very beautiful, and your skin was very soft and warm.  When it was my turn to hold you, you opened a glassy eye and blinked blearily at the world.  The world is an impossibly large place, but sometimes we can stop everything for a little bit and focus ourselves on someone very small and new.

After a little bit your Mum came down to the lounge where we were.  She looked tired and perfectly happy and calm.  It was her birthday.

Soon there were more people coming to visit, and I’m sure there were more people after we left, and there will be more and more of us as the days go by, but it was nice to meet you Isobelle Ruby Fogarty, and to see your Mum and Dad looking so happy.  We look forward to seeing you again.

One thought on “Isobelle”

  1. This Isobelle will probably go through her lifetime without hearing my mother’s bicycle joke.

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