I been waitin' forever and a day to tell my story. Guess you say this better be a good one huh? Well it ain't nothin', that's what it is. It's a story about my nothin'.
My Mercy sure was one pretty one, wasn't she? This is a picture I drew of her. It ain't all the way right on because I'm not a professional artist or nothin' like that, but you can still tell how pretty she was. She was only three days when she went on and left. I had her right here in this house. Right here. My sister helped me deliver her. We were in my own room on my very own bed. Buford was fightin' over seas and couldn't be here. But he was here. In his own quiet way. All my brothers and sisters came and waited in the living room for the baby to come. All of them, and me of course, and Mama. Daddy wasn't here because it was Sunday and he had to preach night service. It wasn't nothin' that was ever gon keep him from night service. He didn't even miss it the Sunday after he passed. He said the Lord told him he was gon take him away and to get the service together. So he wrote it down on a piece of paper and had my oldest living brother, Theodore read it to the crowd while his body was layin' right there.
I laid down on the bed after my water broke and Happy came in and took over. I just did everything she said. She said push and I pushed. She said breathe and that's what I did too. I guess it took about ten hours. But after it was over I didn't even remember the time. What time? I just held her in my arms. Rockin' back and forth singin' to her. I knew she was gon be a girl because Happy been dreamin' 'bout me havin' a girl. Happy even knew what she was gon look like and what she come here to do. New babies always come to see Happy. They always do. Happy even told me what to name her. Mercy. I pretty much do whatever Happy tell me and it so happen I like that name too. Mercy.
After Mercy came through, everybody came into the room with us and took turns holdin' her and kissin' all over her. Everybody except Rufus. Rufus didn't touch babies. Every since his own boy, Booty passed on in his arms. He stayed away from babies. It wasn't his fault or nothin' like that. The angels got ready for Booty to come home that's all. He came in the room though. Sat over in the corner wantin' to smile. Rufus never did smile much either. He wanted to though and that's what count. So, there was Marvin, JuniorBoy, Theodore, Rufus, Happy, BabyGirl, Sister, Ruth, Amos, Paul, Simon, Ezra, Joseph and David. Esther, Nehemiah and Leviticus had passed on by then. I was the baby.
That was the happiest day of my whole life. Holdin' Mercy in my arms all night. I didn't even want to go to sleep. Happy told me to sleep when the baby was sleep so I could be well rested for her feedin'. I loved feedin' my baby. Seem like she knew better than I did. Mercy would wrap her little bitty lips around my nipple and go at it. All the way till she was full. Seem like she would drink all the milk from one breast and move herself over to the next.
Happy told me to go out Tuesday evening to get some fresh air. I didn't want no fresh air. I just wanted to stay inside and kiss over Mercy. I did what she told me to do though. I went in the back yard and sat on the tire swing Amos built. That was my dream place. I could stay out there all day and never know what time it was. I would swing on that swing and dream up some good ole dreams. That day I dreamed that Buford could be here with us and see Mercy. He wasn't gon be able to come until the end of the week. Seem like that was takin' forever. I stopped daydreamin' long enough to hear Mama and Daddy in my room singin'. They didn't never sing together. They were barely in the same room together. Daddy was always in the back room workin' on his sermon for the next Sunday. That's what babies do though. They bring folks together. I was tired of swingin' and dreamin'. I wanted to feed my baby.
I went in the house and Daddy walked out as I was comin' in. He didn't say nothin'. But then he barely did say somethin'. I picked up Mercy and there she was, just as beautiful as ever. It wasn't no baby born in this world as beautiful as mine. Mama heard me say that one time and she told me don't never say that again 'cause it was a disrespect to Baby Jesus. I guess so.
Happy told me to gon and lay down and take a nap. I told her I didn't feel like takin' no nap. I wanted to hold Mercy. Even if Mercy was sleepin' I just wanted to hold her and look at her while she slept. I could tell that Happy didn't want me to hold my own baby but she really couldn't say nothin'. She was my baby, not hers. She and Mama left the room not sayin' nothin' and I did what I wanted to do. I kinda started thinkin' that Happy was a little bit jealous of me for havin' my very own baby 'cause now she was the only one of us that didn't never have one yet.
I held Mercy for a real long time and she never did cry or fidget or nothin'. She just laid there. After a while Rufus walk in and took Mercy right out of my arms. Didn't say nothin'. Just took her and held her. I didn't say nothin' 'cause it ain't like Rufus to even hold a baby. I started to think about all the miracles Mercy was brinin' to the family already. Mama and Daddy singin' together. Bein' in the same room. Rufus pickin' up and holdin' a baby. He put his lips to her cheeks and started to cry. I did too. I guess he was rememberin' Booty.
It looked like Happy was right after all about me layin' down 'cause I shol did get real sleepy after that. I went on and took that nap. Guess I was even more tired than I thought because it was early the next morning when I woke up. I didn't see Mercy so I went to see who was huggin' and kissin' all over her. Seemed like I couldn't find nobody. Then I heard that ole piano playin' in the living room. I couldn't race in there fast enough! Didn't nobody play that piano and make it sound like that except for Buford! I stood there watchin' and listenin' to him. There he really was. So handsome. He looked at me and told me to come over and sit on the bench with him while he play.
"Where everybody at?" I don't know why I asked him like he should know.
"They out back gettin' ready. You gotta go get ready too."
"Get ready for what? I ain't goin' nowhere. Come on, baby. I got to show you yo very own baby girl. She the most beautiful baby ever been born in the world except for Baby Jesus. Where she at?" Then I went in Mama and Daddy's room and there she was. Sleepin' like an angel. Somebody had got her all dressed up for me. She had on all white with a little bonnet. I picked her up like I always do. She felt...heavy. The kinda heavy that just a few days cain't do to nobody. But what did I really know about babies? I kissed her and her skin felt like a doll skin. "She so soft, Buford. Ain't she just so pretty?"
Buford looked at her but he didn't want to hold her. Then Rufus came in and took her from me again. "Mercy gon on, Sugar. Get dressed and come on out back with us."
"Gon on? What you talkin' gon on? I knew. But I didn't wanna know. Then I heard Mama and Daddy and all my livin' brothers and sisters at the far end of the yard singin' and I knew I couldn't not know no more. Mercy had her white dress on so I put my white dress on too. Buford had on his uniform and we walked out together. My Mercy didn't have no shoes on so I didn't put none on either.
They were all there finishing up the song. Daddy was holdin' her over the hole about to pray. I didn't wanna pray. I didn't close my eyes or nothin' neither. I just looked at my Mercy one more time.