Billy Joel’s recording of “Just the Way You Are” was released (or “dropped” as we say now) in September of 1977. By early 1978, the song was still getting a lot of airplay on the radio. During the nearly four months my daughter was in the Intensive Care Nursery at UCSF, my husband and I sat next to her crib for hours at a time. Whenever that song came on, played softly against the constant beeping of the monitors and the bustling activity of doctors and nurses, I looked at my baby girl with her Mohawk haircut (to accommodate IVs when they ran out of good veins), her NG tube, her scars and her chest tubes–and I would blink back the tears. When I was alone outside the hospital, I would always start to cry when I heard those first few notes.
And after each new setback and indignity, I would look at her and think: I love you just the way you are.