I quite honestly don't know what drove me to write this piece. Maybe for catharsis in my own entrance into fatherhood. I honestly am not quite sure, but in it lay something I think will be worth writing to a fuller extent someday. It needs a little development and I feel even deserves some extension to get from one section to the next. But alas writing is never completed, even when it is. The eternal recurrence of dispondence in one's creations.
There was stillness in the air, disturbed only by a calm breeze that rustled in from time to time. It was still and you were smoking that last cigarette of yours. While most men take to cigars in moments like this, you found comfort in these just as well. You, then again, have never taken much of a liking to cigars. You don’t know if it was the way they tasted or the perpetuity they encumber themselves in. Too much time invested in what could be more swiftly achieved, achieved in a cigarette. This still night… it was lit only by hospital lights and the ember that now danced closer and closer to my fingers bare. No stars to be found in this moment of new life.
I was bereft of thought in this moment. Bereft of words they too might have engendered. It had been this way the whole night as you and the rest waited. You had all been without true direction this night. Lost in new lands as you had but to wonder what this different frontier might be.
You’re a father… You have a son. You keep saying this to yourself, but it hasn’t quite taken full meaning yet. It hadn’t since you first discovered you were going to be one. It hadn’t even when you held that lil boy in your arms for the first time. No, nothing filled that moment other than awe and utter fear. Awe at the miracle of a child begot and fear of all that could go wrong in a child’s life… all the wrong you could do.
There was joy as well. A joy unknown till you grasp that tiny body for the first time and know that he is yours. But this ecstasy of fathering a child is quickly engulfed with a terror. A terror that dawns on you when a father you truly are. For this whole bundle of life... it is in your hands. And that for every pain he feels. Any neglect he burdens. It’s all your fault or at least you know that is how you will feel. That the tears of the child drench the father’s hands and scars the mother’s heart.
His mother. The woman you were still getting to know. So much had happen between you in the coming of this day. So much confusion. So many mistakes. So much you didn’t know. But in this moment you knew. For all you could know as you watched her hold your baby boy… is that she is perfect. The perfect mother for your son. You may not know her, but of this… nothing could ever be more clear. That she was in love with all that lil boy was and was to be, and was gracious enough to include you in such.
You take one final drag of your cigarette, thinking it will be your last. Your last solace in a substance foreign. That all you’ll ever need again lay inside that hospital waiting. Your family, larger now with the coming of child. Your friend John who, though seemingly just as nervous as you, has been diligent in his love and comradery as the night did progress. Your mother who can barely fathom the exciting days to come as a grandmother. Your brother who is too young to grasp the situation fully, but loved you enough to hunker down with you in the waiting. And then there’s her and there’s you.
Both of you exhausted from the anxious struggle, as the anticipation came to fruitful term. This process had weighed on her more than you will ever know and you could never compare her lot to your own. But even so, as you stood there holding him in your arms, she looked upon you fondly as if she knew you too had worn your burdens up to the coming of this day. You are thankful because you know she doesn’t owe you that. You’re just lucky she even told you about him. That she let you have the chance to be a shitty dad, as much as a good one too. That you got a chance at the prospect of fatherhood and all that it can be, for better and for worse. She let you have that. This was her gift to you. And as you flick that last cigarette and at a slow pace move towards the lighted doors, you breathe. You breathe… Knowing. Knowing your breath will now go on.