It was late at night, or early in the morning, depending on your point of view. Kyle sat up in his bed, wondering what had woken him…
In the bassinet on the other side of the bed, his daughter was stretching. Her eyes were open wide and her tiny fingers balled up into fists, stretched out as far as her arms could go against the soft lace of her temporary bed. When she finished pushing and pulling her muscles out as far as they could go, she yawned deep and wide, taking in the cool evening air. The moonlight from the window above her bed cast just enough soft light onto her naked belly, chest and face, to give her a soft glow in the otherwise pitch black room.
His wife had become a full-time “mommy” since their baby was born five months prior, so Kyle was not hesitant at all to jump up preemptively and hold his daughter before her mother was pulled from the rest she so desperately deserved. He stood over the bassinet for a moment, taking in the soft lines around his child’s gray eyes and pink lips. A smile crawled onto his face while he stared at the way her pudgy arms creased together at her elbows and knees like a old-fashioned rag doll. He bent over, careful to wrap his large hands behind her back and then lifted her to him, moving slow and deliberate so as not to let her strain an ounce of strength. He pulled the blanket from her bed once she was firmly against his shoulder and wrapped her in it while he made his way to the rocking chair in the corner of the room.
The wood creaked as he leaned into the old chair, a family heirloom given to he and his wife upon his daughter’s birth by his grandmother. He watched his wife and moved slowly – her hearing had become something rivaling a dogs since motherhood, and he desperately wanted to let her sleep. Once he relaxed into the redwood frame he let out the air he was holding in his chest and began to rock slowly back and forth. Success – his wife was still undisturbed.
His baby looked up at him. Kyle looked back. Her left hand wrapped around his smallest finger. She placed her head into her father’s shoulder and closed her eyes as they moved softly back and forth in the darkness.
Kyle stared at her face and began to relax a bit, drawing comfort from his ability to save his wife for at least one night. As his mind melted into comfort Kyle allowed himself to do something he hadn’t yet: he thought about his daughter’s life to come.
Kyle knew that some day soon she would be walking, then talking and eventually she would be going to school. Kyle loved the thought of reading to her some of his own favorite books: the mathematical Carrol, some inquisitive Kipling, or the heavy-moraled Dickens. He knew that some time after that she would be reading on her own and he would settle for watching her, just watching her as she sounded out the words, and put together the sentences – taking the wheel to her own imagination.
Some day he would have to watch as she went out with her friends, embarassed by her Mother and Father. She would play it cool with them, quick to please them and unknowingly breaking her parents hearts. When it happened, Kyle would be there to comfort his wife and say “it’s a stage.” After that, at some point, Kyle would need to hold his daughter as she cried, great drops of salt streaking her make-up, weeping over the friends for whom she had hurt her parents without ever knowing it. Once again, Kyle would hold a woman he loved, rocking her then as he was now, and whispering into her ear, “it’s a stage.”
Eventually, the baby he held in his arms would be getting married. She would cry. His wife would cry. Kyle would probably cry. A man would take her out of their house and make a home with her elsewhere. Kyle would be there for their first year, when marriage was hardest to hold her and counsel him. He would hold his wife’s hand, staring at his daughter and son-in-law and tell them, “love is buoy for troubling tides and temporary storms.” They would make up and move on.
Grandchildren would come. They’d have Christmases together. They’d spoil them and read them stories like Carrol, Kipling and Dickens. And maybe, just maybe, if their was time enough, Kyle would get to hold them all as he was their mother now, and whisper into their ears, “I love you.”
His wife stirred in her bed, but only turned over and continued sleeping. Kyle looked at the small life in his hands and sighed, much like she did on occasion. He put his left hand on his daughter’s back and rubbed it gently, more for his comfort than his own. Then he stared at her, not blinking once in an attempt to stop time and enjoy the moment he was given, just then.