darling philip daniel,
late last night, i was uploading pictures of you to my flog, imagining witty replies on your behalf, that were worthy of your gorgeous expressiveness.
an apparition loomed in the distant corner of the family room. it was your mother, my beautiful best friend Fides, alabaster skin aglow, looking at me. she beckoned, "come, come!" and i threw down my precious vaio, without care to how it bounced on my coffee table. "what's wrong?" my heart ended up in my throat, a place it has grown accustomed to being, since you came in to my life. my heart raced and i was by her side in a flash..."what!"
she smiled that serene sweetness that made me think of my favourite statue of the blessed virgin and took me by the hand in to the guest room. "come watch him sleep." my heart dropped back in to its rightful place and i happily walked around the Rice Bed to peer at you, nestled between my pillows snugly. my white down comforter floated above your perfect legs like a cloud; how apposite, considering you are our little angel baby. one of your pudgy hands grasped the seam of my comforter so fiercely, baby nails digging in to feather, your delectable knuckles reduced to pindots on the back of your luxurious little hand. i was lost in those dimples, one, two, three, four.
you are four months old, and yet your grip on my comforter, my finger or the neckline of my dress is ferocious. where does all of that strength come from, angel baby? you weigh all of 15 pounds, my little pudgesicle, and yet four of the tiniest fingers i've ever seen can grip my heart like a vise. i find it so poignant that though you are tiny and helpless, you are able to pull up blankets when you need warmth; i take this as validation of your sublime potential...already you are fending for yourself, in a small way, in this big world.
your other arm stretches out like the hand of God on its way to David, and my breath catches on the elegance of your finger, pointing at what darling? what do you dream of that makes your lips pout and then round to a perfect shocked "O". you are kicking your cloud, but it loves you and like all of us, wants to be near you, so it hovers, as all good goose down comforting clouds should, over your delicious legs. i smile a wide smile and murmur, "that's my boy." and your mother looks up at me, eyes round and filled with love for you..."what's that?" she whispers, and i pull away your cloud, temporarily. your timing is perfect, godson, for as soon as i do, your right leg unfurls a mighty kick that makes your entire body shake. i grow smug and i grab your flawless ankle.
"he has a FOOT. this one is playing soccer. for sure."
she smiles at me indulgently and laughs as she points to her successful midsection, and i remember how when you were inside her, i thought you were the thing from alien, what with the way you made her body move from all your kicking. how could i have been so weirded out by that, when it was the very ankle i was holding last night that was causing such commotion? i shake my head at my own stupidity.
you turn your head, and your abundant cheek smashes against the mattress, an ample pillow for your blessed face. your lips are made in to a rosebud by this, and i am simply overwhelmed. you don't seem real. you are too amazing, too powerful, surely you are divine. your body looks as if you were cast in marble, your skin gives off such an eternal sort of glow. i am mesmerized again by your arm, so white against my red sheets. red is the colour of fortune, i remind myself, and the next time i blink, i briefly ask God to shower you with every good and perfect thing you obviously deserve.
the velocity of your dream is too much for you to bear and your head whips over, your arms stretch out and up, and your legs kick out froggily. i am using every cell in my body to refrain from grabbing you and clutching you to me, to comfort you and protect you from the monsters in your dreams. your legs extend completely, toes pointed, every muscle clenched, and your arms wave aimlessly. how it aches to not snatch you up, in your dream you are searching for one of us to hold you and we both are here...but you need your sleep angel baby. i think my heart is going to break. your eyelids flutter and i will you back to the land of nod. the fury has passed; your arms drop, slack, and your legs bend back to their natural curve. you are spent, and you exhale to emphasize it.
i have just noticed how you breathe. my zen instructors would hold you up as a model of proper breathing, little one. you fill your little buddha tummy with air and send it out completely. your precious, amazing stomach is so plump and it grows plumper with every breath you take. your pale, daffodil-coloured onesie stretches with your exertion, and i can't help myself. i rest my right hand on your tummy, to feel you breathe. you are radiating heat. this is what i love most about you. you get so hot when you sleep, "sweaty boy!" your mom forever exclaims...but i am transported to another time, another bed, and another sweaty baby who is not a boy.
i am four, and she is six months old. she is sleeping. i poke her. she stirs. i poke her again. our mom wearily tells me to stop bothering her. "my sister," i murmur, and give her a serious poke. veena, you are such a fat, pudge-alicious kid, your stomach begs for pillsburys. your eyes fly open, and as they commonly do, they cross for a moment before you focus properly and see me. your lips curl up, and you smile your liquid fuschia smile as your damp hair frames your face in steamy curls. i notice this, that every time you sleep, you blush and get so hot, and your head gets all sweaty. years later, you will come home from high school at Rio, and you will be exhausted from being one of the most popular girls at school, you will be drained after running meetings and playing tennis, and you will pass out on the family room floor, in front of the TV. cheeks still fat and flushed, i kneel down and peer over your shoulder at your peachy face. your hair no longer curls, but when i touch my index finger to your cheek it still burns. "stop bothering your sister", our mom will admonish. and i will get up, and feel foolish. i once took a picture of you sleeping, on the floor like that, face serene, in perfect repose. you are 16, and forever frozen in your dream. the picture is tucked in to my mirror, on my dresser upstairs.
this memory is almost more than i can stand, and i suddenly love my godson with an intensity that fills every crack in my tattered, worn out old heart. when i watch this baby sleep, my life, my worries recede completely. i don't dwell on the horror of the current administration, i don't worry about whether or not i should go to law school, i don't pine for world peace. when i watch this baby sleep, the world quiets to a blissful stillness and there is nothing but love, everywhere, touching everything. it doesn't matter that my life has sucked, or that someone broke my heart last year. in fact, as i notice how old and tired my tanned summer hand looks on your delicate chest, the epiphany washes over me, that he, before he broke my heart, he was a baby just like this. that his mother looked at him with even more tenderness. that his hair also curled perfectly, his lips were also gentle curves of bliss, that his feet kicked just as powerfully, because indeed, he grew up to be quite a soccer player.
i gently remove my hand and trace a line from your heart to your "foot", which moves slightly because of my embrace. did she hold his foot like this, and marvel at his toenails, no bigger than glitter...did she know that those feet would grow, and flatten and wear the wrong shoes to play basketball in at basketball city. that they would run through central park, propel him across a tennis court, walk him to his office in Rock Plaza and then bring him back home to me. how could she have known, as she grasped his perfect little ankle, that it would later have tendonitis and that in another twenty-seven years, his then girlfriend would lovingly try to rub the pain away. suddenly i understand why mothers hate their son's partners. i don't want to lose my angel baby to another girl either...what if she doesn't love him enough? what if she casts a spell, what if she hurts him? the epiphany grows and fills my thoughts. i mentally forgive every mom who gave me dirty looks for dating their son. i understand, i nod. i get it.
my pudgesicle tries to kick again, away from the ankle bracelet of my right thumb and forefinger, and my thoughts float back to soccer. yes, you will play philip daniel, you and this "foot". you will play, and i will be there and my heart will crack from all the joy of watching this foot rocket a soccer ball past a goalie's grasping fingers.
i lean over, and kiss the sole of your foot, and with that brush of my lips, my own soul drops the painful shackles of regret over last year, over love stolen, over missed opportunities. we are all someone's baby. i must remember this lesson you have so graciously taught me, little buddha. someone gazed at him, in Connecticut twenty-seven years ago with the same liquid brown eyes i behold you with right now. the parallel is so powerful that i tremble from my realisation. she loved him the way i love you. he was perfection once too...
may you always have peace, and happiness and goodness. may your life be a thousand times better than mine. but i know deep down, that you will know your own pain, and your own regret. and as i kiss your cheek a final time, and let go of my own pain, i start a karmic circle that will guarantee forgiveness for you someday, for you will surely break hearts. i inhale the heavenly perfume of your curls, the way someone else did twenty seven years ago with another perfect little boy, and i want to cry tears of gratitude, for loving you has granted my soul true freedom.
i love you always,