My heart melted when I saw her pink, chubby face and heard her cries for the first time. I felt no shame at the tears that trickled down my cheeks and threatened to drown my shoes in a pool of warm saltwater. The doctors and nurses were invisible. I had eyes only for my daughter. My life had changed in the last ten minutes, and my world would never be the same: I had a daughter! A beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, baby girl. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, little girl. Cellie Estelle. Named for my father’s mother. As I held the sleeping little angel in my arms, her life flashed through my mind. Her first steps, her first words, her first birthday, her first puppy, her first day in school, our first hike, our first book, our first canoe trip, her first scrapes and bruises, her first boyfriend, her first date, my first shotgun. And I would have to give her away someday and I didn’t want to let her go. My chest heaved with…with so many feelings and emotions: pride, wonder, exhilaration, beauty, fear, worry.
My wife’s long, hard labor left her exhausted, pale and drained, sweaty. Her black hair lay matted to her forehead, and her right cheek, as it always did, rested against the pillow. I stood by the bedside and gazed at her as she slept. She was a beautiful woman, but the look of serenity and joy, and the radiant glow that surrounded her face gave her even greater beauty. I reached out and caressed her cheek. She woke at my touch. Her eyes looked up from the pink, chubby bundle in her arms, She smiled at me and said “Look what we did, honey.” My heart swelled at her words and a lump filled my throat, my eyes again filled with tears, tears that would not stop. I couldn’t speak or I would have cried. All I could do was smile tearfully and nod my head. I leaned over and looked into her eyes, and quietly squeezed out some words. “I love you so much, honey.” I kissed her forehead and my tears fell on her face. Her hand held my cheek.
I woke. Tears welled in my eyes. Again. I lay there for a moment recalling the dream, the dream that sometimes comes, fills my mind with pride, wonder, exhilaration, beauty, fear, worry. A future. The dream that comes without warning and gives me a daughter, a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, baby girl. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, little girl. The dream that comes from that place in my soul that holds the little girl I have always wanted. The soul that never lets her go. The soul of a man who wants to hold his precious baby angel in his arms and protect her. Who wants to coo in her ear, and sing to her his mother’s songs. The little girl that is with him always, but always just out of reach. Out of reach by the touch of fingertips. Fingertips so close her warmth can be felt. I see her now. She’s smiling at me. She’s my little girl. I’m her daddy. And I love her. And all I can do is hide my tears, muffle my cries, and hope my shaking shoulders don’t wake my wife. And wait for the dream to return.
I have no children. I wish I had a daughter.