Monday, February 07, 2005

girl alfar

Sage is turning three next Monday.

I remember breaking down in tears in Hong Kong when we discovered we were pregnant and the months of anxiety that followed: thinking about how we were going to afford the child, coming back to Manila, starting a new company, Nikki falling asleep in mid-conversation.

I remember the small resentments I felt guilty about: how my life would change, how Nikki's life would change, how our married life would change - no more sudden impulse trips abroad, no more unnecessary books and comics and films and music and theater and food and friends. Goodbye to the 1 Bedroom condo at Greenhills, which was perfect for two people but impossible for 3 plus nanny.

I remember waking up and revisiting my financial status on my computer, checking the same dwindling amount, and thinking about future expenses. I accepted my fear, my ignorance, my anxieties - indicated by the fact that I did not know what the term "layette" meant.

I remember, horrible imagination that I have, crying one night because I thought about what would happen if Nikki had complications during delivery and died. Or the baby died. Or they both died.

I remember focusing on the essence of just what I needed to do, the non-negotiables: generate enough money for expenses, provide a decent home environment, and become someone new - a father, with all the mystery that role entailed.

I remember the ultrasound that told us the baby kicking inside my wife was a girl. I was honestly disappointed at first that she wasn't a boy instead, then ashamed of my reaction, then doubly shamed because I decided to settle for second-best. With my fear of being a good father, I thought that at least if I had a son then I had all the male bases covered. But a girl.

She frightened me. And I do not take well to fear.

I remember when Sage was born, that Valentine's Day she decided to claim as her early entry date into the world. I paced liked any father, exhibited all the proper symptons of stress and excitement, got into scrubs/greens and held my wife's hand while she was cut open while making jokes with the surgeons, and then seeing my firstborn for the first time, covered in my wife's fluids, fuzzy with lanugo, raw and sightless and bloodly and impossibly incredibly mine.

I remember falling in love with my daughter, seeing her in the hospital nursery, pink bracelet that boldly declared "GIRL ALFAR", an overwhelming love whose source my heart is only a small part of. It is a love that is bigger than anything I previously knew, different from my love for my wife, my love for myself, my love for writing - unalienable, encompassing, thunderous and strange.

It empowered me to deal with my fear, anxiety and guilt. It made me a father.

I remember all her firsts, all her seconds, and the other ordinals. I recall wishing she could speak, then longing for the time when we could finally converse, and how entraced I was by words she uttered, common words that became magical, forceful, rare and true because she said them, formed them, controlled them.

She's turning three next Monday. Time is both too fast and too slow, never in a Goldilocks fashion "just right".

Last week: Sage, Nikki and I are in bed. It is night. We noticed sparks from the building across the street. I tell Sage to part the curtains and check it out, my explanation about contruction and welding lost in her trail.

She looked out the window, white light flashes like she's being photographed.

"Dad," she says. "That's amazing."


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