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The day I loved


He opened the door as slowly as he could and crawled into my bed. The sound of his footsteps cracking on the hardwood floor of the corridor that was connecting our bedrooms had already woken me up a little but I didn’t open my eyes.
I was still half asleep and was keen not to be disturbed. But then he got close. So close I could smell him. I loved this smell. It had power over me. He had power over me. No matter what. I could forgive him. Just a smile, a hug or a “sorry” would charm me.
He lay on the pillow next to me and slid himself as close as he could. He wanted to wake me up but yet was afraid of the consequences. Needed a green light. Permission or a sign and he would stay as close as he could not to miss that sign.

I opened one of my eyes slightly to take a look. That is how irresistible his existence was. This is how irresistible his existence is. I have to look at him to live. I need his smell, his smile and his sweet words. The room was dark. My thick curtains were keeping the mornings longer to make up for the short sleepless nights. His head was on the pillow. His face which was turned towards me half-covered with his blue and white security blanket lid up with a smile and his brown eyes shined.

“Good morning Mom” He said.
“Good morning love” I replied. “I need to sleep just a little bit more ok?”

He nodded in approval while we both knew he wouldn’t be patient for more than a few minutes. He moved his fist still clinching into his blanket to his mouth and started to suck his thumb. And I closed my eyes fooling myself with the idea of being able to sleep while thinking to myself, why do I love him?

I started remembering the day I first swaddled him in this blanket.

That day in the hospital when I was left alone with him. The big room with one bed in the middle. Above my head the oxygen mask and an array of other strange instruments that were giving no indication of celebrating life. They were rather convening the fear of loss and death. A table filled with refreshing drinks on one side and the big opaque glass window on the other side were both protecting me against the hot summer which was in full force. Through the window I could see the alien city covered in the cloud of sand and dust. The city I had never liked and had never managed to make me feel home. The city of hot weather and cold people which had left so many cracks on my heart.

The tastefully chosen beige wallpaper in the front was another attempt to make the patients feel relaxed and comfortable but the thing that was making me uncomfortable was still staring right at me.

I had looked into his dark mirror-like eyes. I could see some fear with a hint of curiosity but mostly a dull, passive look who didn’t seem to be happy to be there. I had started digging in my head to find all the excitement that the anticipation of this moment had brought to me in the last few months. More I had searched less I had found. It had all disappeared.

Why had I wanted a baby? Nothing magical had happened. This was not the happiest moment of my life and I was not feeling the immediate love I was supposed to feel. Instead of the best gift in the world, I was left with this small creature. With this stranger in a strange room and a strange city between the even stranger people. This alien, wrapped in the blue and white blanket that I had bought him with so much enthusiasm.

It was hard to say who was more scared. Me, who had something so eccentric depending on me from now on and forever, or him who had gone through the trauma of birth and whose very existence I had forced upon without being able to promise his happiness.

Wasn’t it my own happiness I was searching for when I decided to take this journey? How could I have thought that the key to my content lies with another creature whose contentment I have to somehow guarantee?

Was his whole existence a way for me to forget that mine didn’t mean anything? That it would end pointlessly just the way it had started? Wasn’t the entire purpose of this defective cycle to distract us from our empty lives? Do we all give in, to our primitive survival instinct because in the end, it’s safer and cozier than our advance mind and logic?

I was scared as always and for the first time, there was nowhere to run. I took his helpless, fragile body in my arms and thought to myself how he will toughen up and how he will learn to use a crude and rough exterior to hide his delicate self from crumbling and breaking. The thing that I still hadn’t learned myself and didn’t have hope to ever learn.

In any case I was responsible for him now. Even if I could not love him the way I was told I should.

There was just one thing I had missed. His power over me and how that, will change the scenario even if the questions and answers remain the same.
I still remember the exact day. It was early morning. I had just woken up and he was snoozing in his crib next to my bed with his blue and white blanket covering his small body. The room was empty. There was nothing in it except my bed and his crib. On the floor, there were half-empty bottles of milk scattered around.

I had gotten up and cautiously approached him. Something was different about him that morning. He was peaceful for the first time. Something in him had changed or perhaps something in me. We had had a rough night and I had managed to keep him and myself calm. I had won over my anxiety and fear. For the first time in my life, I hadn’t ran away with the pressure of anxiety. I hadn’t given up. I had survived.

And now? It seemed that he had given me permission to love him and I couldn’t resist that. He had managed to make me experience the feeling of calmness again. The calmness that is only valid during stress. He had kept me company and had pushed my limits. He had shown me I can survive. I could love him only because I could love myself now. It was not him who was calmer than usual. It was me.

That’s when I understood real love. The only love in which you don’t love the originality of your relationship with the lover. But instead, you love yourself. I loved him not because of who he was or whom he could become, but because of me. And that’s the type of love that never ends.

I remember I had picked him up and held him close to my face. His face which was turned towards me half-covered with his blue and white security blanket had lid up with a smile and his brown eyes had shined. I had said “Good morning love”.

© 2020 Tanine Dunais All rights reserved
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