Dear J, as you’ve probably guessed from the announcement card above, we’ve had the delight of welcoming Thea Capra Drummond into the world. There is something really magical about babies. I can’t fully describe the feeling I get when I look at her little pink face and tiny hands and feet.
Even though I have a daughter of my own, I’d never really given babies much thought. That sounds crazy, but it’s true. It wasn’t until Rachel became pregnant that I began to realize everything I’d missed out on. It isn’t that I feel regret…. how could I regret my sweet Blue? My life is all the richer for having her in it.
It has also occurred to me that the way I feel doesn’t have anything to do with actually wanting another child. I simply want to know what it was like to have Blue as an infant.
What it all comes back to is the stupid way I went about things. Chrissy and I were both just kids, dealing with our own emotional strife. Her world was rife with problems as she lived with a grandmother who was slowly sinking into senility. By the time I met Chrissy, her grandma barely even recognized her anymore.
As for me. Well, I’d lost you, Jillybean. And, even now, other than losing Blue, I can’t imagine a pain worse than having lost you. I admit that since Thea’s arrival, my emotions have been running wild. I can barely write this to you now without my throat closing up and my eyes burning. Remember when we were kids and you used to cover for me when I got in trouble? That was most of our childhood right there. You were so practical and smart. If you’d lost me instead of the other way around, I’m certain you wouldn’t have gotten into the predicament I found myself in.
Anyway, on to happier thoughts before I totally lose it…
There she was, the sweet, delicate, bundle of joy. At last, after all the hours of waiting, Rachel and Thea were safely home from the hospital. We were all standing around the infant’s swing, amazed, as if none of us had ever seen a baby before.
“Where’d you get the name Thea anyway? And how come she has blonde hair?” Blue asked.
“It was my grandmother’s name. And my mother had blonde hair,” Josh proudly gushed.
“Well, doesn’t she have any Capra in her?” Blue asked. “I love you, Uncle Josh, but I don’t think it’s fair if she’s all Drummond.”
“Shhh…. don’t wake her,” Rachel said softly, a smile touching her lips. Her voice was just as awestruck as Josh’s as she continued, “Isn’t she beautiful? I still can’t believe she’s mine.”
“She’s mine, too,” Josh said with a wink.
“You’re all wrong, you know,” Blue whispered matter of factly so as not to wake her little cousin. “She belongs to me. I’m going to teach this kid everything she needs to know.”
I put my hand on Blue’s shoulder and said, “That’s great, my little worldly novice, but I think it’s time we went home and you got some shut eye. You start school tomorrow and I want you to be ready.”
“Awww, daddy,” she groaned.
“Go on. Get your stuff.”
While Blue was collecting her belongings, I turned to the new mother and gave her a hug. “I’m really proud of you, Sis.”
Somehow, she looked different. More beautiful. Wiser. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. All I knew for sure was that motherhood had both changed her and agreed with her.
“Thank you, Leo. I don’t think I’ve said this enough, but I’m proud of you, too.”
I frowned a little, unable to fathom any reason she could be proud of me.
Her fingertips were warm as she gently touched my arm and said, “Things have been hard for you for a long time. There have been so many times I’ve worried about you but you’ve always managed to do the right thing in the end and that’s what counts.”
My face turned red as I bashfully stared at my Converse All Stars.
“Hey, guys, have you forgotten there’s a baby over here?” Josh said, his expression melting from the cuteness in the swing.
“I haven’t forgotten,” Blue declared as she came back into the room. “What’s that smell?”
I laughed a little as she crinkled her nose in disgust. “That smell is our cue to leave!” I announced, ushering her toward the door.
Instead of leaving that second, though, I took another peek at Thea. Even with all of our chatting and staring, she was sleeping peacefully, oblivious to us all.
Images of what Blue might have been like as a baby filled my mind again and I struggled to push them away. There was no point in dwelling on such things. The past was over and done with and there was nothing I could do to change it.
For the next few minutes, I told my sister and her husband again how wonderful their daughter was. Then I finally grasped Blue’s hand in mine and we left.
When we got home, Blue talked me into letting her have a bowl of ice cream. We chatted about Blue’s new school and she protested once more about having to wear a uniform. After what seemed an eternity, I was able to get her to go upstairs and get ready for bed. I spent the next little while checking all of the doors to make sure they were locked, then went to her room to check on her progress. She had her pajamas on and was standing on a pile of dirty clothes.
Before I could say anything, she waved her arms around with exaggeration and said, “Pick your clothes up off the floor, young lady. What is this, a barn?”
It was pretty obvious her imitation was of me. Even though I couldn’t recall ever saying that to her, her antics made me smile. While a maid did come in daily, this was no longer a world full of butlers and nannies. Blue was expected to pick up after herself and keep her room clean. To emphasize to her that we were supposed to be more independent now, I had been taking her to a basic parent and child cooking class. (For the record, she was doing miles better in that class than I was).
Anyway, without Rachel in charge of Blue twenty-four seven, it was up to me to make sure I didn’t raise a child who felt entitled just because her dad made a good living.
As close as I was to Blue, I wasn’t prepared for her questions this evening.
“Daddy, are we ever going to have any babies in our family?”
“Uh…. ummmmm……… Well, I’m not married to anyone, Blue.”
She scrunched up her nose, obviously thinking this over. “So, you have to be married to have a baby? You weren’t married when you had me.”
I stared at the ceiling, silently praying for this conversation to end. Why did things like this only ever come up at bedtime?
“Uh… yeah, that’s true,” I stammered.
“Is this uncomfortable for you?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
Oh, for crying out loud. “You could say that,” I admitted.
She giggled. “Well, what I think is that we need a baby, too. Just like Thea. Only it doesn’t have to be a girl. It could be a boy. I don’t care about that part.”
“Well, thank goodness for that.” My expression became more serious as I tried to think how best to handle this. “I think it’s nice that you really love Thea. And I know you will be great friends with her -”
“- But we’re not going to have a baby here, are we?”
“I’m afraid not, Blue. You see, when you have a baby with someone, it’s because you love them and want to share that joy with them. Like how Aunt Rachel and Uncle Josh love each other. And, well, I’m just not in love with anyone like that.”
She thought about this for a minute and then began to climb into her bed.
“It’s okay that you’re not in love with anyone. If having a baby means the baby’s mommy has to live here, too, then I think we’re better off not having any of it,” she decided as she pulled the covers back.
“Someday, I might find someone that we both like,” I offered.
“I doubt that.”
As concern knotted my stomach, I tucked her in, kissed her goodnight and slowly went downstairs. With all of the changes we’d been through recently, I realized I hadn’t paid much attention to Blue’s hints about not wanting a woman in her life.Well, not wanting a woman that would act as a mother to her. Or a partner to me.
If I could push my distrust aside…. if I actually found someone worthy of being in my daughter’s life… how would I ever get Blue past the feelings she’s been expressing?
As I walked through the foyer to go to the kitchen and clean up Blue’s empty ice cream bowl, the doorbell rang.
It was a strange thing, hearing the doorbell at this time of night. I hesitated, thinking maybe it would be okay not to answer it. All I really wanted was my nice clean bed and a few hours of sleep.
Yet…. there was someone at the door. Sighing, I opened it without peeking out first.
My breath caught in my throat as she stepped inside. For a moment, all we did was stare at one another. I’m sure my mouth was gaping.
Finally, she said, “Hi, Leo. It’s been a long time.”
Instantly, a picture of Chrissy Valentine that I had kept hidden in my memory surfaced. Here she was, as beautiful as ever and standing in my entryway. Gone were the remnants of the angry and rebellious teenage girl. The person who stood before me now had clear eyes, a rosy complexion and lustrous dark hair.
“A-aren’t you going to say anything?” she asked with a catch in her throat.
My mind raced as a whirlwind of feelings accosted me in waves that were so immensely unpleasant, I couldn’t sort any one of them out individually.
My head felt light and I couldn’t breathe.
That’s what I get for not checking the peephole first.
“Y-you’re hair isn’t blue,” I stupidly stammered.