We’re now right in the beating heart of winter, and yet six weeks ago the world somehow seemed a darker, colder place, a bleak landscape that, except for my own conceited hopes and dreams, lacked anything vibrant, anything worthwhile. In fact I felt trapped by the swirling pressures of life, the heavy hand of corrupted impurity banging down my door as I tried to sleep. But that darkness has been scattered by something so pure it bursts through the black like a lighthouse’s beam. And I owe it to someone. My demonic worry having all changed thanks to one truly beautiful entity, Phoebe Isla Huntingdon Howell.
As she grew behind the closed doors of a bump I had been filling up with a twisting torment. I was terrified of the unknown, and the bigger she grew the more my gutless perceptions blossomed like the flowers of a black orchid. I was almost broken by my standing under the cold light of societies' views and my own fears of incapability. I was awoken night after night after night by the reality of looming fatherhood, dragged out of slumber by the raucous punches of what ifs and predictions of inadequacies and a frailty in belief. Phoebe had made me short of breath without even showing her face.
After my Dad was killed I fell out of love with love. It just hurt too much when he was torn from me. Hell, love wasn’t worth the pain and so I adopted an inability to love on any meaningful level in a world that throws around such a powerful term without care or reason. Now she is here though, and I can feel my heart trying to escape its cage, fluttering about like the delicate wings of a thousand wild butterflies. My little girl has reawakened a love I'd slammed below deck and locked away with a myriad of locks and all my might, that same love I knew when I was a child. She is now six weeks old, but she was only four days old when I truly realised and accepted the truth… I’d been completely broken by her. I've been twisted around her tiny finger by something so foreign and yet so familiar, something so awakening, so beautifully poetic and euphoric and transcendent, something as pure as peace. In short, she has unequivocally stolen my heart…
It’s her eyes. I guess it might be the same with all babies, all sons and daughters, but her eyes twinkle like the night sky above the Sahara. They just stare right through me and into the real me, staring into my thoughts and love with the sparkle of absolute love. Phoebe’s eyes say everything. They want me to care for her and cherish her and protect her from life’s spoil, a world where everything is so clearly foreign, so alien. She looks up at me with an absolute trust, as if she knows her entire existence lays in the hands of her Mother and I, it’s like she somehow knows her own beautiful fragility. But what’s more, her eyes have this ability to cut through everything. Her stare cuts through every defence I’ve built up over time, over years. The wall’s I’ve purposely erected as a result of life’s hardening experiences suddenly blown apart by the explosive cannonball that is her innocence. There are no facades with a child, not with Phoebe anyway. She looks right through all superficiality with a sixth sense that highlights the trivial. It’s like she’s found an open door that leads straight to the very deepest parts of my soul, and then touches it with the tiniest of expressions, a simple flicker of her mouth and eyes enough to drop me to my knees in admiration, the most delicate of noises enough draw the words “I love you” from my lips.
Her every movement is like another brush stroke on the ceiling of our own Sistine Chapel, a delicate dance that builds on the perfection of her existence. There is no other way to put it… She is a wonder. No. She is a masterpiece of our creation.
I’ve only been a Dad for six weeks now. Six weeks is such a small blip of time and thus something I find it implausible to understand. It’s just that half of me struggles to accept the time has gone so quickly, whilst the other half doesn’t remember a time before Phoebe was here. A weird cocktail to gurgle, but the bottom line is I don’t want to remember a time before she was here. Where procrastination once had a grip, Phoebe has stolen me away, my palms propping up my chin as her mother and I just watch her for hours on end. Those moments of boredom as I flick over TV channels or radio stations have all been tossed into ‘the once upon a time category’ as I find myself occupied with a to do list I now want to do, whether cleaning or working or writing or best of all, giving my undivided attention to my gorgeous girl. There are no longer enough hours in the day, and certainly none that can be wasted. I just want to be with her. To wake her up when she is sleeping and show her off to the world, show how perfect she is to everyone we cross paths with.
It’s hard to explain, but when you have a child, when you have created life and become responsible for that delicate miracle, you adopt a strut, a confidence, a godlike feeling. You walk through crowds like a gladiator walking down the tunnel toward the Coliseum. You feel like Da Vinci and Plato and Columbus and Achilles and Ghandi all wrapped up in one. An inventor and creator and philosopher and explorer and warrior and healer carefully made into one human. With Phoebe in my arms I feel twelve feet tall, with a lions heart fuelling my protection of her and a Herculean pride that reverberates from my heart around my being like the ripples across a millpond from where a raindrop has fallen.
But whilst my role as protector feels so natural, it hasn’t settled just yet. Instead its vastness is inconceivable, it melts like light snow on a coastal path. The role of protector is too huge to understand or accept or respect. It is transcendent and beautiful and that acknowledgement alone fills me with belief, it lets me love the moment like I’d always wanted to. It allows me to adore the present and fear the future, for already I don’t want my little girl to grow up, not even a little bit. All too often I find myself guessing at what is to come, what her voice will be like, her attitude, her talents and laughs and passions and her everything, but my curiosities of character are overshadowed by my fears of what the world will do to her purity. She is so perfect that I selfishly want her to stay as she is, a tiny bundle of innocence, her all protected by me as she fits into the palm of one of my hands. I am in love with her, and in love with the now thanks to her.
I know I said it earlier, but I truly think my cognisance and attitude and joys have all changed because of those eyes of hers, those perfect blues. At twenty-six, seeing carbonated eyes has become a rarity; walking down the street it’s as if people have been dampened by experiences and become exhausted by life. That’s what makes a baby’s eyes so truly special. Everything is so new to them, so exciting, so big and surreal and adventurous and unexplained. Phoebe is the ambassador of this. She has a genuine sparkle in her eyes like a Catherine wheel burning bright and wild against a midnight sky, swivelling her head as she tries to continually unearth the unexplored, looking back at Victoria and I with her mouth agape as if to ask what everything is and does and why. Her eyes have a diamonds shine that gives me a new lease of energy and hope and faith and buoyancy and trust. Her every move warms me, her mouth contorting with every second that passes as she satisfies her curiosities with beautiful flailing limbs, her milk white tongue stuck out as her head searches for the answers she doesn’t have the questions for, the first signs of words and speech like birdsong decorating a scarlet red dawn. I can’t say it enough… her innocence is magical.
Quite simply, I could watch her for all eternity, only blinking when the tears started to roll down my cheek and onto the floor below. She is the epitome of beautiful. Her legs kicking against the air with calm excitement, her expressions acquitted of all of life’s harm, her arms whirling about over her pouting lips, her noises enough to make the most vitriolic of persons simper, like the long drawn out note of a harp string. Phoebe, I don’t ever want to stop looking at you, especially that smile, but a sadness climbs over me like a vine swallowing an old cobbled house as I accept you must grow, even if I tussle with that reality and hope you stay a small bundle of perfection forever, you must grow, and I will be there every step of the way as your father, your friend, your guide, your answers, your confidant, your protector, your guardian angel.