It sounds so wrong to say it.
My daughter, Emma, is apparently not my daughter.
I haven’t wrapped my head around the utter what-the-fuckness of all this. I’ve been living with my friend Isaac for three days now. My wife, Alice, and I haven’t spoken since I left her. Stay and yell at me Charlie, she had pleaded. I didn’t have it in me to yell, let alone stay.
My daughter is not mine. I’ve been running these words over and over in my head for the last couple of days. Whichever way I put it, however I sound it, it doesn’t make sense.
I was in the room when Emma was born. She was placed in my arms when her mother was still under. She met me first. I, therefore, loved her first. By the time Alice had shaken off the anesthetics after her caesarean section, Emma and I had gotten to know each other and had fallen in love. And it happened fast too.
She fell in love with me with her eyes closed. We shared so much in those first minutes when her lips were still pursed shut and she didn’t know that they could move and her mouth could produce any other sound other than a sharp wail. She opened her mouth once or twice to yawn. I felt her heart beating against my chest. When I brought my lips to her forehead, her eyes flickered briefly and though she was still reluctant to open them, I knew she knew that the kiss was my hello. She knew how I felt about her before I could find the words to express my feelings.
I cushioned her head on my folded elbow and we sat in comfortable silence for a while as I took in her hair, her nose, her ears, and every bit of her. I promised her that I would cushion her life for the rest of mine. And she heard me. Her lips stretched on both ends to show that she’d heard me. Her small hands which were folded tightly went up to her eyes. She rubbed her face without opening her eyes. That was her way of saying that she trusted me to keep my promise.
I told her how tough life could get but assured her not to worry because as long as my heart was beating like it was at that moment, thudding excitedly against her cheek, she would always have me as her shield. I promised her that I would absorb all the pain on her behalf. I made her promise that she would let me be that cushion. She shifted her head back and forth to say, “I promise.”
Alice met Emma when Emma already knew that safety was guaranteed in my arms as well.
So, how could she not be mine? How when we held onto each other as her mother was wheeled into the recovery room. When she squeezed my hand before she had the chance to be breastfed and get some strength into that grip?
This is the same girl who would run into my arms for a swing when I came back home from work. The girl that I lifted up to the ceiling and watched her watch me from up there with her toothless mouth wide open and drool dripping onto my forehead. This is the girl who had become used to not having a scare when she was in my arms. When I threw her in the air, she grew wings and gravity did not exist.
She grew up knowing my arms. Trusting my words. Relying on my eyes for comfort, and my voice for sooth. How can she not be mine?
You can imagine my devastation when Alice finally came clean. So many things hit me all at once. One, Emma was not my child. Two, Alice had managed to deceive me for ten good years. Who does that? Three, Emma’s father had somehow heard that she was sick and came to visit her in the hospital. Somehow heard. Give me a break. Four, if the man hadn’t shown up in the hospital, could I have ever found out the truth? Six, Emma was still sick.
So many things to deal with.
So many things that we haven’t done. So many promises that I made and I’m yet to keep. At 10 years of age, Emma has not had her heart broken yet. Forget that. She’s not even out of the hospital yet. And I’m yet to give hell to any of her boyfriends. And I know a heartbreak is lurking because she mentioned one Keith the other day. Keith dared to share his apple with her during break time. She reciprocated by cutting him a piece of her cupcake. I am yet to threaten this someone’s son.
I’ve not seen Emma for two days now. I miss her. I keep wondering if she’s getting better. If her breathing is much better. If the congestion in her chest has been checked by the antibiotics that she had been prescribed. I miss my girl. There’s no turning off this love now. Whether she’s mine or not.
I have to first visit Emma in the hospital. Then I need to have a talk with Alice.
I think I’m ready for some serious yelling.
To Be Continued.