I saw a quote while around the delivery area of the hospital. I thought of how close it came to being the truth, without actually hitting the truth on the head for me. The quote stated simply, “Babies fill a hole in our hearts that we did not know we had.”
I have often told people that when I left Idaho, I had begun to feel like an uncaring remorseless person; that I was without a heart anymore. I often get looks as if the person wanted to say, “Whatever, you’re too nice to be like that”. They don’t understand though, I would think of things just to see if they stirred any emotion. Quite often I could find no reaction stirring in me. It troubled me because I knew they should, but I was left feeling hollow and remorseless.
Meeting my nieces for the first time changed that. Once I made it to Florida, I met my eldest niece within weeks of arriving. Her arrival so close to mine was perhaps meant to be, as when I met her, I suddenly found that thing that I did care about. The thought of anything happening to her left me shaking. My niece filled a hole that I knew was there. She took that hole and opened wider it to new possibilities. That hole was no longer a wound, but a sort of delivery entrance for all those things that truly matter in life.
It’s not a matter of me being pedantic that I say I would never have gotten married if not for my nieces. I wouldn’t have had my heart opened to those possibilities. I certainly wouldn’t have followed my heart to Ohio (simply to be near my nieces again). I wouldn’t have known how they filled that void if I hadn’t lived apart from them a year, feeling that hole slowly turn into a wound again. It was really, the way it was meant to be.
At the same time, people always told me, and I always knew, that it would be different with my own child. It was hard to fathom but I knew it was a universal truth. I began to feel in my heart that there was one more hole there. I knew where that hole was, I knew what it would take to fill it, but I simply didn’t know the shape or the size of the hole.
It was such an easy decision to have a baby knowing it would fill that hole. I didn’t know how I would feel, but I knew it would surpass anything I could imagine. This was how I went into the OR. I was waiting with baited breath to finally understand. It was exciting seeing my baby for the first time. It was exciting to give her a bath and touch her, look at her perfect hands, mouth, feet, toes… Yet I still didn’t know how I felt yet.
In the evening when we finally had some time alone, our guests had left. I sat in a rocking chair staring at my newborn daughter, talking quietly to her. I began to think back to giving her bath. The nurse had pointed out how her eyes were immediately drawn to me when I spoke. She would ignore anything anyone else said, but when I spoke her eyes came to rest on me quickly.
I looked back to my daughter, staring at me intently as I talked sweetly to her. Then I saw something I had never seen in my nieces eyes when I held them. She knew me.
I said it out loud, “You know your daddy”.
It struck me deep inside and I finally realized what people tried to tell me but couldn’t explain. My daughter was the key to that last hole in my heart. She turned open the lock and I found suddenly all the love I had kept locked away for so long. It came bubbling forth and I cried tears of sheer joy that I couldn’t have imagined. I couldn’t help myself no matter how I tried to contain it, as I realized, she knew her daddy.
My daughter filled that hole in my heart. It was a hole I always knew was there, what I didn’t realize, was that it was really a doorway to the rest of my love that I would keep secreted away.