from The Curvature of Certainty / Letter to Hazel
Getting over the staring phase....
I think I’m slowly getting over the staring phase.
I sense that you can pick up on my staring and that this can be unsettling for you at some level. And I’m careful to try to manage the staring process such that what staring I cannot refrain from can be done discretely, from a distance, not in your face so to speak.
Even now, as I gaze upon you, I get emotional. Perhaps even more so now that you’ve started smiling so much. You’ve no idea of the power of your smiles. Your lovely mum warned me about this, but even so I find myself swept away. You too get swept away I think. I see little spasms of ecstasy shudder through your tiny body as you crow with delight at successful smile exchanges. Sometimes you seem so delirious with happiness that the tail end of your crowing culminates in a distinctive throat catch on the cusp of your return to inhalation. That sets me off again and for short periods of time we both teeter on the edge of complete hysterical breakdown.
But something you perhaps don’t know about and that I feel I’ve strangely re-discovered, is the power of the back of your neck. I look at it and quietly crumble, without you even being aware. You’re staring at a flower or a fly or a table cloth or inner space, and I’m on the verge of tears behind you. Why is that? What is it about your neck?
Maybe it’s something to do with already being helplessly behind as you march out into the “real” world. Or something to do with that combined with the evident high vulnerability of that small area between your consciousness and your locomotion. It’s such a tender space at such a critical junction.
But I said “re-discover” because it suddenly struck me a couple of days ago that I had seen necks like this in close proximity over extended periods of time before. You will think, “Hang on a minute, aren’t I your first and only child? And wasn’t my sis already 4 when you came to know her?” – and you’d be right. Where does this familiarity come from? I certainly learned a lot from your lovely sister, but that couldn’t include realisations about infant necks. Well, a couple of days ago I had a flashback and realised it comes from the early days of your youngest uncle and auntie. That was my last period of extended contact with babies.
But mostly I wanted to tell you what a privilege it is to be your dad. Your mum granted me an enormous and largely unanticipated (in terms of strength of feeling) emotional gift which I will savour
to the end of my allocation
© 2013 Deacon Martin