Sometimes, I wonder how much more of this I can take. How much more physical pain and mental abuse? How much more tears? How much more fears and uncertainties? How much… more?
When my wife was pregnant, I thought I was going to be the best father to my perfect child. I will bear with his late night cries and smelly diapers, I would teach him to kick a ball and to swim when he got old enough, and I would share experiences of girls, college, and marriage as he grows up. I had all of these planned out and I was looking forward to it. But then something happened… and everything changed.
The day my son came into the world was the same day my wife left the world. The feeling of shock, horror and grief are still so fresh within me. The first time I held my boy in my arms, I asked myself if I really wanted him. He was not as innocent as everyone claimed him to be. After all, his mother died bringing him into the world. It took me a while before I saw my wife’s death as a sacrifice that should not end up for nothing. And when I accepted him as my son, I did all I could as a father.
I would wake up in the middle of the night to dry his tears, and then return to an empty bed with no one to dry mine. I would feed him and put him to sleep, and then eat my dinner alone with an empty chair in front of me. I still grief for my wife now, but back then, it was worse. I didn’t know how I was going to raise this child on my own, and yet I knew I had no other choice. There were nights where I would dream of giving him up, but the memory of my excitement when I fixed his crib and painted his room walls made me change my mind.
After months of struggling as a single parent, I soon began to learn the ropes of parenting. I began to truly feel for this boy, and the love I could not give my wife, I gave him. He became the most important person to me, and the thought of losing him terrified me. I was also finally able to feel a pinch of happiness again, but it did not last long.
When my boy was one year old, something out of my nightmares happened. My boy fell ill, seriously ill, that he needed to be admitted to a hospital with tubes attached to his body. At the sight of him in such a state, there was a wrenching pain in my chest; one that sent my mind spiraling down an endless tunnel of thoughts. When the doctor tried to explain my boy’s condition, his words were inaudible but his face said enough.
The day I brought my boy home was the day I became a father to a different child. This child was not going to kick a ball or swim, he was not going to school or college, and no one would want to marry him. Even his smile was not the same.
As I stood over his crib where he looked up at me gleefully, I realized life was not going to get easier. I had to feed him, cloth him, and bathe him for the rest of his life… literally. But strangely, I slowly grew numb to that confliction in my heart.
I found myself wanting to do everything for him. Yes, he would not be able to kick a ball as he would be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but I would still teach him to kick and swim. I would teach him all I know, and try to get him into schools. I will show him what love is, love that he will never need to receive from anyone else.
If he wants to be an athlete, I’ll train him. If he wants to be a speaker, I’ll speak for him. If he wants to see the world, I’ll show him.
No, life was not getting easier. My boy will never be a normal child, and the perfection I hoped for is scarred. But I was not going to deprive the happiness he deserves. Yes, I admit questioning my actions and wondering if I could take one more day as such.
“How much more?” I constantly asked myself.
But, “So much more,” would always be my reply.
I don’t know if my boy will ever understand me or my intentions. I don’t know if he would love me in return, or if he appreciates my hard work. All I know is my feelings towards him are real, and there are no limitations to it.
As I watched him sleep, still young and fragile, I whispered, “Tommy, daddy loves you. And daddy would do anything for you.”
Till the day I draw my last breath, everything I do would be for him; the boy I truly, truly love.
True love is not mere words or fairy tale endings. True love is sacrifice, suffering and hardship. True love has no limitations or conditions. It’s more than sweet moments and laughter, its the bitter experiences and tears too. True love is a strong emotion, so strong its like a hurricane sweeping you off your feet and a tidal wave crashing down on you.
And true love… should move you to tears just by thinking about it.
Today, the word ‘love’ has been so diluted that it’s used too casually. The reason why we are never able to fully grasps and understand the real idea of love is because we have never truly experienced it. I hope that one day, everyone would be able to experience true love for themselves; true love that dives into the soul, and breathes new life into it.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my short story. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!
© 2013 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)