To witness unconditional love is to witness grace itself. As fathers, when we hold our children for the first time, there’s a moment of immersion wherein our complete being becomes compromised and torn down and rebuilt. Our souls, our hearts and minds, everything we’ve ever known gets forever altered and intricately intertwined to 7lbs. 11ozs. of chaos. And we’re never the same for it.
To love like that, in that moment, so selflessly and overwhelmingly is a thing of relentless beauty. Few moments in life can rival this experience. It is a fleeting taste of unbound joy and desperate terror as we realize our every action from here on out will, in some odd way, impact the life of something so innocent and so pure. The birth of both of my boys rewired my heart forever.
Of course, being as how they are now 7 and 5, that innocence is melting like a glacier; we immerse ourselves not in swaddling and gentle stolen moments of holding the babies, but rather, in Transformers and fart references and the joy of cleaning up 7 million Lego pieces at a time. And that’s ok, too.
Thunderchicken became a father to a little boy yesterday. His daughter calls him her “Five Dollar Daddy”, a story that she’s concocted about how she “bought” Thunderclucker for a half sawbuck way back when. Theirs is a wonderful relationship, but I don’t have female offspring, and girls and women scare me, so I don’t pretend to understand the dynamics of fathers and their daughters, not even a little. But a son, a son is a being I can comprehend.
I was at the firehouse when Thunder and his wife welcomed their boy into the world, and it wasn’t until this afternoon that I got to see the little dude. We’d exchanged texts, like the teenage girls we are, yesterday, when he announced the arrival. Unconditional love. Two words, a bond shared between man and son, and that life altering moment. When I walked into the room, his baby wasn’t in his arms, but the look on Thundercluckers face spoke the volumes he was feeling. All of them, mashed up into one overwhelming onslaught of unabashed joy. His lovely wife was recovering from the whole affair, tired and gracious as ever. That sort of energy is infectious, and when love fills the room, if that doesn’t bring a smile to your face and peace to your heart, then you’re one cold bastard. Their little man is safe and healthy and sleepy and for that briefest of moments, you believe in the triumph of the human spirit, despite all that is wrong and crazy and destructive in this world. This boy is hope, theirs and the rest of ours.
As people gleefully passed this baby around like the cheese plate at a cocktail party, I was overwhelmed with emotion towards this person I’d known for all of seven minutes. More than that, I saw the look on his old man’s face. This is a boy who will be loved, as a child deserves, unconditionally and forever. He’ll grow up and break his parents’ hearts, his siblings toys, several rules which will cause the Thunderchicken to lose what hair he’s hoarding on his skull. I’m so excited for him, for his family. The bond between father and son is unlike anything I’ve ever felt and commandeers the better part of your heart. Watching my friend establishing these bonds is a privilege, indeed.