My daughter sleeps like a butterfly. Her arms and legs are always yearning for the sky.
My mother tells me I slept the same way as a child. I used to see butterflies in my dreams. On days where there was nothing but grey, the butterflies would visit my dreams and colour my nights. They haven’t visited since Mo was born. Tonight she is wearing the blue pajamas her grandfather bought for her. She will be the most beautiful blue bug in the world of dreams tonight.
They say when you become a parent, everything comes into perspective. Whoever said that probably agreed that the world was round as well. The first time I laid eyes on Mo, I lost all perspective, all reason…I am not sure I have gained it back four years later. Tears flowed freely down my face that night as the nurse placed her in my arms. I wasn’t the only one crying. The heavens poured down rain as well as it gave up one of its own.
I am moving out of the house tomorrow night. Ayo and I have agreed it will be best to end our charade of a marriage but only after we have given our daughter a befitting party.
What does it matter the exact time our marriage ends, I wonder? What matters is that it has ended and cannot be begun again. Who are we fooling? Mo? The guests? Ourselves? I stopped caring a long time ago about keeping up appearances but one more day to watch over my daughter as she makes her ascent to the skies is a gift horse I won’t look in the mouth.
My child wakes up and stretches. She sits up and tries to rub the sleep out of her eyes. I have been sitting by her bed all night. The rest of the walls in this house keep closing in on me. Only in her room can I breathe easy. She is my oasis in this desert that has become my marriage.
“Daddy”, she calls to me “is it my day yet”?
I kiss her hair with its smell of all that is right with the world and whisper in her ears how it has never ceased to be her day. I ask her about butterflies and dreams. She giggles and asks if she can be a butterfly when she is older. “Yes” I answer. “And a gorilla” I add as I tickle her. She squeals in laughter and it’s all I can do not to burst into tears. She quiets down and tells me how she wants to be free and happy like a butterfly always.
It turns out that i and my daughter want the same things. I want to be happy as well and my happiness lies away from the woman that gave her life. I have my child’s blessing.
I lift her out of bed and walk to Ayo’s room. Before I can knock on the door, my wife opens it. I reach into my pajama bottoms pocket and hand her back the divorce papers. Signed and sealed. She takes them, kisses her daughter happy birthday and shuts the door on us. I hear the sobs before the door shuts.
Mo is singing “Happy birthday to meee, how old are me now”.
“How old am I now, Mo.” I correct her.
She giggles and begins to sing “if I were a butterfly…”
I smile and walk away from the shut door to prepare my daughter for her day and myself for a life without butterflies.
Song of the day: Westlife- Angel’s wings