I watched her while she watched. Curiously, childishly, innocently. Everything around her fascinated and surprised her. A new world, big and colorful, yet, she understood it all.
Her thoughts were full of innocence and wonder. And Bella. The love she felt for her mother was almost as strong as mine. Almost. For I nearly sacrificed this bundle of life in the name of that love. And while the danger had been indeed great and while common sense demanded that the baby die so that the mother can live, I couldn’t help but feel guilty and unworthy as a father for considering it myself. Gut wrenching guilt that ate my insides and blinded me with a force so great like only parents get to feel.
I watched as she squinted her eyes like there was something she couldn’t understand. I listened to her thoughts and chuckled as she wondered why our voices were so much louder compared to how they were when she was inside the womb. Slowly and surprisingly she figured it out on her own, again making me gape at the growing maturity in her.
And then her eyes were on me. And that strange, unfamiliar and too painful guilt emerged once again making it hard for me to look back at her. And yet, her eyes held me captivated. Because those eyes were so familiar, so deep and warm, like a sunny and happy day without worries and pain. Bella’s eyes.
She kept staring at me like she was examining me, testing me. I couldn’t quite decipher her thoughts because even though she was maturing faster that any human being, she still couldn’t form correct words and sentences. She had probably picked up one or two words from what she heard while Bella still bore her.
My head snapped up like I had been hit by a lightning. Daddy?
She was still looking at me with a curious expression probably matching my own. It had been almost a day since she was born and she had grown vastly. Bella was still transforming but had shown no signs whatsoever. I knew she would be fine, Alice had seen it, but the pain she probably felt had evaded my body and I was suffering too.
I could not bear to interact with Renesmee. Ever since she was born everybody got to spend time with her. Mostly Rosalie and Jacob but also Carlisle and Esme, Alice and Emmett, even Jasper who was still not strong enough around humans. I suppose Renesmee being half human helped Jasper restrain. I knew Alice wouldn’t let him around her if he wasn’t completely certain of himself.
And yet I, her father, the husband of her mother, couldn’t bring myself to approach her.
I was surprised she hadn’t come to the conclusion that one of the other Cullens was her father. All three men had been constantly around her, helping, fetching, carrying, doing everything a father should be doing, what I should be doing. But she hadn’t.
Her thoughts were still hard to understand but she started using pictures not only for her words but for her emotions as well. I could tell she was content but she was also impatient wanting to see her mother and father. And right now, looking at me, her picture-feeling was hope.
She wanted me to be her father.
The happiness and complete bliss that surged through me was immediately quenched by the sudden, burning guilt that reappeared once again. That tiny, innocent, loving and happy child might not have been here because of me, because I didn’t have faith in Bella, in Bella and me.
There could have been nothing to calm me down, to make me stop worrying for Bella’s safety but I could at least have been more supportive, I could have accepted the inevitable because it was indeed inevitable. How could we have lived with ourselves if this miracle of life had not happened?
My pained expression seemed to have a negative impact on Renesmee’s mood as well, for I could read her thoughts turning sadder and sadder. She scrunched up her nose and I could see tears forming in her eyes.
I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t watch those beautiful brown pools of innocence tear up. I tentatively started walking closer to her, wanting to warn her in case she didn’t want me near her.
Her tears stopped as well as I did. I watched carefully to see if she was frightened but the hope she felt before only got more intense. Slowly she stretched up her arms, opening and closing her little palms, indicating that she wanted me to hold her.
I held my breath, not because of the temptation of her blood but because I was suddenly a nervous wreck. I distinctly remembered snorting at what some fathers thought when their child was brought to life - how immature, how foolish they seemed to me. And yet here I was, nervous, scared and completely paralyzed. I finally understood why this feeling was so powerful that it proved frightening.
How far would I go to protect this tiny form of life?
Anywhere. Everywhere. Anything for her.
I started walking again, seeing as she was getting impatient, and squirming in her seat. I finally reached her and, like I was picking feather, I softly grabbed her under her arms and brought her slowly but steadily in front of my face.
I could see more clearly her features now and it surprised me how much Bella and me I could see in her. Her hair, her lips, her nose were all me but her eyes were so intense and so warm that made you forget about everything else. Exactly like Bella.
A tiny, stretched hand started to approach me slowly, unsurely. And like a feather, it finally rested upon my cheek, warmth flooding me, all of me. She didn’t fear the cold stone she was touching, she didn’t even flinch. But according to the thoughts flooding her mind she was happy. Content. Loving.
And just like that, all my torturous thoughts and feelings went away like dust in the wind. My entire being was consumed by the powerful feeling of complete adoration. My lips turned up and my eyes were definitely a lighter shade of gold for I felt my love for her radiate from my every pore. Love that matched her own towards me.
I gently brought her towards me, wanting to feel her against me. She didn’t protest, instead, she eagerly snuggled up against my cold chest like it was the most comfortable pillow. Her other hand fell upon my other cheek and suddenly I wasn’t the one invading her mind but she was. My eyes popped open and I stared wide eyed at her.
Images of sorts started passing before my eyes, like I was present when they happened. Rosalie rocking her softly to sleep, Emmett tickling her while laughing his infamous guffaw, Alice’s changing her into new clothes, Jasper’s tight but genuine smile at her…Memories that somehow she bestowed upon me in an abnormal and unknown way. And there was that memory, painful both to me and her, of Bella, dripping with blood and screaming in utter and unbearable pain. The remembrance fell upon me like a destructive missile.
I winced unconsciously and suddenly I was brought back in present, my little girl sad and worried about her mother’s fate. As was I.
And there it was, the unworthiness, the guilt, the regret for never being supportive, for not wanting my own daughter. Renesmee seemed to sense my change of mood because her focus was now on me, on my sad expression that appeared to sadden her even more.
“Forgive me,” I whispered with all the emotion a regretful and forever guilty father could master.
My eyes closed and I knew if I was capable of tears, they would be pouring unstoppably from my eyes at this moment. Never before had I felt so vulnerable, so utterly weak but before this tiny form of life that I so dearly loved yet didn’t think was worthy of.
“Forgive me,” I choked out once again for no matter how many times I said it, it wouldn’t be enough to quench the feeling of self-castigation.
Soft and warm hands were now on my neck, patting me in an almost comforting manner. I opened my eyes and was met by those strikingly beautiful, brown eyes of my daughter. My daughter.
Memories and thoughts of her once again invaded in my mind, only this time they weren’t of the past, but of the future, of what she hoped for us. Images of Bella, as well as she could remember her, next to me and between us her, Renesmee, smiling at both of us.
And then I knew.
I was forgiven.
All the guilt and regret was in the past, pain and sorrow now gone. It was of no good to stick to passed misfortunes, to bring up all that caused us only pain. There was hope, there was life, there was us.
At loss for words, I brought her little head closer to me and kissed it. Her brown eyes lifted to meet mine and the way she stared at me, with a manner expressive of knowing everything that went through my mind and heart, corroborated everything I ever wanted to know.
“I love you, baby girl,” I whispered with emotion, “more than any father has ever loved his daughter.”