ONE, TWO: For My Daughters


I feel stretched, tall and tenuous, and think my bones will crumble beneath me. My consciousness hovers above my right shoulder but my body freezes upright over the sterile tile. It’s not the first time I’ve split in two.

“Breathe: one, two.”

“One more!”

“Here she…”

Stiff and sleepy-eyed, I reflect on the nameless souls before her whose count remained at zero, who never had a chance to count at all, and in doing so, count my blessings as well as my fears.

“…two! Beautiful!”

“Hello there!”

As before, anxiety reigns. I’m trapped in a kaleidoscopic temporal-loop that arbitrarily erases the consequential narratives from my life and replaces memory with erratic, meaningless still-frames. It’s disorienting, even at a time when I’m dumbstruck by the power of each weighted breath filling the room. I can see them. I try to count each one but the rattles and beeps and screams stall my progression along the number line.

One, two.

“One, two! Perfect!”

For the past one-hundred sixty-two days, I’ve romanticized this moment. I’ve wondered what would happen to me upon its arrival, whether I could process the depth of emotions or would instead fail to conjure due solemnity. Now, with a third scaffold of comprehension erected before me, I see an entirely separate timeline. A maddening, peripheral perception of immortality. With dry lips and churning stomach, I smother myself with this insight, the sacred profundity of Time sprayed furiously into existence, and in this violent collision of truths, I see silence and hear colors. I lay every heartbeat and inhalation of breath from here to eternity at her feet: a willing sacrifice that will never cease to justify its price. Furthermore, I sense an ultimate Reality beyond my fleeting glimpse of the Divine Incarnate, but for some reason, all I can think about is counting. Actualizing. Naming. Perhaps the most menial task one can consciously undertake. The first thing I learned in school and—according to the Gospels—the way to usurp power from your demons.

One, two.

I want to know what she’s thinking. I want to know where she’s been. I want to know what she needs from me and how best to unleash her on the cosmos. Yet, more than anything, I want to hear those numbers in my head.

One, two.

For now, we toil. Yet, if Freud is right, none so much as you.

The light above is blinding and its migraine-glare unnerves me. It pries between collapsed layers of consciousness I’d rather leave unturned. I can think of only two experiences that carry this potency of cosmic, spiritual electricity. This terror, tempered by hope.

“You did it!”

Panicked, I count at random but have already forgotten the sequence, simple though it seems. Fibonacci 1 1 2 3 5. The story of us. Except, of course, the dog. It makes sense that the only duplicate is 1 because that was the hardest hill to climb. The least probable, really, even if doesn’t seem so now.


One, two hands hold up one leg beneath the knee.

One, two beads of sweat trickle down my ribcage.

One, two tears on cheekbones beneath the glare.

One, two.

I want to know whether she’ll like dancing or hockey or prog-metal. I want to know if she’ll have an opinion on the sanctity of Thomas Merton, whether we can separate our sins from our true selves. I want to know if she’ll love me and I wonder if she already knows. I’ve read that an infant’s heart can recognize the electromagnetic signals of her parents from one-hundred feet. She’s had nine months to get used to mine, feeble as it is. I wonder what she will want to know about us. I wonder if she will be depressed.

One, two joined hands. Two shoes on two feet. Five people in the room. One, two, plus three, becoming five in a greater Room where our souls commune. Six, lest we forget the dog, but that ruins the Fibonacci metaphor.

All with a count of one, two.

“Hold her!”

I didn’t expect to be pre-occupied by the notion of a metaphysical gateway. I feel the terrible, transformer buzz of the Divine in the room and am acutely aware of my sins, of all my predilections and how they spiritually neuter me. It’s enough to drive one mad. I know now, more than ever before, that I am woefully unworthy of answers. I shouldn’t even be in this room. I don’t deserve to hear that lonely number announce its arrival as we wither in anticipation of its partner. And it is, after all, a cosmic marriage. A nebulous connection for anyone outside Us, but the foundation of Truth for you and me. One, joining two, becoming five. Or six, counting the dog.

One, two.

My eyes at last stretch wide, my jaw locks, my hands shake. Paresthesia again: the last thing I need. I don’t trust myself enough to hold you but I do have a fleeting power to dissociate my consciousness from my soul, to bury my iniquities in this spiraling chaos and embrace the rhythm of nature, the waltzing sway of one generation into the next.

One, two.

I would give anything to grasp this peace and rightly should savor every drop, but that’s the odd thing about catapulting beyond your Self with irrepressible joy, clarity, and purpose simultaneously. It’s an absurdity. The only times you are freed from the fetters of pride are when you have been humbled too low to quantify the revelation. Your personal apocalypse—the great unveiling—takes a backseat to the unbearable beacon of life emerging from the womb, and I know before her eyes open that I would die for her. I am Abraham relenting to Kierkegaard’s Universal rather than the Absurd because I am both the best and worst offering I’m willing to part with. The nurse finds me equally useless.

All I can do is count, even if I don’t.

One, two.

And suddenly, as though the numbers themselves have banished my interior life, I see our bond incarnate as tachyon particles flooding back through time from the Omega Point. It’s as though our deaths already occurred and I can intuit the future as memory, like Philip K Dick did with his son’s hernia.

I see her.I see us.

I count the number of hugs on sunny days, and teardrops, too. I count spirited rebellions, dark nights of the soul, and emboldening catharsis on her path away from me. I count shared heartbreak, I count the weight of the world, I count wasted meals and scraped knees and lullabies.

“She’s beautiful!”

I count the smile on her mother’s lips and extrapolate the number over an x-axis of years.

I wonder where she’ll find her peace and count on it being where it ought to be.

One, two.

And then I gaze upon the smiling eyes of the creation font herself, her teeth braced in a perplexing delirium equal parts agony and elation, too magnificent for these blurred cones and rods in any case, and I count two souls welcoming the physical manifestation of their love. I count ten fingers and ten toes. I count blessed responsibilities. I count my reasons to live. Time picks up again and I count her exhalations.

One, two.

I pray silently that she will be safe. I pray that I will guide her with a sincere, humble heart. But mostly, I pray to hear that beat: one, two. The most beautiful mystery in the universe.

One, two.

I hold my breath until it registers. I strain my ears and tilt my head.

Then, it comes.

Thump, thump.

One, two, six.

She’s home, and so am I.