August 2010. My life is a mess. My marriage is going down the proverbial drain. I’m totally fed up with my work. My wife’s company is struggling and sucking more money than it’s bringing. Mom’s dying of cancer. Cigarettes.
All of this is reflected on me. I’m turning 39, but I feel and look 45. No sense of a future. No way out. September comes along and mamãe passes on. This moment of intense grief bring me and my wife close together. The closest we’ve been in more than a while. For a while …
Life goes on in that funny way it has of just, going on. The pain is always there. Not so intense now, but a dull, hollow pain nonetheless.
Middle of October. October 12 in fact. Children’s Day in Brazil. My wife brings home a little package. In it, baby’s clothes. It’s her way of breaking the news. Such a bittersweet moment. My first child. I’ll be almost 40 when he or she comes.
Mom’s passing give us a sort of break. With some money she left, my wife builds her nest. I can’t help but think the money should be spent on other things. The arguing comes back. Unhappiness.
The months go on and my wife gets bigger. She no longer has the energy to keep such a close eye on the company and as we say in Brazil, é o olho do dono que engorda o porco. The hired help turns out to be a big disappointment. More money evaporates.
I dream of our baby. My wife insists it’s a girl. I suggest a name and she falls for it. One week before the ultrasound exam, I dream of a boy. The exam confirms my dream. Dear Lord, we start fighting about a name. The names she suggests I viscerally hate. And vice-versa.
Again I dream of our baby. In it, he says, “Hi papai. My name is Daniel.” She loves it. I like to think our boy chose his own name.
June 12, 2011. Valentine’s Day in Brazil. Um anjo cai do céu. Daniel is with us. A beautiful, healthy child. The new mom, my wife goes back to work a week after he’s born. God helped us here. In spite of the fact that Daniel is the postcard of babyhood, the sleeplessness, the added pressures of that little life placed in our trust, makes us realize that something has got to give. And so it does.
We reach the conclusion that we must close the company. My shiny, black Sandero must go to pay off at least part of the debts. It goes on August 11, the day I turned 40 and I do what all loser sons do at such times, I take Dad’s car.
August 1st, 2012. I’m turning 41 in ten days and we celebrate Daniel’s first birthday. Have got to hand it to my wife. She realized a miracle with the little money I made available for the party. I’m disturbed throughout the party, however. Something more has got to give. Looking at Daniel’s face at the party. The sweets, the guests. Looking at my wife. She’s happy and proud, but so tired. So tired. I died a thousands deaths that night looking at my wife and my son.
From out of the blue, a plan begins to take form is the nether regions of my mind. Somehow, I feel it coming all through the party. When the party ends, I have a plan.
I break the news the next day to my wife. It involves quitting my job. She gets angry. She screams at me and I shout back. One week she doesn’t talk to me. When I pressure her she says she’s considering her options. Divorce is brought out. I despair to think of my Dandan, fatherless.
Eventually she cools down. We talk again. Like grown-ups thankfully. She helps me perfect my plan. She makes it better. I feel very grateful to have her.
Now, six months later, we sold the old apartment, bought a new one. I’m unemployed. I look out the window and see part of our plan parked out there on the street. A shiny, red, seven, soon to be eight, year old Ford Ka.
2013 is looking better than ever.
To be continued in Parte Dois: