When I looked into her eyes this time she was actually looking back into mine. I could tell because her little forehead wrinkled-up as if to say, “Oh wow please don’t let me inherit those cheeks.”
Her baby-smile brightened the inside of her dark pupils so that I could see my reflection and everything that I imagined she would say to me if not for her being relatively new to this life.
We stared at each other for much longer than it really seemed. And perhaps this only makes sense if you believe that time can actually stand still.
I’ve held many baby girls in my arms: as a father; an uncle; a Godfather; and a friend. But never as a grandfather. Never as the father of my child’s baby. And when someone in the room mentioned Grandpa- my eyes immediately shifted over to where my own father was sitting. But he was now the great-great grandfather and the person they were speaking about or speaking to was me.
And we were still staring at each other- me and my granddaughter. The little person that no matter what, will always be my first grandchild. She’ll be the first to sleep over. And the first to watch the Yankees and Giants games next to me with our jerseys on- eating Doritos and homemade onion dip. She’ll be the first to drag me out fishing with her Uncle Matt. She’ll be the first to get a bouquet of flowers after a dance or piano recital.
I too was the first grandchild for my own grandparents. I was their little Ronnie that helped to keep them young. I’d bet that my little Gabriella will do the same for me.
The Christmas lights on the fireplace mantle finally stole her eyes from mine. I watched the colors flashing in her stare now. Her cheek rested against my chest and she blinked once for every three blinks of the colorful bulbs.
One day- a handful of years from now, we’ll probably sit in the same spot on the couch and look at the same blinking lights while I tell her about the day that I fell in love with her.