|Alicia (held by Mario) at three months old - Big Trees State Park|
My daughter was born at 4:45 after I had been in labor for thirty two hours. I was worn out and exhausted and instantly exhilarated after I found out my new baby was a girl.
“A girl? A girl?” I shouted in disbelief. “We have a girl? Oh, Mario! Oh, Mario!”
Mario had recorded the whole thing and I can still hear the tapes of my joy, interrupted by her first cry.
It was yesterday; twenty-seven years ago.
Alicia was our girl; she came after three boys. Mario had David and Joe when we married and I had Vince. We blended our family together and sealed it with a collaborative effort: our new baby girl.
The years ahead were a whirlwind of activity. In true “baby sister” fashion, Alicia grew up with boys and kept up with them. She was a girly-tomboy, more athletic than anything else. We homeschooled for eight years and I enjoyed each step of the way; it was over before I knew it. Once she started school, she was a blur of activity and passion that either burst with joy and sunshine or raged with discontent.
She jumped into life and devoured it. School. Basketball. Graduation. Africa. Alicia came home, fell in love and told us she wasn't coming back with us. It all went so fast that I was left fluttering my arms and wondering where my little daughter went.
“How is Alicia?” someone will ask me, expecting a five second answer to an hour long question. I smile and tell them about her children, her two daughters that her life revolves around. I talk about her business, of which she is sole proprietor.
In reality, my heart moves like an ocean at the very mention of her name.
My daughter has never been easy to describe, which is hell for a writer. I have always seen her as having two contrasting personalities: one yearning for fulfillment, the other soaring toward the sky. Her smile lights up the room; her sorrow concerns everyone around her. She is a thunderstorm over the Great Rift Valley; a rainstorm in the middle of the Amazon. She is lightning and diamonds and tears cried out loud at a full moon. My daughter is more than all of the words in my heart, and I have an incredible, inexpressible love for her.