November 15, 2003
Hello baby girl,
Welcome to this world, my girl. Happy birthday. You’re lying here beside me, six hours old this very minute, and God, you’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen -- wrinkled head, red face and all. I held you the second you were born, swear. So hard, baby, and I promised I was never gonna let go. I just, I wanted you to know that.
You’re laying here beside me right now, your little head nestled against my side like you know me. Like you believe I’ll protect you and love you, always and always. Like you know I’d walk through fire to keep you safe. I’d give anything -- everything -- to make sure you know that forever.
There’s a tiny place on the back of your head I can’t stop running my fingers over. Your hair does this little curly-q thing; your brother’s did that too, when he was a baby. Only I missed my chance with him, to trace it, learn it with my fingers. That’s a long story and one you don’t get ‘til later, if ever. All you need to know is you’ve got your brother’s hair. You’ve got your daddy’s eyes.
Damn. I didn’t mean to write that. This letter wasn’t supposed to be about your daddy. Or maybe it is. Maybe that’s the only thing it can be about. I don’t want to write that letter. I don’t know how to write that letter.
But maybe that’s the letter you deserve to have, on your birthday.
‘Cause I’m never gonna lie to you, baby girl. I’m never gonna hide behind what someone else tells me you should know or be. I’m never gonna hide anything from you, period. And, I’m never gonna teach you to hide either. That, I promise. That, I swear. So, I’m not gonna hide who your daddy was, what he was. Or how hard he loved you. Or why he isn’t here to tell all that himself. I’m going to tell you the truth, and I’m gonna tell you all of it. But, to do that, I have to go back to the beginning.
Back six months ago when I knocked on your Uncle Jason’s door in the rain.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been there, pregnant, wet, on Jason’s doorstep. That’s your brother’s story, though, not yours. And, it doesn’t matter now. All you’ve gotta know is that he opened the door and let us in. He always does.
Jason looked at me, that night, holding Michael in my arms and shivering with something that wasn’t cold. “What happened.” It wasn’t a question.
I shifted Michael to my other shoulder, and his arms wound even more tightly around my neck. He made a small noise in his sleep, and I pressed my lips against his neck. “You gonna help me, Jase?”
He just looked at me, then opened the door wider. “You gotta ask?”
I didn’t. I never did, not with Jason. We walked in, the three of us. You inside of me, Michael in my arms -- we walked in. I’m never gonna stop being sorry for that ‘til the day I die. I’m never not gonna think it was the smartest thing I ever did, either. Sometimes in life, baby girl, you gotta make choices. No one ever promised any of ‘em were gonna be ones you could actually live with. I looked at Jason as he shut the door behind us and just said it. “I have to leave town now, tonight. Will you take me?”
He stared at me a long moment with those blue eyes I’ve never been able to read, not all the way. Still without speaking, he reached out towards me and started to take Michael from my arms. My arms tightened around my son, and Jason looked at me. “Carly. I’m gonna put him in my room so we can talk. That’s all.”
Slowly, I let go of Michael. Watched him every second ‘til Jason disappeared up the stairs then sank down on the couch. He wasn’t gone long.
“What happened to Michael’s arm?” Jason sat beside me.
“Sonny. Sonny Corinthos happened.” I could feel the scream building up in the back of my throat, and I choked it down, hard. For your sake, for your brother’s, for mine. I had to do this without going crazy. I pressed my palms against my stomach, felt you under my fingertips. That gave me strength, baby girl. First gift of many. “And, it’s not gonna happen again, not ever. So, I’ll ask you one more time, Jase. You gonna help me or not?”
Jase held out a hand and grasped my arm, not ungently. “Carly, wait.” Looking at him, I could see his eyes harden; I could watch him turn into the killer that was, still, the biggest part of who he was. “You telling me that Sonny put that cut on his arm?”
“Yes. No. Sort of.” I took a breath and tried to make it come out clear. “Michael had a tantrum; he put his hand through a picture frame. He thought that was an okay way to express his anger ‘cause he’d seen Sonny do it. My son has five stitches in his arm because my husband taught him that that was okay!”
Jason shook his head. “Carly, I don’t get how this means you have to leave town. Sonny gets mad, he breaks stuff.” He shrugged. “What does that have to do with--”
“Jason.” Turning, I desperately grasped at his shoulders. I overbalanced turning so quickly, and Jase reached out, holding me steady. He was always really good at that. I never let of him; I made him face me. “Jase, listen to me. You remember that day I stayed with Sonny when he destroyed the penthouse? You remember how scared I was, how dark and sad Sonny was?” Jason nodded, slowly. I reached up, rested my palm against his cheek. “Do you want Michael to grow up to be that? Do you want that for our son?” You use the weapons you have to when you’re fighting for what matters most.
“No, Jason! No.” I dropped my hands and sat back, hard. “My son put his hand through a glass picture frame. He put his hand through a glass picture frame. Not two days ago, he was on the ground, covered by my body while a car bomb exploded in front of his eyes. And, I stood there in the hospital and made excuses for the life that we lead and for the man I chose to father my children, and it was like something was breaking all around me. Like this glass bowl I’ve been livin’ in shattered, and all I could feel was this black fear. For my child. For my,” I touched you again, “children. I love him more than I ever knew I could love anyone, and I have to leave him. I have to leave him now before I forget why it matters so much. Jason. This is the last time I’m gonna ask.” I looked at him. “Will. You. Help. Me?”
He looked at me back. “Yes.”
Yes. That was all, but from your Uncle Jason, baby, that’s more than most people mean when they promise you the entire world. We left town that night, your brother, you, me and Jase. Jason brought us here to this little town by the sea; he stayed and helped find us the house that’s gonna be your home; he made sure we were safe. We were, we are, we three. Safe and strong together. And he kissed us once and went home to his life. But, it was too late by then. Far, far, far too late.
See, we were gone and Jason was gone and your daddy-- Oh, baby girl, I loved him, love him, more than I know words to tell you. But, there’s a big part of me that hopes that all you got from Sonny is your eyes. Sonny had this way of focusing on a thing so that it was all he could see. No matter what was actually in front of him, Sonny saw what he wanted he see. Or, what he didn’t, which I guess is the point. He saw what he believed was real, and he made it that way.
I don’t know what he convinced himself of this time. It doesn’t really matter. We were gone, both of us, and Jason and I are the only people alive who I’ve ever known could make him see clear, even for a little while. But, then, I guess we were the reason he wasn’t, this time.
He died, baby. God, that looks so harsh, but I don’t know how else to write it. He got himself into a bad, dark place, and there was an argument and a gun and a man named Ric, and he died. Your daddy with the darkest eyes I’ve ever known breathed his last breath, and I wasn’t there to hear it. ...in sickness and health...
This wasn’t the letter I meant to write. I wanted to wish you happy birthday and tell you how loved you are, how wanted. I should have known better. I never met a plan I couldn’t screw up.
I’m gonna stop writing now. I’m gonna fold this letter and put it far, far away ‘til you’re old enough to read it. 18, 25, never. Then, I’m gonna hold you until you wake up. Oh, baby girl, I’m gonna want to hold you forever.
Happy birthday, gorgeous. Welcome home. Welcome here. I love you -- Mama