A few nights before Christmas, at about 3:30 in the morning, I woke up to a very faint noise. I got out of bed and went into Alyssa's room. She was quietly crying. I bent down to her and whispered to her "Alyssa, what's wrong?" and she whispered back in a very faint, sad, wimpering voice:
"I want daddy to come back".
My heart has been broken several times even since Joe died and I rarely write those incidents down here because they are too painful. But this was one of those times. I could have laid down next to her and cried with her as if I was also 4 years old. What was so strikingly sad to me was that she was not calling out to me in the night, I had heard her pretty much by chance. Here she was laying in her bed, quietly crying for her father in the middle of the night alone. Just like I do.
Her wish is so simple and easy to put into words. Mine seems complex and lengthy and hard to figure out and explain. But we both want the same thing. We want him back.
"Daddy loves you Alyssa, just as much as you love him. He would never want to leave you and he misses you the way you miss him. Daddy loves you Alyssa".
That is what I said to her. Every time those words come out of my mouth they seem inadequate. It is all that I can tell them. As a parent you want to be able to solve your children's problems; to give them real answers and take their pain away. Yet I can't and I struggle with the enormity of the questions they have and the answers that I don't have.
This all leaves me mentally tortured. I am sad at the whole situation but I feel angry too. I feel angry that Joe left me with all of this. To raise our children alone. I am left trying to piece together 3 shattered futures and answer questions about God and heaven and the accident and on and on. My children have questions that no one has answers to. I am left to tell them that their father's body is in the ground and try to figure out how that will affect them. I have not told them that yet. They assume that Joe's body is in heaven the same way that he was here, and I have not corrected them. How could I have been left with these things to tell them? I feel that it's not fair to leave me with all of this. I feel unprepared and unable. Ill-equipped and unsure. And I wait, hoping that some day I'll have the words and the time will be right. But it's all a gamble of timing and information that rests on two sets of small shoulders. I pray that their minds will be open and their lives are not shaped by the pain, but that they see it as an awful event that happened in their otherwise happy and fulfilled lives.
"Go back to sleep Alyssa. Dream about Santa and how much fun we'll have in the snow tomorrow" I said, not in an effort to minimize her feelings, but because I know all too well that sometimes your only option is to purposely change your thoughts to something else. She closed her eyes and I walked out of the room. As I walked back to my room I counted the words on my fingers "I-want-daddy-to-come-back". Six words. Six words from my daughter that I never thought I would hear. Six words with the crushing weight of a thousand painful thoughts.