It’s play time on the bed. Me and my sister are hiding under the covers, trying not to breathe. To make a single sound. Thinking we can hide from Daddy. Our hearts are racing with excitement.
The smell of mom’s perfume on the sheets is comforting and strong.
We feel SAFE. We feel LOVED.
All of sudden we hear Daddy’s footsteps coming from around the bed. We squeal with laughter. How did he find us?
Daddy is the best.
Playtime is our favorite time before bed. Wrestling, tickle wars. We are gasping for air from laughter. Faces red.
It’s bedtime now. Me and my sister fight over whose in the middle. Who gets to sleep next to Daddy tonight. We hug him tight, finish our bedtime story and sing….
“Now it’s time to go to sleep S-L-E-E-P spells sleep goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite….goodnight.”
It is reflecting on those moments that get me through the dark ones. Right now I’m sitting in a stale, frigid hospital waiting room.
We are nothing but a number.
Mama’s eyebrows are frowned. Eyes look drained. It’s 3 a.m. and they’re telling us there’s “no room” for Daddy here.
We cry to the social worker… “Do you understand us?”
No. They don’t.
We are exhausted, empty. Young children explaining medical terms we barely comprehend. Daddy has been sick lately.
He told us this would happen.
We look into his eyes and it’s as if we are looking into a strangers. We just want Daddy back. We beg to the nurses to take him in. To fix Daddy.
We miss play time, we miss laughs.
I close my eyes, drained from long nights watching over him. Babysitting. Making sure he didn’t leave the house. We don’t want people starring at Daddy. Thinking he’s crazy…
We need to protect him. Like he protected us.
Mama promises us it will all be over soon. But just for now. She looks us in the eyes and tells us to be STRONG. To not be AFRAID . We look back at her wondering how she ever did this without us.
I close my eyes after finally getting home. They finally took him in. I go to lay down in my room. Picture myself back in my Daddy’s arms. Listening to bed time stories. drifting asleep…
Daddy has been away now for almost a month now. We visit him, but sometimes it’s scary. He’s NEVER scary. But it’s a frightening place. Honestly, it’s a nice break for Mom. But we miss him home.
Family and friends are starting to wonder.We are good at making up stories, excuses. No matter what…we protect our Daddy.
His ideas are less GRAND. His eyes are becoming more recognizable. Finally he can come home.
We re-set the clock for ‘the next time’ – it’s only a matter of time. Days and years pass. Routine continues.
Check his pills. Look deep into his eyes. Is Daddy still there?
I’m older now, so this time I’m more prepared. I know how this works. This damn system ONCE AGAIN denying him a bed. Is he suicidal? NO. But he is sick. How can you deny care?
Why can’t you help my Dad? I want to SCREAM.
We continue to fight this battle, this routine of life. But whenever we end up in the same damn frigged room, fighting to protect our Daddy…I take myself back to my happy place. Where Daddy is just Daddy. Where life is normal.
And I rest my head on my Mama’s lap, close my eyes and repeat..
“Now it’s time to go to sleep. S-L-E-E-P spells sleep goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite…goodnight.“——
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