04 November 2008

Gobsmacked By The Wee Lass

Having done my civic duty this morning by voting, I was all set to come home from work this evening, shove some groceries down my neck, and then settle in with laptop online and CNN on the tube for a full night of tracking the election returns. As the saying goes, ‘Life Is What Happens While You Are Making Other Plans.’ Life in this instance takes the form of my lovely daughter Wee Lass. The Other Plans came crashing down with the following exchange:

(Scene: living room, me on the love seat, Wee Lass cavorting on the carpet. Above me, on the wall, are two pictures. One is of my son, the other of my daughterother . They were taken on Day 3 of their stay in the NICU, three days before she died and 2-1/2 weeks before he died. I call Wee Lass over for a hug.)

Me: Hey, c’mere, can I have a hug?
Wee Lass (looking at his picture): Daddy, was that you when you were a little boy?
Me: No, sweetie, that’s a little boy named ----.
WL: Was he at the dentist?
Me: No, he was in the hospital because he was very, very sick.
WL: When I was in the hospital, I was very sick.
Me: No, dear, you were in great shape when you were in the hospital.

(Wee Lass runs into my arms)

“Daddy, I’m your first baby, your first girl, right?”

(Split second of silence as a huge lump forms in my throat)

“Yes, sweet pea, you’re my first girl.” (She hugs me tight)


She turned and ran back to her seat in front of the television, content to watch Max & Ruby and practice her ballerina twirls for me. I sat in stunned silence, biting my lip and blinking tears out of my eyes. I thought I had something important to do when I sat down on the couch, and I suppose I did. It just had nothing to do with elections or polls or interactive Internet maps.

I love language, writing and stories but they can’t convey everything I want to my daughter; I’m not sure anything can. I hope and pray that when the time comes I can make her understand who they really were, beyond just pictures on the wall and memories in my heart.

Son (left), Daughter (right). Note my wedding ring on her wrist.

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"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...