Her hands, dainty and small, are wrapped around my neck, while she says his name. Over and over again.
Her mouth, beautiful when she smiles, is contorted in rage.
My heart, which I can toughen and open at will, is twisted and wrenched. I’m tired of listening to my six-year-old cry. Tired of knowing she is aching for a father who loves her every ounce as much as she loves him.
She should be running, flying kites, never thinking of words like war. Tanks. Guns.
She should be laughing at six-year-old jokes, playing in sand boxes, digging to China while she imagines foreign lands and make-believe trips.
She should be pushing and working her legs, pumping them over and over again while she swings back and forth, looking to the sky. “I’m in the clouds, Mommy!” she should squeal.
Instead she wails.
And I can’t stop it. Or control it. Or ignore it.
I can only respect it. Forcing myself to listen to the wails leaving her body. Praying those demons, those fears of abandonment, will not remain with her for the rest of her life.
In her six years, she has only had him for 10 straight months. Each hello is immediately followed by , “How long will he be here? When will he leave again?”
I force myself to listen.
To her agony. To her cries. To her wails.
I desperately want to stop it. Every ounce of my blood and marrow wants to calm it. Stop it. Keep it bottled rather than listen to the sorrow, the ache in her voice.
But I won’t.
Because she deserves it. She deserves to cry. To wail. To open the cork while the serpentine force creeps from her tiny frame.
She has seen too much. Felt too much. And she deserves to wail. And for me to hold her, with open arms and a quiet mouth until she can sleep again.
That is the least I can do for her.