Nick’s daughter Ellie spent Christmas in the hospital. We’re not sure why: a bad cold, an infection, a euphemism… All our communication is filtered and vetted through lawyers, as if love and caring were airborne and dangerous. Ellie and Evie live with a stranger/relative in a place where nightfall comes at four o’clock in the afternoon. The happy times with their father are crated haphazardly like broken plates; their memories hang like coats made of dead animals in cold storage.
Nick died three months ago on a Sunday. He had been sober for six months. Ellie and I were talking about him the other day and she got upset with me because the brute force of my truthfulness was too much for her. She said, “I want you to be honest with me, but I want 13 year old honest. Maybe I am not good at knowing Dad’s faults. I think that’s why he told you stuff and not me. My dad is not ever coming back. In my mind he is amazing and I don’t want to think anything else…”
Sometimes the 13 year old truth is what I want too. I want to believe that as bad as things have been for Nick’s girls, as much as the rug has been pulled out from under their dreams, they are in a place that is amazing, and nurturing and filled with kindness. I want to believe there is a swing in the backyard; a room with a skylight to examine God’s heavens; books and a white board filled with calculations and plays being performed. I want to believe that the parents who lived on this earth and loved them, are remembered every day with stories that bring smiles to their faces.
I want the 13 year old truth, because I don’t want to imagine the unfairness of anything else…