Friday, July 20, 2007

Daughters

My MadisonKelsey Briggs

My mind has been swimming with thoughts of my daughter. I miss her. And I'm so afraid.

Somehow, three unrelated events have set me ill at ease.

First, I recently exchanged emails with my ex-wife:
Justin,
Just wanted to go over a few things with you regarding Madison. First of all, she absolutely loved the letter you sent her so maybe in the future you could send her one every now and then. Secondly, my parents leave in 2 weeks and she's taking it very hard. She's had a bit of an attitude problem lately, but her therapist seems to think it's all the changes that are happening around her and the absence of you. I'm trying to be very patient with her because I know she is extremely upset about everything. She misses you terribly and cannot wait for you to come home, but she is also afraid of having to stay with you so we're basically at square one again with her. Do you know when you might be home? Other than that, things are fine. She's having a great time at camp. Talk to you soon.

N.
N,

Thank you for letting me know about how things are going, especially with Madison. I'm very sorry, for all of us, that your parents are leaving so soon. We both know that it will be an amazingly difficult transition for Madison.

That being said, I'm sure we can deal with it. Perhaps it makes you angry (but I hope not) to see me write we can deal with it , but never for a moment have I thought that I could be half the parent I am without you. Not even close. We have been through a lot -- each of us, independently, and certainly as a family. Even still, as a family. I hope you understand what I mean.

Nonetheless, we've done alright. You've done unbelievably . It will be a series of challenges with Madison in the coming months, but no more difficult or terribly different from the challenges that she faced when we split up, or when the relationships among you, me and S were so strained.

In case you haven't heard it in a while, N, I believe you are the best mother I could have ever hoped for. Sincerely.

As it is, I'm not sure when I'll make it home. I'm currently waiting for my relief -- he's been delayed for some unknown reason. I may be out of here anytime between now and in a couple of weeks. As sure as I know something, of course, I will immediately let you know.

I'm sorry.

~Justin

p.s. Please give Madison her Daddy's love. Did she get the email I sent you about the cheetahs?

Second, a fellow blogger is struggling to keep her head above water in a situation very similar to one I've experienced myself. A new city. New job. Failed marriage. Separation from her daughter. A tenuous new relationship. She's been very open in her blog -- her journal, really -- as she makes efforts at coming to grips with everything that has happened. And I was saddened, somewhat, to read comments that absolutely lacked any sense of empathy.

In my professional circles, those that know I blog have asked "why?" countless times... a question to which I've developed a rote reply: it is the equivalent of a diary. Or a journal, if you prefer the more "masculine" sense. Nonetheless, it is on occasions such as reading spiteful and accusatory posts or comments that I re-join my old-person-pre-interwebs-world and consider this whole thing a silly exercise in self-aggrandizement... and of little real use in reflecting on ourselves and others. *shrug*

Third, I was introduced to the story of Kelsey Briggs, linked from ALa at Blonde Sagacity. I went in search of additional information, and I found a news article, and later, a web site that her grandparents created. I am crying as I write this...

I have two tabs open: this blog editor and Kelsey's Purpose. That poor little girl. Inside me I can feel a flicker of shame. Shame for tying this girl's life (and death) to my own feelings for my healthy and loved and cared-for daughter, and shame for the inexplicable sense that I am trivializing it all by writing a goddamned blog about it. And shame for being so wispy and woe-is-me and even offering sympathetic encouragement to Other Deployed Dads when, frankly, we have it pretty damned good.

Our ex-wives haven't married someone who is engaged in raping our baby daughters to death.

I have faith. I have such love for this world. But sometimes I feel like I am forcibly deluding myself. God, this world can be horrible. I love that little girl, and I never knew about her until her ignominious death brought her to the forefront of fucking political blogs. How shallow I seem -- how we all seem.

And yet... here I am in the business of war. One might think that I'd be numb to such things. As appalling as the idea of a pilot's corpse being dragged through Mogadishu is, or some bearded asshat in Kandahar strapping-on a really heavy vest and walking through a base checkpoint... these things don't generally faze me. Not like the truth of what people will do to their own children.

I need to go home.
My name is Kelsey, I'm only two.
I'm way too young to know right from wrong, I can barely sing a children's song.
When you hurt me, why can't you see, I don't understand, I'm not even three.
I try to walk: "Can't!"
My little body's black and blue and now you have taken my family too.
I love my daddy and he loves me, Grandma, PaPa, where can you be?
I don't forget, I think of you and when I'm hurt, your love shines through.
It's dark in here, I can't go on.... No! Wait! There's light, an angel's song.
I feel God's hand lift me away, he has the perfect place to play.
I know you hurt, I see your tears, but only God knows why I'm here.
Daddy, I'm okay, my body's new and I will never, ever forget you.
My name was Kelsey.

Connie Mathews
Kelsey's great-aunt

3 comments:

startingtoday said...

I just read your post, with only a few seconds to comment (on my waut to the airport). I'll write more when I have a few seconds..

I will be thinking about you in the next few days. A stroke of luck has come my way in the form of free airlines tickets from Southwest (since I've flown so many times recently.)

I'm heading for three days to see my daughter!

I will MOST CERTAINLY be thinking about you and your daughter.. Just keep moving along.. you will see her before you know it...

I'll be thinking about you.

inowpronounceyou said...

I root for you everyday, J. Every damn day.

mm said...

I love the way your interact with your ex. With your mutual healthy attitude and teamwork, your daughter is going to be just fine. Amazing, seriously.

Kelsey's story is so unbelievably sad. My heart goes out to the mother and the whole family. It takes a really sick and cowardly person to do that to an innocent child.