Today I had my daughter for the first time in many months. Because of my extraordinarily high deployment rate.
I've missed her terribly. Having had her this weekend just pains me... my heart aches to have her with me always.
In a recent conversation with my mom, I unexpectedly learned something about my father. He had only seen her once -- just for a short week -- before he passed on. Mom told me -- in one of those memories recalled as much to preserve his station in our life as to illustrate a point -- that when he'd met her, he was scared. Frightened.
At first, I could scarcely believe her. My father -- the stoic and brave -- ... scared? But I remembered. I remembered, actually, being a little irritated at what seemed my parents' reluctance... the lack of an offer to take her, alone, themselves, while I bid my time in my old stomping grounds. A chance for them to bond with her. A chance for me to taste just a bit of carefree freedom.
It was forgotten.
But Mom, telling me that Dad was scared, reminded me. Evidently, he confided in her that he'd never been so intimidated in his life. This from a man that spent his entire adult life on the edge of danger protecting other people. As a Sailor. As a cop. As a correctional officer. A three year old? Scared him?
He told Mom that he was abjectly afraid of disappointing her. My Madison. Of doing or saying or not doing or not saying something that would upset her. Because she was so precious. So precocious. So loving. So goddamned smart.
It's funny, that. My dad, the Dad. Afraid of a little girl.
When my mom told me this, a part of the inside-me broke a little. Because... in time... I'm sure Dad would have grown stronger. And would have grown more comfortable with her. And would have shared the myriad... the unimaginable and unquantifiable love and wisdom... and... he would have been wrapped around her little finger, I'm sure.
Dad's gone now, of course. He'll never get the chance. Neither will she.
It's up to me, then, to fill his void.
Earlier tonight, she spoke with my Mom: "Grandma." She later told me that she hardly remembers what Grandma looks like.
Another part of me broke a little when I realized that at least Mom's around to answer the phone.
Dad? I can only hope he answers prayers.