Why, Daddy, Why?
"Daddy, when will we see you again?" Barbara asked in a quiet yet anxious voice.
"Sweetheart, I promise, you’ll see me again."
But Daddy, you’re…you’re gone. Mommy said so."
Taking a deep breath, Jeffrey closed his eyes tightly trying to stop the pain from swallowing him whole. "Debbie, I’m not gone, okay? You understand that, right?"
"Um, yeah, I guess."
"Honey, Barbara, I love you with all my heart. And Deborah, too. You both are my precious angels."
"But why, Daddy, why did you have to go way across the world? Mommy says you don’t…."
"Barbara, listen to me. I need to do something really important right now, something that needs to be fixed and made better. You know, like when Deborah took your unicorn statue and broke it. And I told her that was wrong to do and to apologize to you, you remember, right?"
"Uh-huh. She said ‘I’m sorry.’"
"Well," Jeffrey paused, glancing around the bedroom until his eyes caught sight of his clothes, "I need to do that, too. I need to apologize to someone I hurt, someone who…."
"Mommy says bad things about that woman, Daddy. Is that where you are, with her? Why, Daddy, why? Is Mommy right about this other woman?"
God, he thought, how do I explain this entire situation, this mess, to an eight year old without confusing her, hurting her further? "Barbara, this is a very complex, um, difficult situation. I promise, sweetheart, I have never, nor will I ever, stop loving you and Debbie no matter where I am, no matter who I am with. I’m coming back to the States in a couple of weeks, okay? And if it’s okay with your mother, I’d like to spend some time with my two special girls. How’s that sound? We can talk and I promise I’ll answer all your questions."
Jeffrey sighed. Was he being selfish, as Liane had accused him, of putting his needs and wants before everyone else? He loved Meggie deeply and wanted to start a new life with her. But at the same time, he loved his children and did not want them feeling abandoned or denied of a father. Damn Liane, if she can’t be happy, nobody can.
"Daddy? Daddy, you still there?" Barbara asked nervously.
"Yes, sweetheart, yes I’m right here. I need you to watch over your sister, okay? Can you do that for me? Make sure the Nebulizer is beside her bed where she can get to it if she has an asthma attack. Okay? You can do that, can’t you?"
"Yes, yes Daddy. She still tries to take my Pooh bear though."
The comment brought a small smile to his face. "Well, you just tell her what I did, that the mast cells don’t want her to breathe Pooh’s dust. And that everything will be okay once her lungs, the branches, get the medicine she needs."
"Sure, Daddy. Um, Mommy is telling me to hang up now. Debbie says ‘I love you, Daddy.’ And I love you too."
"Barbara, wait. Can you put your mother on the phone for a moment?"
"Bye Daddy. Have to go. Mommy is calling me."
And then the line went dead, silence floating in the air, sucking out any rays of hope and love.
"I love you too, Barbara. Both of you," he finally said before hanging up. He walked towards the stairways and glanced down into the living room area. Meggie was unpacking a few things from her cardboard boxes and stopped when she saw him out of the corner of her eyes. Standing up, she brushed her hair back and smiled. "How did it go? How are the girls, Jeffrey?"
Jeffrey started to speak, but found his mouth unable to form any words to answer her question. Meggie rushed up the stairs and wrapped her arms around him. "I’m so sorry, Jeffrey. I’m so sorry," she whispered over and over in his ear.
Why, Daddy, why? He could still hear that tiny voice inside his head.