Daddy’s Princess

The cooler, shorter sunny days are reminiscent of that fall. We finish up yard work and my daughter joins me on the screened porch where we hear the whine of the rescue squad’s siren echoing down the long steep hill to our house, preempting its arrival. We watch as it turns onto the road that runs beside our house. As the vehicle comes to a stop to the side of our house, close to where I imagine it must have been that day, the siren ceases.

I feel her tension and I am very uncomfortable too. We seem to sense what is going through each others minds but do not acknowledge it to one another and open that door. She wonders out loud why it is there, stopped where it is, and I see she is uneasy. My daughter comments on the increase in sirens lately, saying she notices them everywhere. I note they are the same as usual in my opinion and think quietly her awareness indicates she is beginning to remember.

She suggests I go see what is going on but I am anchored where I sit, fixated on my neighbor’s yard where I dropped almost four years ago to the day. I dismiss the presence, directly across from the scene. Perhaps they are tending to an elderly neighbor, though I don’t understand why they would be stopped where they are if that was the case.

After ten minutes the ambulance ambles down the side road and turns directly onto our street, moving slowly along our property line and past our driveway. It unnerves me and I am not emotionally composed enough to interpret her demeanor.

I don’t know how to talk about the day of the shooting to her or what to say. Perhaps I don’t approach it as I don’t want absolute confirmation of what the initial police report indicates is true. My close friend suggests until my daughter revisits that day and is guided through it she will be unable to fully heal.

We are at a crossroads, a juncture, where once again I must choose between the fantasy my daughter has created about her father and risking her further instability by exposing who he was. A conversation that should never have to happen, yet I am left to decide whether to remind her of the truth, and how much of that truth to tell. My slow acceptance that it was intended for all of us makes me want to protect her more because even I can’t bear that truth.

Later in the evening, a rare night when both children are spending the night out, I hang clothes in the closet and notice my box of sadness which resides on a high shelf above. In it I have compiled all the news clippings, forensic pictures of my wounds, the emails between him and me, and my therapist and me that last summer, the police reports, the search warrant, the surgeon’s report, the pictures of me. I can’t stop myself from taking it down. Sitting on the bed, I open it. I take out and read each item.

Going through the box, which I initially began for the children when they are older and have questions or need to know more, I am taken back to that day from the viewpoint of others who responded to the 911 call. Despite the indisputable clear evidence of the shooting, my daughter has needed to believe a made up world to accommodate the part of her that is her father.

I have stayed quiet and let her draw her own conclusions but I now find I am living the life I lead before, in hiding, in secret, covering up details from the children while watching her slip from me in a blur of depression and PTSD. It feels like a no win situation. I have come too far, fought too hard for a better life for them to perpetuate the sugar coating of our former life. As we embark on yet another new journey, once again I have only faith to sustain me that it is the right path, to take her back to that day so she can move forward.

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