Your eyes. Usually so bright and cheerful are blurred and dreary. It is these eyes that look at me now. I return your gaze and I see confusion and exhaustion and a pleading look that says, “Daddy, make me feel better.” You see, you are sick my little one. Your mother knows more about your illness than I do, but all I see is one sick little girl who wants her Daddy to make her feel better.
I so want to make you feel better Sweetheart. In my mind, that’s what Daddies do. However, I cannot just make your awful illness go away. Instead, I smile a sad smile and I pick you up and bring you close like I’ve done a thousand times. Only this time your feverish skin is hot to my touch. Your whimpers mingle with the wheezing echoing in your chest from each short little breath you take. Your little arms wrap themselves around my neck and you hang there, in my arms, and rest. You can breath now and I can feel the never-ending flow of mucous ooze from your little nose and onto my shoulder. I don’t mind. It’s a small price to pay for your moment of rest here in your Daddy’s arms. I kiss the top of your head and I feel the heat in my lips.
After a short while I change you and take your temperature. Usually, you are very playful when you get your diaper changed. Lately, you’ve been more irritable than anything else. Today, however, you are passive. You let me clean you and give no sign that you feel the thermometer I’ve inserted. 102.4 it reads. I sigh and prepare another dose of children’s Tylenol. You take it easily and I am comforted to know your fever will subside and you’ll feel a little better.
I scoop you back up and we look at each other once again. I smile, this time bigger, and you, my little one, try gamely to smile back. It’s your nature to smile and even in sickness you give me the tiredest smile I’ve ever seen. I love you for that. And I feel so special that, even when sick, you want to give your Daddy a smile.
I can see you’re ready to sleep. I put you into your bouncy chair and gently rock you. You fight it at first. You thrash back and forth, crying a cry I have not heard before. I calm you down and you start to drift to sleep. I stay there, watching you sleep as your tear-stained face becomes motionless. Your eyelashes, while always long, look even longer when wet. You look like a very tired little angel sitting here before me. At last, your little body rests. I continue to rock the chair and gaze at the most beautiful girl in the world. Every now and then you open your eyes and glance at me, as if making sure I’m still there. Once reassured, you drift off to sleep again.
Don’t worry little Swee’Pea. Your Daddy isn’t going anywhere.
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