Togetherness In Our Apartness

“He hugged and kissed his little girl and hugged his wife, the little girl’s Mother. They both hid most of their tears for the little girl’s sake, but had to show some so she would understand how hard it is on her Mommy and Daddy too and that it’s okay to cry.”

Picture in your mind’s eye, a 4 year old blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl. Her blond hair she got from her Mommy and her blue eyes from her Daddy. Her hair is usually in Pony Tails, because that’s her Daddy’s favorite way that she wears it.

Bedtime has always been a very special time for her and her Daddy. It was her “Daddy Time” and his “Baby Girl Time”. It was time set aside just for the two of them.

Every night, her Daddy would put her to bed, tuck her in and read her a story. Her favorite was “Because Your Daddy Loves You” by Andrew Clements and illustrated by R.W. Alley. Sometimes she would pick out a different book, but most of the time it was her favorite book that she asked her Daddy to read to her.

It was very special because her Daddy made up voices for the different people in the book. He made the sounds of the ocean, the seagulls and other birds and anything else he read to her.

Now, again in your mind’s eye, picture that 4 year old, blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl, with her Mommy and Daddy at the airport. Her Daddy is in the military and he has to go Iraq to help people who cannot help themselves. Her Daddy had told her about it a while ago. While she was very proud of her Daddy for helping people, he always told her to help in any way you can, she did not like the idea of her Daddy going away, even for a little while. (Even 1 day is too long for this little girl, but she knew she must let him go.) He promised he would be back as soon as he can, and he would write her letters and call her whenever he had the chance to.

He was getting ready to board his plane and turned around to say good-bye and the little girl ran up to him, grabbed his legs and through a flood of tears begged him not to go. She wanted him here. She needed him here, with her and Mommy. Fighting back his own tears, he told her once again that he had a responsibility to help others in need and it was only for a little while. He would be home as soon as possible.

He hugged and kissed his little girl and hugged his wife, the little girl’s Mother. They both hid most of their tears for the little girl’s sake, but had to show some so she would understand how hard it is on her Mommy and Daddy too and that it’s okay to cry.

Her Daddy walked down the ramp to the plane and just before boarding, turned around, looked back at his little girl with a crooked smile and gave her their secret sign. A little tug on his ear, just like the comedienne, Carol Burnett used to do for her own Mother at the end of each show. That was how Ms Burnett let her know that she was alright. Through her tears and a “forced” smile, she returned the secret sign.

She never knew who Carol Burnett was, until her Daddy started showing her some of the TV shows that were on when he was a child. He said her Grandma looked a lot like her and that, in a way, Ms Burnett had helped raise him too. She never got a chance to meet her Grandma, but her Daddy told her lots of stories of the nice things she used to do and it was almost like she had met her before, especially in her dreams. 

For the next few weeks, when it was time for bed, she took her favorite book and got into bed clutching it, like a new mother holding her precious child, and eventually she would fall asleep.

One day, a package was delivered to their house. Her Mommy said, “Honey, you have a package”. The little girl wasn’t sure what a “package” was, for she had never gotten one before, but she was sure it was something “special”.

She came running down the hall from her bedroom, looked at the package and saw her name on it. Then she looked at the corner of the package and screamed, “It’s from my Daddy! It’s from my Daddy!”

She began to open it and saw something written at the bottom. It said, “Do not open till bedtime.” She didn’t understand, but told her Mommy what it said. Her Mommy nodded her head in understanding.

“Oh Mommy, may I pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeease open it now?” Her Mommy said, “It’s your package dear, you can do whatever you want to do with it”. She looked at the package, then at her Mommy. Package. Mommy. With a slight pout she said, “I’ll wait until bedtime because that’s what my Daddy wants me to do” Her Mommy said, “Go ahead and put it under your bed until bedtime.” She asked her Mommy with a child’s grin, “Can I go to bed now Mommy?” It was 2:30pm in the afternoon. Her Mommy returned the grin and they went shopping instead.

When they got back home, they stayed busy until bedtime. When it finally arrived, she put her “jammie’s” on, got the package from under her bed and opened it.

She looked at what her Daddy had sent her. It was a book. Not just any book. It was “THE” book. She stared at it for a moment. Then, her shoulders drooped and her eyes started to tear up.

“What’s the matter honey?” her Mommy asked. “It’s my favorite book, the one Daddy reads to me at bedtime.” “What a nice gift.” The little girl opened her mouth and, choking back her tears said, “I guess.” She looked at the book again and suddenly felt sad and alone, like when her Daddy first left. It reminded her that her Daddy wasn’t here to read it to her.

Her Mommy sat down beside her on the bed, “I know honey. Daddy will be back as soon as he can.” The little girl did not want to read the book. It was always her and Daddy.

She was getting ready to put the book back under her bed and go to sleep when her Mommy said, “What’s this?” She pulled something else out of the opened package. It looked like a pen, but not for writing.

The little girl remembered she had a book once that would ask her to find things, or spell words and it had this type of “pen”. She had to touch each of the letters for the word she was trying to spell, with the “pen” or touch it to an object she was trying to find. The book would then tell her if she was right or wrong. She thought it was called a “wand” or something like that. She became more interested and asked her Mommy how it worked. “Let’s find out.” her Mommy said.

So, the little girl opened the book and on the first page it had written the name of the book and the author’s name. There was a small round disk about the size of a nickel that had “Touch here” on it. The little girl took her finger and touched the round disk. Nothing happened. She took another finger and touched the disk again. Still nothing happened.

She looked at the disk on the page, and looked at the “wand” she was holding. Slowly she touched the tip of the “wand” to the disk. She heard a voice say “Because Your Daddy Loves You, by Andrew Clements and illustrated by R.W. Alley.”

She looked at her Mommy and smiled. It was an audio book. She touched the disk again. Again she heard “Because Your Daddy Loves You,” by Andrew Clements and illustrated by R.W. Alley.”

She stared at the page for a full minute. Something was familiar, but she didn’t know what. She looked up at her Mommy, who was smiling at her and had tears in her eyes, but the little girl didn’t know why.

She turned to the next page. There was another small round disk about the size of a nickel. She then realized there was a disk on every page. She touched the “wand” to the disk and she heard the voice read what was on that page. A look of concentration was on the little girl’s face as she touched the disk again. Again the voice read what was on that page.

The little girl gasped, like when something takes your breath away. And then she understood. “Mommy!” she screamed, “It’s Daddy! It’s my Daddy!” The little girl started to cry, but these were not tears of sadness and unhappiness as before. These were Tears of Love. Tears of Joy. Tears of her and her Daddy’s “Togetherness in their Apartness”.

She looked at her Mommy, who was also crying the same tears as she was. She jumped on her Mommy’s lap and squeezed so hard she thought she might explode. She kept saying, “It’s my Daddy! It’s my Daddy! He’s really reading to me while he’s helping the people who cannot help themselves.” “It’s really him. How did he do it Mommy? How did he do it? Oh, I don’t care how he did it. He did it for me Mommy. He did it for us! Oh Mommy, It’s my Daddy!”

The little girl settled down and she finished the book with her Mommy. She touched the disk on each page at least twice. Once, she touched the same disk 5 times. She wanted to hear her Daddy’s voice. She wanted to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

After reading the book for the second time, she turned to the back of the book. Suddenly the little girl’s smile got bigger and wider than ever. She had a sparkle in her eyes that had not been there since her Daddy left.

At the very back of the book there was a picture. Her Daddy had put it there. It was a picture of the both of them at bedtime. She was in bed; he was sitting next to her reading her favorite book, “Because Your Daddy Loves You”. She just stared at the picture for a long time. She touched the picture, touched her Daddy, and touched the book in the picture.

She turned to her Mommy and hugging her, put her head on her Mommy’s shoulder and said, in a softer, almost inaudible whisper, “It’s my Daddy” Her Mommy rocked the little girl while she held her and said, “I know Honey. Do you know why your Daddy sent you this book?” The little girl paused and said “Because he loves me, right?”  “Yes, honey. Your Daddy loves you very much. And he’s very proud of you for being so brave while he’s away helping people. He misses you as much as you miss him.”

The little girl closed the book and let out a deep breath. With that breath, she let out the sadness, the loneliness, all the unhappiness that had been with her since her Daddy left. Her Mommy kissed her goodnight, turned off her reading light and said, “Goodnight Honey. Have Happy Dreams.” The little girl replied, “I will, now that I have my Daddy back, sort of.” It was good enough for the little girl.

She laid down holding the book and was just about asleep, when she opened her eyes wide and sat up very quickly. “Mommy!” she cried. She thought she remembered something about the book. Something she had missed. Her Mommy came running from her bedroom, turned on the light and said “What’s the matter Honey?” “I’m not sure”, the little girl said. “There’s something……” She opened the book and started turning page by page, looking for something, she wasn’t sure what. She got to the end of the book and said, “I thought I missed something, but maybe….”

She was about to close the book and she saw it. There on the last page, right next to the picture of her and her Daddy. There was a small round disk, about the size of a nickel. It had “To My Baby Girl” written on it.

She looked at her Mommy, looked back at the book and very slowly touched the disk with the “wand” she was holding and this is what she heard:

“Hi Baby Girl. It’s Daddy. I Love you so much and I really, really miss you and Mommy. Baby, I know that it’s hard for you to understand why I had to come and help these people and I’m so very proud of you. Do you remember the talks that we’ve had and how I would always tell you that if you help 1 person every day for the rest of your life, you won’t have time to be disappointed with what you’re not getting or what you don’t have. You’ll be happy and blessed that you have helped all those people. Now, I’m going to tell you something that you may not understand right now, but, trust Daddy, one day you will.”

“It was very hard for me to leave you and your Mommy, even for just a little while. It’s the last thing that I ever wanted to do. But, if I had stayed at home and not come here to help, it would have been good for a little while because we would have been together. But, later on, I would be thinking that I had let those people down, and in my mind, I would have let you and your Mommy down too, because I could have helped, but didn’t.”

“Honey, 2 days ago I found out the reason for me coming here. I was in a small town that had been almost completely destroyed by the ‘bad’ guys. We were looking around to see if anyone was hurt or needed help. A man and woman were standing by, what was left of their house. It had no roof and only 2 walls that looked like they would topple over if someone sneezed.”

“The man held the woman behind him protectively and asked in broken English, ‘Ah-may-ree-kan?’ I nodded my head yes, we were ‘American.’ They ran up to me, put their arms around me and gave me the biggest hug that just about took my breath away. There were tears in their eyes. They couldn’t speak English, but I understood what they were feeling. The woman moved back a bit, put both hands on my shoulders, looked me right in the eyes and gave me a big kiss on both cheeks.”

“The man grabbed my hand and while shaking it, kissed it time and time again. Suddenly, the man turned toward the house and said something I did not understand. The door to the house opened very slowly and when I looked inside, I knew why they were so thankful I was there. I knew why I had come here to help.”

“Out of the house came a 4 year old, blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl. Her blonde hair she got from her Mommy and her blue eyes from her Daddy. Her hair is usually in Pony Tails, because that’s her Daddy’s favorite way that she wears it. Her face and clothes were very dirty and I could see the tracks of her tears. She had been crying a lot. More than any 4 year old, or anyone, for that matter, should be crying.”

“Her father pointed to me and said, ‘Ah-may-ree-kan.’ The little girl got a big smile on her face and broke into a run towards me. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when she was about 3 feet away, she spread her arms out to her sides, like a bird or a plane that was about to take off, jumped towards me and flew into my arms. I caught her and she wrapped her arms tightly around my neck and through her tears she kept saying “\’ten-ku, ten-ku, ten-ku.’ I realized that she was saying, ‘Thank you’ over and over again. I held that little girl in my arms, and it was almost like being home and holding you sweetheart.”

“Baby, do you remember the times that I’ve told you that we’re all here for a purpose? Not just one purpose either. They happen all of our lives. We’re supposed to do, what we’re meant to do. Sometimes we understand our purpose right away, but, most times it isn’t until afterward that we realize what it is. Right now, my purpose was to come over here and help this family and their people, because they cannot help themselves.”

“Honey, if we ever got to a place where these things were happening to us and our family and our people, wouldn’t you want someone to help us if they could? So you see, staying home would have been ‘Good’ for a little while, but it would not have been the ‘Best’ thing to do for everybody involved. Our lives are not just for us honey. They’re about everyone, everywhere.”

“What I’m trying to say is, ‘Sometimes, the Good can be the enemy of the Best.’”

“I promise you will understand one day. For now, always remember that, I do the things I do, ‘Because Your Daddy Loves You.’”

“Now, look at our picture in the back of the book. Lift the bottom up and there will be a note. When it gets dark tonight, Mommy is going to take you outside and read it to you. And before you ask, Nooooooooo, you can’t read it now. You have to wait until dark. I Love You Baby. I Love You Mommy.”

Nighttime finally came. The Mommy and the little girl went outside. Her Mommy pointed to the sky and started reading:

“Hi Baby, do you see where Mommy is pointing? Do you see the biggest and brightest star she’s pointing at? That’s called the ‘North Star’ and it’s the brightest star in the sky. I’m sitting outside writing you this note and I’m looking at that very same star, in the very same sky. We’re all looking at it together.”

‘Now, if we can both look up and see the same star, in the same sky, we’ll never be that far apart. We’ll always be just one star away from being together.’

“Night-night baby. Daddy loves you.”

The Mommy held the little girl, rocking her back and forth. They both just stared at the bright star. The little girl’s eyes started to close and for the first time since her Daddy had left, she fell asleep with a smile on her face.

About 2 weeks later, her Daddy went to get his mail. He saw that he had a “package” from his little girl. At the bottom was written, in a 4 year old child’s scrawl, “Do not open till bedtime. And yesssssssssssssssssss, you do have to wait.” Her Daddy gave a chuckle and smiled. He went back to his tent and slid the package under the cot where he slept.

When his bedtime came, he took the package out from under his cot and opened it. What he saw inside caused him to catch his breath. He just stared at what his daughter sent him. A single tear rolled down his face. Suddenly, he felt his entire essence overflow with Love for his Daughter.

He stood up on wobbly legs, went to a nearby table, picked up his reading glasses and a box of tissues. He brought them back to his cot and lay down. He turned on his reading light, slipped on his reading glasses, grabbed a handful of tissues, opened the book and began to read, “Because Your Daughter Loves You.”

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