Thursday, July 3, 2014

. . . A Belated Birthday Gift

Yesterday was July 2nd
Sassy's birthday was June 9th

On June 11th
2 days past her birthday
Her father asked her via FaceTime what she wanted
She told him, 
"Anything you want to get me daddy."
And he said he would find something she would love

No gifts arrived
Nothing was said again
Until three days ago
June 30th

21 days past her birthday

And on the phone
 in her soft, innocent little voice 
she asked her daddy,
"I haven't gotten anything in the mail daddy. 
Did you forget my birthday present?"
It wasn't a question of greed
or expectation
She wanted to know if he had forgotten her

He brushed it off and asked her again
what did she want
And she told him again, 
"Anything you want to get me daddy."
And he told her he would buy something she would love

Yesterday was July 2nd
23 days had passed since her 6th birthday
And she asked me, 
"Did daddy forget that it was my birthday?"
"No, of course not," I answered 
and explained that with two jobs
He was very busy

I texted him
I told him she had asked again
And considering they speak less than once a week
I figured it would be nice to know
If he planned on getting her a gift
Or if I should think of some way to excuse his 'forgetfulness'

His response was,
"Tell her I am going to try to buy it today."

I didn't tell her
I didn't know if he would really try
And I'd be damned if I would intentionally disappoint my baby
More than she already was

When he texted me several hours later
That he had left it on our front doorstep
I told her and she lit up
I retrieved the gift
And watched her open it
The anticipation was tangible
Her little fingers 
couldn't rip open the plastic bag 
and the small wrapped boxes 
fast enough

And when she saw what lay inside the boxes
Her big brown eyes twinkled with joy
He had purchased a pair of beautiful gold earrings
And a matching necklace

She wanted to wear them
So I put them on her
The stems of the earrings were very thick
Thicker than what she was used to wearing
Probably because the earrings were meant for adult ears
Not a 6 year old's
I told her we should exchange them
But she was adamant that she wanted to wear them
So I put them on her and clasped her necklace
And I told her just how beautiful she looked
She looked in the mirror and smiled
So proud

She wore them for the rest of the night
And when she FaceTimed her dad
She thanked him
Though I think he was expecting more enthusiasm
Because his face fell when she changed the subject
to her upcoming dance lessons next week

When they were done talking
And it was time to go to bed
She asked me to take off her necklace and her earrings
She gently placed them back in their velvet boxes
Replaced those into their gift boxes
and put the gift boxes in the drawer 
where the other 
and expensive jewelry lay
that he had bought for his girls over the years
unworn since the first time they had tried it on
Completely and utterly forgotten

Now they are asleep
And all I can think about
is how he had the opportunity to pick ANYTHING
to give to her as a gift
And he chose 
Instead of buying or doing something he knew she would love
He bought something worth money
Gem stones
Surely the more beautiful and expensive the gift
The more she would feel his love

And it makes me sad
Because unbeknown to him
the hundreds of dollars he spent on that jewelry
He could have spent on 5 hours visiting with his daughters
After all
this August it will have been one year since they last saw him
And that would have meant more than all the gold
all the gem stones
and all the beautiful, expensive gifts that money could buy
But he will never know
Because he cannot understand

And so on the days the girls don't talk to him
On the days he goes about his life without thinking to call
My little girls take the idea of their daddy
And they wrap him up in his velvety box in their memory
They tuck that soft velvety box into the harder more durable gift box
Of their subconscious
And they put him away
Never completely forgotten
But always just an afterthought

Unlike the jewelry he bought for them
They can't just open the drawer in their minds
Re-open the two little boxes inside their memory 
and make him appear in front of them

His gift to her today
Should have been himself
He should have said
That I will put away my pride
I will set aside being stubborn
I will forget that I am abiding by rules that I abhor
And for you on your birthday
I will follow the law
I will do what I am supposed to do
I will pay the money to the visitation center
And I will spend some time with you
I will give you me
That is what he should have done
And she would have beamed
Because it would have meant more to her 
than the earrings and necklace
It would have meant more to her 
than anything else he could have purchased
It would have meant EVERYTHING to her
But he didn't

Happy Belated Birthday 
My big girl

Mommy can only TRY 
to do both jobs as well as you and your sister deserve

. . .


  1. This makes me sad. I was five when my parents divorced and I remember all too well all of the broken promises or getting stood up for visitations and inappropriate gifts. Especially the time he spelled my name wrong on a birthday card. We haven't spoken in over 10 years and I can't say I miss him or ever tried to reach out- like your girls he's tucked away in some little space in my brain...wayyy in the back.

  2. :( This brought tears to my eyes. Like you, I can't imagine not putting my children and what they need and want first. Unreal that some people are so out of touch and will at some point grow old before they realize the errors of their ways. Others will go to the grave that way and be left with.... nothing. ((hugs)) to you and the girls.


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