To my oldest-
I left the house. You were screaming and kicking and fighting. Daddy held you as you screamed “No!” over and over again. I just needed a break- an hour reprieve at the gym. I promised, “I’ll only be gone an hour. I’ll bring dinner home.” But you couldn’t hear me over your screams.
The whole time at the gym, I could hear your screams. Even the sound of the treadmill couldn’t drown them out. I left early, grabbed some fast food, sped home. When I walked in the door, you and Daddy were playing with Lincoln Logs on the rug in the living room. I smiled, reassured that you had quickly calmed after I’d left. But Daddy followed me into the kitchen and whispered, “He just settled down about two minutes before you walked in.”
“He cried the whole time I was gone?”
Daddy shook his head. “He screamed the whole time you were gone.”
Six years later, I grabbed my coat and hollered, “Bye! Love y’all! I’ll be back in three hours!” A little one ran up and hugged my leg and said, “I love you, Momma.” Another held out his arms and I embraced him before he ran off to play. But you sat in the family room on the couch with your back to me. You were engrossed in a card game you were playing by yourself.
“Bye!” I hollered again.
You replied with, “See ya!”
That’s it. Two little words. That’s all you said. No screams.
You didn’t even take your eyes off that card game.
As I walked out the door, I paused on the porch. All was silent and at peace. There were no sounds of clambering, clawing at the door to follow me out. No shrieking on the other side of that door. Not a sound but peace.
Trauma once told you, “If she leaves, she’ll never come back.” It said, “Trust no one. Nothing is for sure. Everything changes and you have no control over it.”
But love rewrote your story. It whispered, “She keeps her word.” And, “You belong here, little one, and you’ll never have to leave.”
That peace on the porch was not lonely or heartbreaking. It was so, so sweet- a sound only love can make.
**Side note- I looked through a few hundred Google images of “child screaming” searching for the right pic to convey what life was like 6 years ago. I saw image after image of little screaming faces, but what was missing was the fear I’d seen in your eyes. Then, I saw the picture above. The fear- it was genuine. I clicked on the image and discovered the story behind the photo. The caption read, “A screaming Palestinian child is treated at al-Shifa hospital after Israeli forces shelled her home in Gaza City on July 18, 2014.” Trauma. It takes many shapes but wears the same expression.
After finding that photo, I searched through my photos to find a picture of your face now. I found this one.
You and your sister were playing Little House on the Prairie. And the ironic part? Grandma took this pic and texted it to me a couple weeks ago while Daddy and I went out of town for the night.
I was gone. No screams. No fights. No terror or trauma. Just peace. Sweet, sweet peace. A sound only love can make.