Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: QUESTION (S) (05/30/19)
- TITLE: Daddy
By Arlene Baker
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My heart skidded to a halt as Lucy gazed up at me, her hand resting on my knee.
“What makes you ask such a question, sweetie?”
“Marilyn has a daddy. She’s my bestest friend at school. Judy as a daddy, too. How come I don’t have a daddy?”
“You do, Lucy …”
“Where is he? Why doesn’t he come to see me? Doesn’t he love me?”
I squeezed Lucy’s hand as the questions tumbled like kittens playing with yarn. How could I tell my 6-year-old her history? History that could crush her young spirit.
I groped for answers. None came.
“Let’s check the mail.” I jumped to my feet.
“Oh, goody,” Lucy cried. “Maybe Daddy sent me a birthday card.” She halted. “But, that’s not until next month. Surely he knows when my birthday is.”
“Yes, I’m sure he does.”
We shrugged into our jackets and hunched against the chill Midwestern wind. Midnight, our lab bounded through the foot of snow. Lucy squealed as she chased after his ebony tail waving like a flag in a gale. I released the air from pent lungs, knowing my ploy had worked. But, for how long?
Years had passed since I saw my rapist’s face every time I closed my eyes. I shivered.
“You cold, Mama?” Lucy’s nose wrinkled in its adorable way as she frowned. I smiled at her, my precious treasure.
“No, honey, I’m fine.”
“Okay, Mama. Come on, Midnight.” Lucy sprinted down the drive, kicking up snow as she ran. “I’ll beat you to the mailbox.”
Midnight barked and pranced, letting Lucy win. I laughed out loud, then bit back a sob.
I remembered the intense shame, fear, loathing I felt after I’d learned the assault had impregnated me. My mind had galloped in panic. I entertained thoughts of abortion, more than ready to erase all memory of that horrid night. Friends and family encouraged me to carry it out.
“Put it behind you,” they said.
“Do you want to be reminded of that monster every day?”
“Surely God understands.”
“Don’t put it off.”
But I did. I hesitated over the decision. No matter how it had happened, I knew the life growing inside me was a miracle I couldn’t destroy.
As soon as they understood my determination to carry to term, even in the middle of my own pain, friends and family supported me, encouraged me and stood by as I gave birth. I will never, never forget the love that surged through my being the moment I held Lucy’s tiny body in my arms for the first time. Everyone forgot the how of her creation and celebrated with me.
“She looks just like you.” I sensed the relief in my mother’s voice. It matched my own.
After that, the nightmares lessened and finally ended.
That day, I stopped asking God “why” the rape had happened and started thanking him for this miracle in my arms. I thought of several friends who longed to have children yet remained childless. I pulled my newborn daughter closer. I had not asked for her, but she was mine. All mine.
I began to understand how tragedies have the power to bring joy. I’d watched my baby grow and learn. I’d observed her love of life. Even without a daddy. Now, I watched as Lucy and Midnight danced around the mailbox and laughed out loud. She pulled the door open and peered inside.
“Nothing, Mama.” Disappointment clouded her pert face for a moment. “Maybe tomorrow.”
“Maybe.” I turned back to the house to hide the sudden tears in my eyes.
“God, what do I tell her?” I whispered.
Do you believe I knit you in the womb as David wrote in Psalm 139?
Do you believe I formed Lucy the same way?
“I … I never thought of it like that before. But yes. Yes, how could you not have? I cherish her as much as if she had been conceived in …”
Tell her I made her. Tell her I’M her daddy.
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