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Daddy, Is That You?

by Lucky Garvin

“DADDY”

“Daddy? What are we doing here?”

“Uhhhh …,” the man cleared his throat, somewhat startled, wondering how to answer. “We… are here… because you are… sick.”

“Daddy? Where are we?”

“We’re at the hospital. Honey.”

She smiled when she heard the word, `Honey’. Then her face clouded.

“Why is this tube in my nose, Daddy?”

“To give you oxygen to help you breath.”

“And that beeping…?”

“That’s a machine that checks your heart.”

“Oh.” Then, “Am I sick?”

“Yes, you are, Sweet Baby.”

A warm smile covered her face. In whispered gratitude, she said, “You haven’t called me that for so long, Daddy. I love it when you call me that.” The talking stopped, but the smile remained.  “Daddy?”

“Ummm?”

“Put your hand on my cheek and tell me that I’m your little girl, like you used to.”

The man placed his hand on her cheek with gentle warmth and felt the responsive smile swell against his palm.  He looked into her eyes and told her, “You know that you are my special little girl, Sweet Baby.”

“And that you love me,” she prompted.

“I love you so very much,”

She closed her eyes and nodded in peaceful contentedness, reassured by the continued pressure of his hand.

“I still remember when you gave me those ribbons for my hair. You remember? The blue ones with little flowers on them? Do you remember what you told me?”

The man hesitated; confused. “Why don’t you tell me?”

“You said I was the prettiest little girl you had ever seen. I’ve still got those ribbons. They’re a little old, but they’re in my hair now. See? She made a weak gesture upwards with her eyebrows, unable to move her hand to point.

“You are still are the prettiest little girl any father ever had.”

The man watched as a tear traced a solitary path down her cheek.

“Oh, Daddy. I’ve been so lonely without you. Its been so long. So very long. I thought I’d never see you again.”

“I have missed you, too, my Sweet Baby.”

“But now that you’re here with me, I am so happy, Daddy.”

“I’m glad,” the man answered.

After a pause, she asked slowly, “Daddy? Am I…  dying?”

The man paused, holding his breath. Then he exhaled gently and began to caress her temple with his thumb. “Yes, you are, Honey.”

She continued to smile. “Will you stay with me while I die, Daddy?”

“I couldn’t leave you, Sweet Baby. I love you.”

Again she nodded peacefully. “Then it’ll be all right.”

After she was gone, the man stood up from the stretcher and slowly raised the sheet to her chin. Lowering it back a bit, he stared at the sparse, unkempt white hair and the deeply wrinkled face. Then he covered her.

A nurse entered the room with a chart. The man spoke to her, “Any idea who she is?”

“Nobody knows,” came the response. She shrugged; not uncaring; just helpless. “Just another dead bag lady without a name, I guess.”

The physician looked down at the covered body and murmured, “I guess.”

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