RoomHate(88)By: Penelope Ward
“I love you, Bumblebee. I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to tell you.” He wiped his eyes then turned to me. “I’ve never been more scared in my life, Amelia. I was afraid something would happen to her before I could get here, that I’d never see her smile again, that I’d never have a chance to tell her how much I want to be her father. The whole flight here, I prayed to God, bargained with him, that if she turned out to be okay, I wouldn’t let another second go by without telling her I loved her. The thing is…even without my saying it…she already thinks I’m her Daddy. I know I’m not her biological father, but she doesn’t know that. Blood doesn’t make someone a father anyway. What makes me her father is that she chose me. She owned me from the moment she first smiled at me. And while that used to scare the shit out of me, I couldn’t imagine life without her now.”
“I thought you didn’t want kids.”
“So did I. Maybe I didn’t want some generic imagined kids. But I want her.” He repeated in a whisper, “I want her.”
Now, I was crying, too. “She loves you, too, you know. Very much.”
“I’m the only father she’s ever known. And she thinks I left without explanation. That kills me every day.”
“What’s happening with the tour?”
“Well, they’re without an opening act now for the Christmas shows in L.A., but Calvin understands my situation. They’re gonna wing it. They all know how much Bea means to me. They said they would make due for the next few shows if need be. I’m not going back until I’m sure she’s okay and home.”
Our attention turned to Bea when she suddenly started to babble.
Justin teased, “Hey, you have something to say for yourself?” He smiled at her for a bit before turning to me. “Is it okay to hold her, or is it better not to?”
“They told me I could take her out. It’s okay. Just don’t toss her up into the air or anything.”
Justin slowly lifted her out of the bed and cradled her in his arms. “You scared the crap out of me, Miss Bee. You sure this wasn’t a ploy to get me home for Christmas? If so, job well-done.”
It had completely skipped my mind that tonight was Christmas Eve; we’d be spending her first Christmas in the hospital.
Tilting my head, I admired the two of them together. I’d always felt their connection but worried that Justin would never truly give into it. I felt so happy for Bea, that this wonderful guy wanted to be her father. I knew no matter what happened between Justin and me, he would always be there for her.
When Bea fell asleep in his arms, I told Justin the full story of what happened as best I could remember it.
Bea was still asleep when he returned her to the bed and asked, “When was the last time you ate, Amelia?”
“I’m gonna go get us some food and coffee while she’s sleeping.”
“That would be great.”
With Justin gone and Bea asleep, my tired mind went into overdrive. It was getting dark outside the hospital windows. Left alone with too much time to think, I started to push guilt on myself for allowing this to happen. I had one job, and that was to take care of my daughter and keep her safe; I couldn’t even do that.
When Justin returned, he was carrying a paper bag of food and a small Christmas tree that probably came from a pharmacy.
I must have looked like a wreck because he dropped everything and came over to me. “What’s wrong?”
“This is my fault. I should have checked her crib before I left the room.”
“It was an accident. That damn bulb fell off your sweater. You didn’t see it happen.”
“I know, but I can’t help feeling like if I’d just done something differently…”
“What are you talking about? You saved her life.”
“Yes. But only because I was lucky enough to wake up when I did. I can’t even imagine what today would be like if I hadn’t.”
“Don’t think about that. God was with her. She’s okay. She’ll be okay. It wasn’t your fault.”
“I just can’t help feeling like a horrible mother.”
“Listen to me. Remember that night we stayed up the whole night talking at the beach house that first summer? You told me you felt like teaching wasn’t what you were meant to do, that there was something else out there you’d be better at?”
“I’ll never forget this past summer when I came home unexpectedly to find you and Bea there. You were in that fucked-up state of disarray. I’d never witnessed anyone give of themselves so fully for the good of another human being like that. There isn’t one moment of any day where you don’t put her first. You don’t think about yourself, your own mental well-being, getting a break. I’d watch you feeding her sometimes and wish that I’d had a mother like you. Not so I could suck on your tits.” He winked. “But because of how nurturing you are. When we were growing up, I always thought you were pretty amazing, but it doesn’t even come close to how I see you now. So, don’t you dare. Don’t you dare call yourself a horrible mother, Amelia Payne. That thing you were meant to do that you couldn’t figure out? It was to be a mother to that little girl. That’s your calling. And you’re doing a damn good job.”