The return of the Mid-week Blues Buster


I was almost asleep when yet another kick to the ribs sent pain shooting down my side. Lucy wasn’t really awake, just flailing in another nightmare, though her growing limbs could deliver a jolt that was unthinkable even just a few months ago. She was getting stronger quickly, developing some of her mother’s wiry strength. Well, it was only fair. Lucy was going to need a lot of strength to get through the next few months.

Shifting around through the mountain of stuffed bears, horses, and night-light turtles, I wrapped my arms around my daughter and sang to her until she settled back down into a sound sleep. When you find yourself in times of trouble, indeed. I turned my head from Lucy’s so that she wouldn’t feel the wetness of my tears on her cheek. In the dark like this, the memories rushed back fiercely, leaving me without defenses to keep them at bay.

The apartment we’d lived in on Nineteenth Street when Lucy was born. The rainbows and balloons on the wall and worn beige carpet on the floor. I’d stretch out, my feet on one wall and my head on Sarah’s lap as she’d sing to the bundle in her arms. Sometimes I’d fall asleep before Lucy, and wake to my wife running her fingers through my hair, trying not to disturb the little girl who’d finally fallen asleep.

I’d imagined nights in the future when I could stretch out next to my little girl and read her a story in relative comfort. Sarah was sick by the time we’d bought this bed for Lucy’s birthday, but we hadn’t told anyone, and all three of us tried to squeeze into the bed together, just for one night. Snuggling in a twin bed was fine in college, but it didn’t really work for two adults and a child, the smallest of whom seemed to take up more room than anyone her size should have been capable of. So I’d stopped falling asleep in Lucy’s bed, leaving that task to her mom. At some point, she was going to be too old to sleep with her dad, anyway.

I tried to stretch out my leg, which was getting numb from the way I was laying on my hip, but the dog had taken up residence at the end of the bed, and he wasn’t moving for anything. Cramming myself against the wall, I shifted until the numbness went away, and then cursed silently as the pins and needles replaced it. My squirming jostled Lucy, but beyond mumbling “Daddy, stop moving,” she stayed asleep.

When Sarah went into the hospital, and then into hospice, Lucy would climb up next to her and doze off, but at home at night, she’d ask me to lay down with her. “I can’t, sweetie. Daddy has to do some work,” I’d say, but the truth was that I still hoped that one day, her mom would come back and take her rightful place, and I wasn’t ready to admit that wouldn’t happen. Even the last days, I said no. And so each night when I’d come in to give her a good-night kiss, the bed would get more and more full with stuffed animals and toys and the beagle, until there was barely any room for Lucy. When I changed the sheets, or fixed a blanket, I’d come back to find each of them back in their spot, piling up around her like a wall.

Then finally the day came when it really was just the two of us. We each got ready for bed, but the tears never stopped. Not for me, and certainly not for Lucy. And this time, when she asked me to stay with her, I did. There were too many of us in bed that night, with a sobbing girl, and me, and all of the animals, but the one who took up the most room was a ghost. Some day soon, I told myself, I’d go back to my bed, when we no longer needed to not be alone in the dark. If.


One Response to “The return of the Mid-week Blues Buster”

  1. You gave me shivers…so beautiful.

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