“Daddy won’t leave me again, right?” muttered the timid, thin-framed child.
The man, standing before his son, turned his fatigued, weary eyes towards his son’s imploring voice. This was the first time his son had asked this question. He had expected his son to ask this question under the circumstances that they both were under. But he had never expected his son to ask it in an obsolete tone, as if his child had lost all faith in him and felt as if his presence was the very last time he would be able to see him. Distressed, he exhaled a deep, tiresome sigh from his lungs and with as much assurance as he could possibly muster, firmly replied, “I won’t.”
As much as he knew that it was a confirmation, the child felt as if his father had forced a lie to escape from his lips. He continued to stare at his motionless, small hands, which laid limp upon his laps.
The father noticed his son’s unresponsiveness and knew what he had said was inadequate and unconvincing for the child. He needed to have his son believe in him. He began to think about the brief moments that they had shared together and the times they had to break apart--oh, how short they were indeed. As unconventional as his broken situation was, his resolute purpose was to be committed to his son. He shifted his feet and gently lowered himself unto the bed, next to his son--a position he had performed many times, yet this time his heart felt rather heavy.
They both remained quiet, feeling the mutual melancholy presence of each other.
The child felt empty, in spite of his father’s presence. After all, this was the man that had decided to abandon the family and live a whole other entity. Why would he want to come back to a desolate location filled with insubstantial promises when he had better options outside of his worthless son’s existence? Why would he desire to see a sickly child, that was unable to get up from his bed and that spent most of his time rambling on to his nonexistent figment of imagination? In his lugubrious grievance, he still sought what every child would want: affection. His lingering hope lied upon his father’s decision. He wanted sincerity from his father. Not just another comforting gesture.
Unaware of his son’s brooding thoughts, the father stared blankly at a wall ahead of him. Formulating the words in his head, wanting to pick the right words in order to show to his son how serious he was about caring for him. He had made horrible decisions. But one decision that was never a mistake was visiting his son. He finally began to fill the empty atmosphere with his carefully selected words, “I know...that I am...not always next to you. But when I am here...I am reminded of how precious you are to me. There is no one else...in this world...whom I’d rather be with than with my son because...you are the only reason worth living for.”
The child carefully looked up to see his father’s face turned away with tears running down his chin. He slid his hand across the bed sheets and gently touched his father’s fingers. He felt the warmth of his father's hand as his father lightly held his frail hand. His heart was ever so slightly lifted with appreciation and gratitude.
Suddenly he felt very weary. He was always tired. But today he was exhausted. His eyes began to flutter as he gave a small, weak attempt of a smile for his father to notice. He then fell asleep.
* * *
In another room of the household, a divorced husband and wife were confronting a crisis. She had known that her ex-husband had had continuously snuck into her son’s room in order to visit him. But today she had grave news to reveal to him regarding their son; not his atrocious behavior.
“Were you there in his room the night that he...?” the wife weakly asked.
“No...I wasn’t able to.” he blankly replied.
Her body began to tremble and she began to weep. She rocked herself back and forth and sputtered, “I came back from the doctors that night...and they told me that...our boy was...that he...” She wailed even harder.
“What was he?” he softly asked.
She continued to wail and wail and he waited patiently until her sobbing began to falter. After a long moment, she finally uttered, “He had schizophrenia.”