I had missed my dad.
The doctor told my mum that I will be going home soon.
I don’t know how soon soon is, but I know it’s not soon enough. That is what my dad said when I told him what mum had been told by the doctor. He got up from where he was sitting on my bed and told me that he was going to the nurses’ station to find out just how soon soon is.
I feel better. I don’t have any problem breathing anymore. The machine that had been attached to my body was taken out the other yesterday. I was moved from the other room to this room where there are no machines.
I am happy that my dad came to see me today. He has not come the last two days and I missed him. My mother told me that he was working. He has never missed to see me before. Even if he was working. There was a day he came with his laptop to the hospital. He sat on the chair next to my bed and worked from there. I don’t know why he did not come with his laptop again.
When he came today and when I saw him at the door of my new room I got out of bed and ran to him. He stood by the door. My dad is tall. He is almost as tall as the door. He was smiling when he saw me. He crouched and waited for me to reach where he was. He stretched out his arms and hugged me and carried me. I put my hands around his neck and my face in his chest. He smelled like the best smell in the world. I don’t know why I cried so much. I was happy I guess. There was something about the way he held me. He did not want to let go. I also did not want to let him go. My dad and I love each other.
He said, “I missed you, Emma.” He likes to call me my full name. My mother calls me Emm. “I missed you, dad,” I said. He carried me back to my bed and when he tried to put me on the bed, I refused to remove my arms from his neck. “I’m not going anywhere, Emma.”
“Okay. Okay.” I said.
When he sat down I saw that he also had tears in his eyes. I used my hand to wipe his tears but my hands are small and his face is big. So I took the end of my hospital dress and used it to wipe his face. This made him laugh. But he waited for me to wipe his face. I laughed also because he was laughing.
He touched both my cheeks with both his hands the way he loves to do and asked me if I was feeling okay. I told him that I had a surprise for him.
“What is it?”
“Okay. Can I see it?”
“Yes. If you close your eyes and open your hands in front of you.” He closed his eyes and stretched out his hands.
I took out the letter that I had kept under my pillow and placed it in his hands.
“Okay, dad. Open your eyes.”
He opened his eyes and saw that it was a letter.
“Can I read it now?”
He opened the letter. He read the letter. “Dear dad, you have teached me how to make friends but you are still my best friend in the whole wide world. You are the best dad in the whole wide world. The doctor said that I will be going home soon. I do not need the machines to breathe anymore. I can’t wait to go home with you and mum. I love you and I miss you. Emma.”
When he read my letter, my dad had tears in his eyes again. He gave me a hug and said thank you for the letter. And then he took a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his face. And then he used his handkerchief to wipe my face too.
He held my face in his hands. “This is the best letter anyone has ever written to me.” I hugged my dad one more time because I felt like crying again.
“I will ask mum to write you a letter too,” I told him. He folded the letter and put it in his pocket.
Dad is my best friend. He taught me how to make friends when I went to a new school. He said, “Always start with a hello.”
“What if she don’t want to talk to me?” I asked him.
He knelt down and held my face in his hands. He loves to do this. “Doesn’t. What if she doesn’t. And you have nothing to worry about. You have a face that is hard to say no to.”
“And then what do I say after saying hello.”
“Tell them your name.”
“And then what do I say after telling her my name?”
“You are not talking to yourself. You should allow them the chance to speak too.”
“And what if they don’t say anything?”
“Then you can ask them their name.”
“And then what do I say after asking her name.”
“You just asked a question, it is polite to wait for an answer.” My dad laughed when he said this. I laughed too.
“Okay, dad. And what do I say when she tells me her name?”
“You repeat their name.”
“To make sure you get it right. And because everybody loves the sound of their name.”
He knows so much my dad. I have so many friends now.
“Soon is apparently next week.” My dad says. He has just come back from the nurses’ station.
“What does parently mean?”
“Apparently. It means seems, or appears, or… looks like. So it seems ‘soon’ is next week. They’re discharging you next week. And next week is not soon enough.” Dad says as he sits next to me on the bed. He pulls me towards him and I rest my head on his shoulder. He points to three of my fingers one by one and we say it together. “Shield. Protect. Love.”
He always says this. That he will shield me from pain. That he will protect me. And that he loves me more than he can put into words. Shield. Protect. Love.
He takes off his coat and puts it on the chair. He folds the sleeves of his shirt. “Now we need to feed you before your mother arrives.”
He opens the tray of food that the nurse has brought and holds the plate of mushed potatoes and chicken stew for me to eat.
“I really, really missed you, dad,” I tell him.
“No more tears Emma. Eat your food now.”
Everything feels good when my dad is around. Even food tastes better.
“The past tense of teach is not teached, love.” He is smiling again.
“What is it?”
“What were you taught in school?”
“I don’t remember, dad. Tell me.”
“Oh, but I just told you.”
I don’t understand what he means, but I had really missed my dad.