My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
Forgive me, Jaialai. Allow me to talk to Shosh a little more today, OK?
Shosh, you were always full of stories — vivid and exciting tales. Our world was filled with adventures about balloons, dinosaurs, cement mixers, and superheroes because of you. As a child, you were constantly drawing, reading, or telling stories.
You wove into your stories your favorite dishes, aunties, story characters, etc. You loved the color red; thus, it often made entry. The number 8 captured your fancy early on, so that was another frequent theme. (One of your first words was “EIGHT!” Yes, you shouted it out with pride and joy: it was never a mere utterance. In time, you trained your mother well because as we listened to a CD, you’d shout out track numbers — eight! four! ten! — and would throw a fit if she did not immediately changed the CD to that track.)
Juggernaut and Darth Maul were among your favorite characters because of their primary color, but you created your own superhero who could beat them all. Do you remember his name?
One day, your stories stopped. It wasn’t an abrupt event, but in time I noticed the stories became less frequent. Their absence was pronounced.
I fear I am to blame. You see, for most of my career, I worked 90-100-hour work-weeks.
I made you two promises when you were born. For the most part, I religiously kept them until recent events made them impossible without jeopardizing your well-being.
First, I promised I would always be there to take you to the doctor. During our time together, I was there for each and every single one of your doctor’s and dentist’s appointments … even when your mother wasn’t. (That included appointments with Ms. Nicole, your child therapist.)
Second, I promised I would always be home for dinner. With extremely rare exceptions, I was also home for dinner with you every night. After dinner, while still in my suit pants and dress shirt, you and I would convene to the play room where we played or read … or, more often than not, you’d regaled me with your tales.
Unfortunately, most evenings ended with you saying, “Daddy passed out!” Too often, I was exhausted from the early mornings and long work hours. Thus, the comfort of your company and the warmth of your voice released my stress and invited sleep, something which has eluded me most of my life.
I would be false if my recollection stopped there. My “passing out” was no cause for the cessations of your tales.
Because of the nature of my work, I usually woke up at 3:00 A.M. and worked late into the night (after you’d gone to bed), mulling over complicated problems and figuring how best to resolve them. (This was why, for example, I was able to gain in a few months a new insurance license which three different departments at the Enron of Healthcare had failed to obtain in each of the three previous years, and to resolve years-long compliance problems where the insurer cheated tens of thousands of policy holders of medical benefits to which they were entitled.) The down-side of this work strategy was that it made me bad company at home.
Often, when you recounted your tales of adventures, I nodded and made noises of acknowledgement, but my mind was still hard at work, finding solutions to pressing problems. I wasn’t listening. Eventually, you caught on. At first, I was too preoccupied to notice. But, eventually, you kept more and more of your stories to yourself.
At least, it is my hope that you’ve only been keeping these stories to yourself. I hope and pray that the fountain of your stories has not gone dry, that you still breathe and dream stories, as does George Orwell, driven by some sort of compulsion. http://orwell.ru/library/essays/wiw/english/e_wiw. I hope and pray that it was not I who inadvertently extinguished the fire of your passion. If so, that would be my gravest sin, and words could never sufficiently express my remorse. If so, I can only look forward to the day when I can make amends.
Please don’t let my failing be your stumbling block. Feed your imagination. Tell your tales.
Know that as atonement, I now listen to the stories of every child who asks of my time. I neither rush nor slow the progression of their tales. I hope someday soon, you could grace me with your tales once again.
All my love, always,