Thursday, September 28, 2017

Letting Go

Letting Go
By Michael Cannata  

He sat alone on her bed, holding her favorite stuffed toy tightly against his heart. He could still see her face so clearly; the face of a little girl nowhere to be found.

His little girl, his first born, had vanished over six years ago. On the short walk home from school she simply disappeared. A search that began at her front door and stretched clear across the nation, had failed to find the slightest trace of her. All he had left of her was here in this room.

He and his wife had left it exactly as it was the day she went missing. His wife used to come here with him. They waited for years hoping that, against all odds, she would come home someday. They would wish, pray, cry and cling to each other, desperately hoping she would return, as desperately as he clung to her memory now. Over the years, what had started out as a symbol of hope, silently morphed into a loving memorial. Gradually, it changed into a shrine of sorrow.

As the years passed and her hope faded, his wife refused to enter it anymore. Each time she did, she would experience too much hurt and lose too much hope. It wasn’t until he realized that the pain that had settled into his wife’s eyes when her daughter disappeared, had been replaced by a different pain, the pain she suffered as she watched her husband slowly slipping away as well, that he began to notice how much his refusal to give up was destroying his family. When he saw the pain his grief had caused, he knew the time had come.

He had always loved to sit and talk with his children. Feeling abandoned, his kids had stopped talking with him years ago. They had finally realized that he didn’t talk to them anymore. He only talked at them. And it was always about her. It was as if he was so obsessed with the fact that she was gone that he had forgotten that they were still here. And that they needed him still.

Finally, even if it meant leaving him behind as well, his wife, his family told him they were ready to move on with their lives together and salvage what happiness it held for them, His wife told him she planned to leave with them. She had given up hope that she would ever get her daughter back. It was destroying her knowing that she would lose her husband as well.

She kissed him gently and left him in her room. She told him she would wait at her parent's home with the kids. Wait until he decided whether he would return to the family he had, or forever mourn for the family that once was.

Despite the fact that he felt he could never give up hope, he knew in his heart finding his daughter was a hopeless cause. Slowly, reluctantly, he began to pack her things away. His son would need a room of his own when he brought them back home. He had to let go of all hope of saving her, if he was to have any hope of saving what was left of his family.

Heartbroken, he knew what he had to do. Reluctantly, he steeled himself against the task. And for now, for one more moment, alone with her things for the last time, he would clutch the tiny toy closer to his heart for just a while longer before finally letting go forever.

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