I promise to see her again someday
When that will be, I really can’t say
I promise to make up for the time that’s past
To hold her and comfort her, in my arms at last.
– Dear God, Please Take Care of my Little Girl by Terry Gouveia
She picked up one of the heavier boxes despite her husband’s protests and hoisted it onto her hip. “I can handle it,” she snapped, not knowing if she actually believed her own words. Breathing heavily, she struggled up the steep flight of stairs into their one bedroom apartment.
The idea of having a second bedroom sitting glaringly empty was too painful for the both of them. She dropped the box with a clunk and didn’t really care if something inside broke. She turned towards the door ready to go get some more boxes, when he was suddenly there and blocking the doorway.
“Let’s take a break,” he told her. The inflection in his voice made it clear that it wasn’t a suggestion. “The truck’s all locked up.”
She nodded and moved to find some water bottles for the two of them. Digging through the kitchen things, she stopped short. Laying on the top was her old, stuffed bunny from when she was a baby. He was over thirty years old with a missing eye. He had a music box installed that would play soft music when you turned a tiny, golden key in the slot, but that part had been broken for as long as she could remember.
He wasn’t cuddly or that cute anymore, but her daughter loved it. Her daughter used to love it the way she did when she was a little girl. She picked it up slowly and turned to her husband. “You packed this?” Her voice shook as much as her hands, unable to look away from the lifeless bunny she was holding.
“Honey…” his voice distant and already fading. “I don’t know how-”
One of the first things she noticed when their daughter died was that she never seemed to run out of tears. The ache in her chest and the pain behind her eyes never seemed to go away. She couldn’t look at her husband without her heart breaking all over again.
Her knees hit the floor hard, the bunny falling limp onto the ground as she shook violently. The sobs bubbled up radiating through her chest and out of her throat, loud in the quiet room.
“It’ s gonna be okay,” her husband whispered the mantra in her ear and rubbed her back.
She shoved him away forcefully and screamed, “How?! How is any of this going to be okay? She’s dead. Our daughter’s dead.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to be,” he spoke gently. She didn’t care what he said or how soothing his voice was; she died the second her child did.
Every time she closed her eyes, all she saw was broken glass shimmering in the air around her like slow moving rain drops. She heard the honking of the cars around her trying to warn her of what was coming. Nothing could warn her for this. Nothing could warn her how it would feel to pull her little girl’s body from a mangled car. Nothing could warn her how her husband’s cries would sound on the way to the emergency room.
The sobs starting to take full control of her body like convulsions. He pulled her close despite her attempts to keep him away, and began to cry with her. Her head found its way to his chest, both their hands now clutching the ratty, stuffed bunny between them.
“I’m so sorry,” she wept into his chest. “It’s all my fault.”
His tears started to fall, mixing in with hers and he brushed her hair away. “This is not your fault. It was an accident.”
“I was driving,” she looked up at him, grabbing his jaw in her hand. “Look at me at tell me it’s my fault. Please.” He shook his head no the best he could. She let go of him and couldn’t help but see their little girl behind his eyes. This kind of pain, this kind of agony, would never leave her. “What if God never forgives me?”