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Her Secret Wish
June 24, 2003. Melanie leaned her head against the foggy car window. She stared at the trees and buildings passing by. She sniffled and reached her hand up, brushing the tears from her cheek. She couldn’t believe that it had happened. She didn’t want to believe it. She didn’t want to believe that he was gone. Forever. She would never get to hear his laugh again; never get to see his smile. It fit that it was raining today. It fit, just like that song that she heard on the radio: “Holes in the Floor of Heaven.”
The car pulled to a stop and Melanie climbed out, not looking at anyone else and headed straight for her room. She slammed the door and plopped down onto her bed, but she couldn’t sleep. She hadn’t been able to sleep for more than an hour the past week, but the little rest she did get kept her going. Not that she did much all day anyway. She met people who told her how sorry they were, she cried, she tried to eat, that was pretty much her whole routine. All of a sudden there was a knock at the door.
“Mel? Sweetie? Are you okay?” It was her mother.
“Yeah. Sure mom,” she replied.
“Look at this room. You haven’t even started to get packed. You know that we leave for Sydney tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry Mom, I’ll be ready.”
“Alright sweetie. Try to get some sleep tonight. I know you haven’t had much recently.” With that, her mother turned around and closed the door behind her.
The nerve of her mother; she was acting like she hadn’t just lost her husband and Melanie’s father. She was acting like today was just an ordinary day and they hadn’t just gotten back from the cemetery. How could she expect Melanie to move from Pittsburgh to Sydney so soon? Not only would her dad be left behind, but she would have to leave all of her friends too. How was she supposed to adjust?
While fuming at her mother, she stripped off the black dress that she had worn to the funeral and smoothed it out on her bed. It was a beautiful dress, but she didn’t know if she would ever be able to wear it again. She looked around at her room and the half-packed boxes. Her battered stuffed bunny from her third birthday sat on her shelf. Her clothes from that week were strewn all over the floor. She couldn’t imagine packing everything. Nevertheless, she pulled on a large t-shirt and sweatpants and set to work. She knew that she wouldn’t get much sleep, so she packed slowly. Just as she saw the sun rising outside her window she closed the last box. In just an hour her mother would come in and shuffle her off to the airport, leaving behind Pittsburgh and the only place she wanted to be: with her father.
The whole plane ride to Sydney, Melanie slept, finally. She really needed the sleep, but her dreams were haunted with terrible things happening to her father. He was eaten by a shark. He was murdered in the bath tub. After each dream, she woke with a start, crying, but she just settled back in the seat with her I-pod in and drifted back to sleep. It was an agitated sleep, but at least she was sleeping.
The plane landed and Melanie climbed in a taxi with her mother and brother, Bradley, heading off to their new home. It was a large Victorian style house with a wrap around porch. She had to admit that as much as she didn’t want to be here, it was a very nice house. Her room was on the second floor, and as Melanie inspected it, she realized that if she climbed out of the window, then she could go sit on the roof. That was her favorite part. By using that window, she would be able to go out and look at the moon. That special night sky that she shared with her father; or that she had shared.
That night she climbed out with her blanket and sat on the roof, under the full moon, staring at the stars. She was only twelve years old and she had lost her father, but out here, he didn’t seem so far away.
“Hi dad,” She said. “It’s me Mel. I miss you daddy, but I hope that Grandma was right and you’re here with me in spirit. I could really use you right now.” Tears streamed down her face as she continued her conversation with her father. “Dad I don’t want to be here. You said that you’d always be with me, but you’re not here right now. You’re not here when I really need you. You’re not going to be there for anything else either. Why daddy? Why? Why did you leave?”
Melanie cried there on the roof, hugging her blanket to herself. She knew full well that her father didn’t choose to leave. It wasn’t as though her father had died intentionally. He’d had a heart attack in the middle of the night on June 17th. She couldn’t control it, no one could control it, but it still hurt.
“Daddy, more than anything I just wish that’d you could be there for all of those major events that haven’t happened yet: my first dance, my first boyfriend, my graduation day. Daddy, you’re going to miss so much and I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it. I love you Dad and I need you. Please, come back.” It was a fruitless request but she had to say it anyway. Fresh tears poured from her eyes as she sat there. Finally, she climbed back down through her window and slept. She really slept. She didn’t have any nightmares, she didn’t even dream. She just slept for 12 hours.
Weeks passed, and months and Melanie started to adjust to life in Sydney. It was now November 4th, her thirteenth birthday. Her mother had made a special white cake with raspberry filling ( Melanie’s favorite ). As she blew out her candles she made a wish, just as she had always done. This time, however, her wish was slightly different. She wished for just one more day that she could spend with her father. This was a foolish wish of course, but it was the only thing that Melanie truly wanted.
Another year passed and another and another, and then it was the day before her sixteenth birthday. She arrived home and headed straight up to her room. She couldn’t believe it. It had been three and a half years since her father died, but this week, she’d been having the same nightmares that she’d had just after her father died. She couldn’t shake these reoccurring nightmares and her schoolwork was starting to slip. Not only were her dreams plaguing her, but her life in the past three and a half years hadn’t gone exactly how she’d hoped. She thought that she’d have a boyfriend by now and be getting straight A’s and be part of some sport team, but no. Her mother was the one with the boyfriend and her grades were good, but not spectacular like they had been back in Pittsburgh. She didn’t even understand why she wasn’t dating anyone. Her friends all said that she was pretty and nice and they didn’t get it either when she told them her concerns, but that didn’t help much. In fact, it made matters worse. She had so many things that she wished she could talk to someone about, but she didn’t know who to talk to. The one person that she really thought would understand was her father, but he wasn’t exactly available to talk to.
That night her mother set out a cake for her, just as she always did, except this year her mother would only be staying to watch her blow out the candles, since she had a date. It seemed to Melanie as if her mom were the teenager in the house. As she blew out the candles, she made the same wish that she had for the past four years. She wished for just one more day to spend with her dad.
“Happy Birthday, sweetie! Enjoy your cake. I won’t be back too late.”
“Ok mom,” Melanie said half-heartedly. The only bright side to her birthday so far was that it was Friday, so she wouldn’t have to wake up and go to school tomorrow. She felt like such a failure for a sixteen year old. She didn’t even have any plans for her birthday. All that she was planning to do was make popcorn and watch a movie, by herself.
“How pathetic am I?” she muttered. “I’m sixteen and I have the most pathetic non-existent social life ever.” Melanie curled up with her blanket and fell asleep right there on the couch watching her movie. She didn’t realize that above her in the night sky one particular star was twinkling in the most mysterious way.
She awoke form the suns rays shining through the window right into her eyes, a most unpleasant way to wake up.
Melanie thought she’d heard her father’s voice for a second, but she immediately dismissed it as just a remnant of her dreams.
“Morning Pumpkin,” the voice so like her father’s repeated.
Melanie sat up and rubbed her eyes. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. He father was sitting there on the coffee table, right next to her.
“Dad?” she asked.
“But . . . how? You Died. Almost four years ago.”
“I know. And I also know that you haven’t had the easiest time here. I’ve also heard everything that you’ve said to me since then; all your wishes and prayers and questions.”
“But I still don’t get it. How are you here?”
“Don’t you remember that wish you made last night when you blew out your candles?”
“Yes, but I’ve made that wish before and it didn’t come true then.”
“That’s true, but last night you really meant it and now, you really need it. Or at least the man upstairs believes that you need it. Look at you. You’ve gotten so big and so beautiful.”
“It’s ok honey. I know that this is a little weird, but I’m only here for a day and I want to spend as mush time with you as possible.”
Melanie was speechless. Tears were forming at the corners of her eyes and she reached forward and hugged her father good and tight, not wanting to let go.
“So about your boy problem,” her father said as he pulled out of her hug slightly. Listen I know that his may not help, but you just need to give it time. Now before you roll you eyes, listen to me. It’s true. There’s a grand design to things and everything that has happened to you has happened for a reason. You’ll find someone in time, don’t you worry. Everything happens for a reason, just like I said. I had to die when I did, because you needed to become a stronger person, which you did.”
“But why couldn’t I have gotten stronger some other way?”
“Because, I spoiled you too much. You’re my baby and my only little girl. I wanted to keep you that way and by doing that, I kept you from developing your emotional strength.”
“Ok. It still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I’ll trust you. Do you want to take a walk to the park?”
“That sounds great honey.”
Melanie and her father walked down to the park, just a mile away and talked. Melanie’s father knew some of the things that were going to happen to Melanie, but he wouldn’t let on to what any of those things were. He’d only say that things would be all right for her in time. Right now was just a rough patch, but she’d pull through. They strolled by the lake and saw all the water lilies. They passed the eucalyptus grove with the Koalas sleeping high in the tree tops. They strolled and talked. Melanie asked some question, but her father wouldn’t answer all of them, saying that there were just some things that he couldn’t say. He didn’t ask much of her, since he’d been watching her, just like that song, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven”, said. She almost couldn’t believe how accurate that song was.
“I’m so proud of you honey. You’re everything that I wanted you to be and trust me, you’ll be fine. I know you wish I could be there with you through it all and I will be, just not in the physical sense. I will always be with you in your heart and watching out for you from up above. You’re still my little girl and I wouldn’t let anything happen to you.”
“I know Dad. I just wish that I could talk directly to you some more, or at least for you to be able to answer whenever I talk to you like I always do on the roof.”
“I know, but you know what? I do answer, just not directly. Anytime you have a question for me, just ask and I’ll give you an answer somehow. You’ll just have to look closely for the answer.”
They walked together around the park and watched the sunset over the hill. Then they walked back to Melanie’s house and went up on the roof and lay down, gazing at the stars.
“See Mel,” her father said pointing up at one small, but very bright star. “Whenever you need me, that’s where I’ll be. Right there, on that star. Listening and watching.”
“Thanks dad. When are you going to leave?”
“In just about an hour, at midnight. But remember that I won’t really be gone as long as you look at that star.”
“I just wanted to ask you one more thing that’s been bothering me ever since that day you died.”
“Well, I was just wondering if, well . . . Before you left that morning, did . . . did I say . . . goodbye to you?”
“Yes honey, you did, but even if you hadn’t it wouldn’t have mattered. I know you love me; just like I love you and I will always love you.”
Melanie’s father wrapped her in one last tight hug and held her there, until he just disappeared. Melanie looked up at the night sky and at her father’s special star and smiled with tears in her eyes. She knew now that her father would never be gone. Not really. He was watching and she was making him proud. Now she knew that he would see her graduate and get her first boyfriend and get married and have children. No matter where she was, as long as she found that star, then she would be with him and could feel his arms wrapped around her, just the same as that last time he hugged her. The tears still flowed down her cheeks, but she wasn’t quite so fearful. She still wanted her father with her, but she had gotten her wish.
She had gotten one last day.