Babygirl – a name my father began calling me the day I entered this world. I swear I can hear his voice right now, and I see the scene of a pretty brown newborn being cleaned up on a table in a delivery room, and him standing by proudly saying Babygirl over and over again.
Strangely enough I used the title of this post as one of the chapter titles in my soon to be released novel. Life imitating art, to say the least, is an unsettling feeling. Three weeks ago I had to face the callous reality that one day until the rest of my life, I will never hear my father call me his Babygirl. Some realities you can never grasp or want to own. My father had his second recorded heart attack, and this time his kidneys began to fail. I’ve never had to deal with death so closely. I’ve had friends and cousins lose their parents and cried with them, but never fully understand how they felt until now.
I never thought about my daddy dying. I figured I’d be in my late sixties or seventies when he passed away. I’m not ready for this. I’ll never be ready for this. My parents are divorced and somehow I think that if they had stayed together and we were a “proper” family unit, he never would have gotten sick. I shake my head at my childish beliefs and am forced to grow up in an instant.
Thinking of my father being sick ills my heart. I don’t want him to suffer. He is under Hospice care and hearing him speak of dying shatters me every time. Then I think of how man made Jesus endure a painful death, and of all the sick people in the world, the catastrophes, and tragedies. Although I believe in God, in times of weakness none of this knowledge changes my heart; I don’t want my daddy to suffer. Hey, I’m human…I’m not perfect.
At the present I reside in the Bronx and he lives in Florida. This doesn’t help. I have to move, I have to help him in order to help me. The daunting scenes of my father lying in a coffin, and of me crying, is not a black art picture that I want to go on sale. This hurts. Nothing about black art should hurt…black art is beautiful.
I flew to Florida a week after his attack and stayed with him for five stingy days. Five days is no way long enough to spend with a man that made sure you had a hot meal, clothing, and a place to sleep every night. Oh, don't let me forget the sight of him putting together my first metal dollhouse. A whole lot of metal clanking and cursing, but hours later, I was playing without the thought of ever growing older. I only stayed five days because I had to be an adult, and return to my place of work so I could do the same for my child as he did for his. For once, I wish I had no job.
Losing a parent is devastating in more ways than I can imagine. The one thing I’m afraid of is, when my daddy passes on, it will be official. I will be an adult. I will be the one next in line to become a grandparent, and the one who everyone looks to for guidance. I have no choice but to take the reins and handle them like he did. But I was always the babygirl. To this day, at age thirty-nine, I’m still the babygirl. At least that’s how my daddy makes me feel. If he leaves me, will I still be the babygirl? Funny, I have two daughters and I still want to be the baby when it comes to my father. Before I left Florida to go to the airport he kissed me and said, “Stay sweet, baby. I love you.” It’s my birthright to be the baby.
Each day I’m living with the knowledge that death is going to come and choke me. The one thing that soothes me is I now know that no matter where my daddy is, I will always be Daddy's Babygirl.