I placed my forehead against the dusty wood. As I inhaled, memories I had tried desperately to forget flooded into my mind. Her laughter echoed in my ears. Sunlight and warmth from past days attempted to hug me, but I pushed the embrace away. All I wanted was to forget.
Except, if that was what I really wanted, I wouldn't be where I was then - outside her door. I forced my shaking hand to grab hold of the door knob. A thin layer of dust was the only thing that separated me from the pain and grief.
My fingers turned until a faint click was heard, and I pushed the door open just a smidgen. Instantly, I regretted doing this. The distinct smell of dead roses caused my heart to ache. I didn't dare to open my eyes to what I knew was coming. I couldn't fathom exposing myself to all the torture - all the things I tried to tuck deep in my mind. All the sadness, all the devastation - I wondered why I let it come so close.
Even so, I let my eyelids rise and I saw the pink walls.
"Just like a pretty, pretty ballerina," she had once said in her angelic voice.
White wood bordered the pale pink, which had drawn my eyes to her bed. It was just as I had remembered. A white, mesh canopy lay draped above the pale gray headboard, complete with a puffy pink bedspread.
My heart sank deep into my stomach as I remembered lying on that bed next to her, her even breathing blowing faintly on my cheek. She had always been afraid of the dark, and often begged me to stay with her until the monsters fell asleep.
I flipped off the lights, not wanting to ponder other moments of her short life. I didn't want to look at her dolls and stuffed animals, which were tossed carelessly into the corner, as if she were going to run through the door and play with them any second now. I didn't want to view her coloring utensils and various art projects, knowing they would never be able to be finished. I wasn't able to, but desperately wanted to study her photographs on the walls. Such a vibrant child didn't deserve to be silenced so soon.
The lump that I had been trying extremely hard to push down my throat rose to the top. Tears cascaded down my cheeks and I sobbed.
I didn't want to remember her anymore. I wished there was a way to wake up without sadness or remembering her sweet face that was now buried deep in the ground several miles away. It wasn't fair for any child to perish young, but especially when it was mine.
My sweet, timid daughter didn't deserve this. What harm had her life caused anyone? Everything about her was pure and innocent, so young, so beautiful, so full of life. How could she be gone - just like that?
I laid myself down on her bed, and let my tears roll onto the pink fabric. I wished with all my might that she could come back to life and run into the room. I wished that I could hold her against my chest and feel her heartbeat and kiss her rosy cheeks. I wished that I could tuck her in and know that the farewell I would give her would only be till morning.
I wished that she wasn't gone and everything was back to the way it was before. I wished that her mother would come out of our room and act alive again. I wished that we wouldn't need to drape sheets over the family pictures on the walls for the childrens' sake. I wished that they could have their sister back, and I wished that people didn't have to bake us dinner anymore and shower us with sympathy notes. I wished that none of us were sad and that she could be a part of our family again. I wished that instead of simply wishing for these things to happen, they would become reality.
I wished that she was here right now and that she could kiss me on the cheek and give me a hug every night and say, "I love you, Dad."
I wished that she could have had these last eight years of life instead of being deprived of them. I wished for a lot of things, but what good was wishing anyways? She's still not here.
She's gone - just like that.
Author's Note: This story is dedicated to all the families who have lost a young child. Life can be so unfair, and no one ever should have to suffer through the pain of having a child pass away.