My mom never really liked Esther who she thought to be too uppity, but when we got separated, she was the first one to ask us not to break what God has joined, but I doubted God had ever had any say in this relationship in the first place and more importantly we didn’t share her faith. In her resiliency, she always acted as if Jack didn’t exist, and it was only a matter of time before me and Esther got back together. Jack tried everything to get in her good graces, but she shot him down so abrasively, he always walked like a dog with his tail between his legs when he was around her. I remember I almost lost it once when she brought up the subject one too many times, but she was quick to put me back in my place by reminding who was the parent. She did take the hint and started dropping little hints here and there when she felt the mood was perfect.
Amani reacted like any 6 years old would react when they learn their parents are not together anymore. She went through the cycle of denial, anger, negotiation, and then acceptance far a lot quicker than expected, and it helped that me and Esther made every effort to make the transition as smooth as possible on her. It was around that time Esther gave her the nounours, Mr. Rogers. She might question our decision later to divorce and maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t be able to convince her that our differences were that irreconcilable. Yes, I flirted with the idea of getting back with her, but that’s all I did, just flirt.
I heard her talk to someone on the phone and I went back to the living room and asked her who it was.
“It’s Francis. He’s at the hospital, dad we need to go visit.”
“Give me the phone”
I took the phone and Francis told me that he had a minor accident on his way to our place, he was ok, but the car took most of the hit. He was home now resting because he was having some headaches. I asked why he didn’t go to the hospital. He must have had some kind of trauma. I don’t know why I was concerned all of sudden. He told me in his reassuring teacher’s voice that it was just a little discomfort that would go away as soon he rested. He had called his night job already to notify them that he was indisposed for the moment. I felt and knew that he was wrong. My daughter seemed to agree. She had her pink jacket, pink bag and her pink boots on and Mr. Rogers poking out her pink bag. She was ready to go. I told him I will call him back.
“Honey, where do you think you are going?”
“Dad, Francis is sick and needs to go to hospital”
She probably was right and I felt the same way, but I told her: “Francis doesn’t want to go and we can’t force him.”
She pouted and went to sit by the windows her nounours held closely. She just kept looking at me with those big brown eyes, getting all teary, and breaking my resolve at the same time.
“Ok, let’s go” I said grabbing my keys and my jacket.
We showed up at his door, and I explained to him that Amani was worried about him and that it wouldn’t hurt to get his headaches check by a doctor. He tried to protest, but he was no match to Amani’s pleas. So we went to the hospital and waited for 3 hours while he got checked out by the doctor. Amani was reading her children’s book in french about Peter Pan.
The doctor finally came and told us that they were going to keep him over night to run more tests because his blood pressure was elevated and his MRI scan showed a minor swelling on his brain that could be serious or not but he needed to consult with others doctors on his team tomorrow morning. We were welcome to see him though. We went in his room and I stood awkwardly by the window while Amani and Francis talked.
“Look what I have been reading” she showed him her book.
“That’s great, don’t forget to keep practicing your lessons and you can ask your dad to help you.”
“But it’s not the same. When are you going home?”
“Probably tomorrow as soon as they are done running some tests.”
“I don’t like hospitals.”
“Me neither, but I get to watch all the TV I want.”
She laughed. Francis looked to me and said: “Thanks for this, you didn’t have to do it.”
“Don’t mention it. I’m sure you will be fine.” I said with little faith. Brain injuries were anything but just minor, doctors always tried to smooth things over even they weren’t supposed to.
“It’s time to go Amani, you got school tomorrow and we have to let Monsieur Francis rest.”
“Bonne nuit Amani” said Francis.
“Bonne nuit Monsieur Francis” she replied.
We got to the door when she turned around to give him Mr. Rogers. Mais c’est pas vrai !
“Mr. Rogers will keep you company, Mr. Francis tonight.” she told him
He hesitated and looked at me for approval and I made a slight nod of approval.
“I will be honored to have him and promise to return when I get better.”
“Merci mademoiselle Amani”
He thanked me one more time and we bid adieu. During the drive, I kept glancing at her as she sang along to the radio’s tunes. I couldn’t believe she had given Mr. Rogers just like that when the two of them were inseparable. By the time we got home, she was tired and I carried her to her bed where she fell asleep quickly. I watched her for a moment, gave her a kiss and then went to watch TV in my room. I thought about calling Esther, but I didn’t want to have to deal with Jack.
Two hours later, she came to my room and got in my bed, asking to sleep with me. Sure, I said as I put my arms around her.
“I dreamed that angels visited Monsieur Francis and made him all better.”
“hmmmm, that would be nice, where have you heard about angels?”
“Grandma had told me about them. Do you believe in angels?”
“I can say I do. I met one today.”
“She’s in the bed with me right now.”
She looked around trying to find her. I laughed and kissed her and said: “You’re my angel.” She hugged me.
Monsieur Francis didn’t get out of the hospital for another two days, but the doctor gave him a perfect bill of health. He walked out with Mr. Rogers in hand. The lessons of French started again the following week and neither of them brought up Mr. Rogers that Francis had. I learned some years later when Amani was about to graduate from high school that he still had it in his closet and had become a sort of inside joke for his wife and children who teased him that he had gotten himself a companion because he had been lonely all these years. He never tried to set the story straight only God knows why, but I know he stayed in touch with Amani over the years.
As for me, well I finally decided to start dating again since Amani was about to leave the nest, and I was glad that she knew that I was always going to be there for her. Esther and Jack were still together but never exchanged vows for reasons that I couldn’t fathom. Et c’est la vie, we make it or break it, seeds are planted and some of us will be surprised when the harvest comes along.