In the early hours of the morning, my room is dark and quiet. My five year old mind wakes and even though it is much too early to be awake, I cannot fall back to sleep. I can hear the faint sounds of my father rustling papers and rummaging through his drawers in order to get ready for work.
I watch as he walks across the hall to my room and stands in my doorway. The light from the bathroom shines brightly through the window but the shades on my windows keep my room quite dark. My father stands silhouetted, his short but broad and stocky frame filling up the space. He is watching to see if I am awake, I give no word or sign.
He softly pads across the room to my bed, careful not to step on any of the creaky floorboards. I shut my eyes, knowing that this moment would stop if he knew I was awake, and I could sense that he needed this.
Once at the side of my bed, I feel the mattress move slightly as it takes the weight of his hand. He drops to one knee and rests both arms on the bed. I feel the mattress move a little more. My eyes open just a crack to see what is happening, his head is bowed as if he is praying, face in his hands. Tears well up in my eyes. Even at five years old I am not used to seeing him so vulnerable. I squeeze them tight as he raises his head, so he will not see the tears. His strong muscled hand reaches out and gently traces my hairline. I feel the mattress move again as he leans on it to stand up, his damaged knees are not as agile as they once were. Once standing, he leans over and softly kisses my cheek, whispers in my ear before pulling away, “I love you and don’t you ever forget that.”
He turns around to walk gently out of the room, he stops at the doorway to turn around and stare once more.