Andrew walked through the door last night at about 7 o’clock. Lily went into a total frenzy. She couldn’t believe it was him. She was in her crate, her tail womping the bars, and she was barking up a storm. Being the new and improved dog owners we are, we totally ignored her. But you know who couldn’t ignore her raucous? Sleeping baby Madeline. She started to cry, and Andrew’s face lit up when I said, “Guess you should go and pick her up!”
I went into her room first and rubbed her back telling her everything was okay. Then I got down to her level and told her, “Your Daddy’s home, Madeline. Do you want to see him?” She looked at me as if she couldn’t understand, as Andy walked into her room. “It’s your Daddy, Maddie! He’s home.” She went straight into his arms and put her head down on his shoulder. They fit together as they always have. He held her like that for a long time. The look on her face, as she rested in his arms, went from bewilderment to a little bit of sadness. I asked her if she wanted to look at her daddy. She came to me and stared into his eyes. I looked back and forth between them. Their similarities were so obvious in the darkened room. His eyes were her eyes, tired and understanding. They had both set their closed lips into a bashful smile. They were relieved. You could see it on their faces. The best buddies, back together.
She went right back to sleep, as though nothing had changed. And this morning she was giggling with him at the changing table. She drank the most milk from her cup she ever has as she lay content in his arms on the couch. I looked at their matching expressions from over the counter as I washed last night’s dishes. Peaceful. He read her six books in a row and told her the names of the animals on her blocks. She put her pretend lipstick on him and laughed as he kissed her. Anything she did, she’d check over her shoulder, making sure he was watching. Watching her walk around the room. Watching her dance to her favorite songs. Watching her scoot around on her train. They wore the same look on their faces again this morning. Pride. The best buddies, father and daughter, my two favorites, back together. And happier than ever.