She was my baby girl. My daughter. Her mother, and her were my two reasons to keep trying, to not give up.
I remember the night well. She was in first grade. She’d had her hair pulled by a boy for the first time. And the teacher had done the wrong thing and said, “That just means he likes you.” My baby girl came home that day, and spent hours in tears, because she’d learned it was OK for boys to pull her hair so hard it hurt, and made her cry.
She fell asleep that night, on my lap, in the rocking chair, while her favorite movie played. A while later, she was soundly sleeping, and I knew it was time to take her upstairs, to her bed, and tuck her in.
As I watched her hug her pillow and quickly drift back into her dreams, I remembered a story my Dad had told me.
“Life is a journey, baby girl. It’s not a destination. Not a task. Not something where you reach a happy place and stop. It’s a journey. It starts with you in a room at the end of a long hallway. So long you wonder if there’s another end to it. There are endless doors down one side of that hallway, and endless windows to let the sunlight in down the other side.
You don’t know what’s down that hallway, so at first you stay where you are, while you peek down that hallway, and try to see what’s there. Until curiosity gets you, and you decide to find out.
You open the first door. Behind it’s a room you’ve never seen. And you see other people inside. They’re talking, playing, drawing, dancing, eating. So, you go inside, and mingle. You explore that room, you meet everyone in it, you find out what they do in that room, what makes them happy, or sad, what foods they like to eat, what flowers they like to look at.
Eventually, you decide you are tired of that room. So, you go back out in the hallway, and walk to the next door. Behind that, you find another room, and everyone there is a bit different. They don’t like the same things. They don’t do the same things. Some of them color. Some of the boys pull the girls hair. Some of the boys fight. Some of the girls hide in a corner, and cry a lot. You don’t really like that room. So, you go back to the hall.
After a few doors, you begin to realize, “Each room is different,” and you start to think, “Maybe I can find a room that I really like. So, you stop in the hallway, and look at all the doors you haven’t opened yet. “But how will I ever find the room for me? How many rooms are there? What if I never find my room?”
I smiled at my baby girl as she hugged her pillow with her eyes closed, and dreams her only world. “That’s the journey, daughter. That’s the journey. Where we each try to find where we belong. Some of us, we find the right room at the start of the hallway. Others, we may never find the room for us. We may search room after room forever.”
I prayed someday my daughter would find her room, the place in the world where she belonged. But, I knew too, from my own life, and the words of my Father. Not all of us do. Some of us are meant to always move from room to room. Searching. Forever.
“Take care of my daughter, Universe.” I blew a kiss at her. “Happy dreams.” I’d visit the school the next day, and talk with them about what had happened. We’d stop the hair pulling. Then, my daughter could move on to the next room on the hallway she walked through life. And see if she belonged there.
I hoped someday she found a room for herself. I’d given up searching long ago. For some of us, there is no room anywhere. Only the journey down the hallway.
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s sixth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. I never know what’s going to happen when I start to write. I just have to get out of my way, and let the story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.