A Letter to My Children

There will come a time when this will end. The cage door will reopen, and you’ll be free again. You will return to school and engage in play. My son will talk of superheroes. My daughter will stare askance at boys, the world turning mute when they catch your eye. Both your knees will graze, shins will be barked, and laughter will be had on the playground. You will only know of this time by conversations you overhear, mostly by those who have lost someone close, but for you, it will only be a footnote in history, an inconvenience. 

There will come a time when this will end, but for now we are living through it, and for all the fear, the anxiety and panic, in the midst of this strangeness, I have found something wonderful. I have found you both again.

We are closer than ever now. In the time before, when things were normal, I felt distant, even though I was sat right next to you. We existed in silos, lost in our reflections from mobile screens, and speaking at times only to bear out our judgment on the trivial, or to approve what we wanted to eat. We employed conversation as a gesture, a weak display of feigned interest, never the gift it was. Your troubles were insignificant, and mine too haunting to voice. If I’m being honest, your interests roused little in me, and the things I loved left you indifferent. The gulf between us was, at times, as apparent as the youth you hold and the age settling into me. 

There will come a time when all this ends and life will return to how it was. For now, understand that I am happy it is here. I am scared, but happy because this awful thing has made me see you again. I see the tiny lines in your hands as you shell pistachios. I see flour handprints on surfaces after baking bread. I see my son’s eyebrows darkening, freckles blotting his nose. His hair is coarser in my hands, his limbs stretching. I see in my daughter’s face shadows of myself as a child, and that I know she is the better version of me, the prettier version. I believed for a long time I had nothing in me to give, that my mind would always see the darker shades of life, never the bright. But for all my faults, I realise now that you are the good in me. You are the love manifested that I did not think existed.

There will come a time when this will end, but for now, let it teach me how to be a better dad.

This virus is bad, and though it takes lives daily and ignites anger in many, it allows the world to heal. Fish can be seen in rivers. The air is better. And we are together, so close that I smell you on my clothes, and hear your voices in dream as if you are whispering in my ear. So for all the bad, there is good, and for all the fear, there is hope. And for all the heartache, there is love. And when this thing ends, because it will, we will have this time to reflect upon, to remember when we laughed during the mayhem, and for one moment saw each other again.

My love forever, Dad.

Published by craigwallwork

Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels, Bad People, Labyrinth of the Dolls, The Sound of Loneliness, To Die Upon a Kiss, and the short story collections, Quintessence of Dust, and Gory Hole. His short stories have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and feature in many anthologies and magazines both in the U.K. and U.S. He currently lives in West Yorkshire.

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