For some girls, “I love you” isn’t enough. It doesn’t satiate all her needs. It leaves an emptiness deep inside their stomachs. Maybe that emptiness is everywhere. It follows them around like Murakami’s sandstorm. I get it. I can see it in her eyes when she hangs her head. I believe none of us are the same but none of us are unique, either. That is how we all found our way here.
It doesn’t have to make sense. I know I am guilty of this. I spend so much energy trying to figure out why I think the things I think and do the things I do that so much passes me by. Can she relate? When she’s spiraling and one thought jumps into another does she know it’s happening or is she helpless to the avalanche?
I could grab a megaphone and scream into it, “I LOVE YOU!” And she wouldn’t hear me. I get it, now. Something happened. She doesn’t trust it. She’s had enough and she’s tired of words. We are all tired of them. The meaning has been sucked out. Words fail. They’re an imperfect vessel to explain something so goddamn human. Maybe we were never meant to have language. But these are the tools I was given, and if “I love you” isn’t enough, then I am going to have to find a better way.
If I could reach inside her, I would. I’d dig out all the waste until I found what matters. What do I tell a woman who has been hurting since she was a little girl? How do I go back in time and create a safe space where she can skip along unafraid? I’ve kissed her forehead 1000 times. I’ve held her just as many. I’ve wiped away her tears. All that helps, but when my arms are wrapped around her, I dare not squeeze too tight. It still feels like she is ready to crumble.
“Look at me! I love you! I fucking love you! Can you not feel this! This is my love bleeding out my pores!” It’s ok if it’s not enough. But see how I don’t turn away. Watch as I carry her across a field of broken glass barefoot. Find me a dragon and I’ll slay it. I will build walls around us brick by brick until my fingertips are raw tender flesh. Is she not safe? Will she ever be? If I stand guard through the dark, does she not trust that I won’t let anything hurt her?
I can’t express this love I feel. She can’t hear this love I feel. I stutter. I throw my hands up. I shrug my shoulders. I kick the ground. I pace back and forth. Where am I going to find the words? I don’t want to lose her. When it starts, I intend to tell her goodbye. I intend to apologize for not being what she needed. I don’t know where it comes from. It isn’t an epiphany. It is more like a shout into the abyss. I brush her hair back off her face. Her beaming eyes look up at me. They are this glossy green, so green they look like burning jade. I whisper these words, “Daddy loves you,” and she melts in my hands. I have to hold her up from falling. I whisper it again, “Daddy loves you,” and now I’m feeling it, too.
We melt together, collapsing onto the cold ground. I only now realize it. She’s been holding her breath. Not just here in this moment. She has been holding her breath since I met her. She has probably been holding it long before that. Her chest expands and contracts for the first time. I kiss her. She kisses me back. Her hands slide up my shoulders into my hair. “Do you know that I love you?” I ask. She nods. I smile. She smiles. We kiss again. I stop to say it once more. “Do you know that your Daddy, loves you?” The green flames in her eyes shed tears but they are brighter than ever. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be reasoned. It’s what she needs to hear. It’s what I need to say. Now that it’s been discovered others can discover it, too. Others need to hear these words. Others need to say them. So, let it be said to the soul. Let it be heard by the soul. “I know you’ve never been safe before but now you are. I’ve found you. I was meant to find you. I’m your Daddy. And your Daddy loves you.”