Belief by Troubleshooter Copyright 2000 all rights reserved.
Today is day four of the Hayden Invasion. I had to come in here and clear my head for a
I woke up about five oclock this morning, thinking I had heard a noise. I had. It
was that little shit, Maya, chasing Arabella down the hall. I got up and threw on a pair
of boxers and a t-shirt and ended up taking Maya outside so she wouldnt wake up
everybody up. That dog gets bursts of energy at the strangest times. Of course, she was
probably sleeping peacefully at the foot of the bed until Arabella jumped up and whacked
the holy hell out of her. Arabella can be a real bitch.
After I tired Maya out, I ended up making some coffee and sitting outside, just listening
to the night noises and waiting for dawn to come. Apparently, Jules mother does not
share Jules penchant for sleeping in, because she appeared at the patio table with a
cup of coffee and settled down in a chair across from me. I looked hopefully at the back
door, but no Jules or Ed appeared. Have I mentioned that Jules mother scares the
hell out of me?
Jules is almost a carbon copy of her mother. Younger, of course. In fact, all of the
Hayden women look alike. It can be intimidating at family get-togethers. Very
intimidating. Ive swapped more than one understanding look with all the husbands and
Morning. If anything, I do have manners.
Good morning, Damian. Youre up a little early, arent you?
A little, I acknowledged. Maya was a little rambunctious. Didnt
want her to wake anybody up. Maya lifted her head and yawned sleepily then laid it
back down in my lap and closed her eyes. If I didnt know better, Id think she
was trying to make a liar out of me. The dog. Not Jules mother.
She turned her chair slightly so that she could look out over the backyard.
Its very peaceful out here.
Mmmm, I agreed as I sipped my coffee.
We silently drank our coffee for a little while. I...she makes me nervous. Kind of like
Jules did when we first started going out. Shes arrestingly honest and
straightforward. And shes got that same way about her that Jules has of getting
information out of you. I thought of what Ed had said.... Shell get it out of
you eventually. Make it easy on yourself. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose. I
I felt those eyes turn on me. Here it comes, I thought.
Juliana tells me you have to go in tomorrow morning for reevaluation.
Maam...you make me feel old. She snorted a little and took another sip
of coffee. Are you thinking of going back to the job?
Dont know if theyll let me. Its true. I dont know if
they will. Seems the shrink isnt too pleased with what I did.
Give me one of those damn cigarettes.
I looked at her, surprised. Im pretty sure my jaw was hanging open as I slid the
pack and lighter across the table.
Her nose wrinkled a little bit and she almost whispered, Dont tell Juliana.
Shed kill me.
What was it with these Hayden women? Jules is sneaking around wanting to have sex at the
oddest times and her mothers sneaking a smoke. I wont.
Uh huh, she said knowingly. I know Juliana. A little batting of the
eyelashes and youd spill your guts.
I started to protest, but then stopped and laughed. Shes right. Maybe thats
the Hayden womens secret weapon. Marilyn probably started teaching all of them that
when they were still babies. Damn. I never stood a chance. Probably.
Zippo...havent seen one of these in ages, she commented as she lit her
cigarette. I always loved the smell of the lighter fluid. She closed the top
of the lighter with a click and set it back on the table. So, if theyll take
you back, will you go?
Do I want to go back? I thought about it and realized that I hadnt really thought
that much about going back to the job. I mean, I have, but I havent. I definitely
hadnt made any decisions. I...I dont know.
I heard the crackle of the tobacco and paper as she took a drag on her cigarette.
Youll know when youre ready to know.
What the hell was that supposed to mean? I imagine so.
How does my daughter feel about it?
Uh oh, I thought. My daughter. Somehow, I always get the feeling that when she uses
that term, my answer had better be the right answer. This was no exception. I had no clue
what the right answer was. I wondered if she yelled when she got angry, or if she would
want to talk about it. I hoped that she would yell. I like it so much better when Jules
yells. I...I dont know, I mumbled and returned my gaze to the tree line,
waiting for the repercussions. I had the feeling that it wasnt the right answer.
She didnt yell. Instead, she was silent for awhile as I sat there thinking about why
I didnt know how Jules felt about me going back to work. Why didnt I know how
Jules felt about it? I know how she felt about it before all this happened. We had talked
about it on different occasions. Does she feel any differently now? Why would her mother
ask that? Did Jules say something to her about my job?
Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words.
She finally asked, Hows my daughter doing?
How is her daughter doing? She...has her good days and her bad. She misses him very
much. I...sometimes, I find her...just staring out of the window...or looking at a picture
of him. She hurts.... My voice trailed off.
I scanned the tree line. How am I? I feel like I died, without all the fringe benefits of
death. The one...the only thing that makes me feel alive is when your daughter touches
me...looks at me. Im okay.
Hows your arm? Even her voice...it sounds like Jules.
Which one, I wanted to ask. The left one that had been broken or the right one where they
had put the shunt while I was on dialysis so I wouldnt strain my good kidney?
Rights fine. Left hurts when were gonna have bad weather.
So whats the forecast?
I had to laugh. Clear, hot, humid...afternoon thunder showers a possibility.
Thats some arm. Julianas lucky to have you
Nah...typical South Louisiana weather.
Shes still lucky to have you.
I felt her eyes on me. I couldnt look at her. Id rather she had
Theres a rule. Her voice sounded distant, remote. Parents are
supposed to die before their children. Its something every parent knows. I...think
whoever makes those rules needs to add another one. Every grandparent is supposed to die
before their grandchildren. Her voice broke on the last sentence.
I turned my head and looked at her. Tears rolled down her cheeks. I...I had no idea what
to do...what to say. Im...sorry.
Im sorry, too. So very sorry. Her hand brushed at the falling tears.
I dont know how to make this any better for the two of you. You have to do
that....together. My daughter loves you very much. I know.... Please...remember that you
have each other. Dont lose sight of that fact. I dont want either of you to be
hurt any more than you already have been. Her eyes dropped down to her coffee mug.
I need...some more coffee. She stood and went into the house without another
I stared at the door for a long time after she went inside.
Sometimes, I just feel numb. Inside. Outside. Just numb. Its always been that way.
Me, I mean, having these periods of numbness. Even when I was little. I really dont
know how to describe it. I can think about the best things that happened to me or the
worst, and I just dont feel it. Nothing. Like Im stone. Its...cold. I
dont even feel lonely. Just hollow, mostly. Empty.
Thats how I felt at the end of our conversation. I dont like it any more. The
first time this happened when I was with Jules, I think it scared her. Scratch that. I
know it did. Harry Becnel had filed some papers with the court asking them to grant Diego
asylum. We had been dealing with the Mexican consulate, and no one was cooperating. If you
think its hard trying to adopt in the U.S., try Mexico. Harry figured it would be
easier if the U.S. had, I guess, custody of him. We had gone to the hearing. As I heard
the judge say, Denied, I could feel the numbness set in.
We went to lunch with Harry after that. Its not that I cant function when it
happens. I can. Very well, actually. Im just not very reactive emotionally. At least
thats what Jules says happens. I think I agree with that. I never had anybody talk
to me about it before. Maybe other people noticed it, but I didnt and nobody else
ever told me they did. He talked about what losing the hearing meant and how he would
appeal, and all that legal crap that he needed to do.
Jules kept looking at me strangely during lunch. I had to go back to work after lunch.
There were people from some of the other task forces in town and we were having meetings.
When I got home that night, Jules was upset. I could tell but she still kissed me hello.
At least she did kiss me. She never doesnt do something because shes angry or
upset with me. Its...shes consistent like that. That means a lot to me.
Consistency is very important. I never had a lot of that in my life. Its Jules
way of letting me know that even if shes upset or angry, that she still loves me.
I figured that she was upset about the hearing, so, needless to say, I was a little
surprised when she asked me what was wrong.
Nothing, I responded.
She looked at me for a long time. I...Youre.... She started and stopped
and stared some more. It was uncomfortable and I started fidgeting. Are you upset
about what happened today?
I knew I was supposed to be, but I couldnt feel it. Um, yeah. She looked
at me expectantly. Apparently, there was more that I should have said, but I didnt
know what it was. Are you? Its all I could think of.
Well, of course, I am, Damian. I feel incredibly frustrated and angry about this. I
dont understand why the judge would deny Diego asylum. Hes just a little boy
and he shouldnt be put through any more hell.
Why are you apologizing? You didnt do anything.
I...dont know. I.... I really had no earthly idea why I was apologizing.
It just seemed like the thing to do at the time.
Jules moved closer to me and rubbed my arm. Do you want to talk about it?
Whatevers bothering you. Damian, youre acting... I dont
know. She put her arms around me and hugged me. Its gonna be okay,
honey. Well win the appeal, and if not, we can request a re-hearing. Harry said we
have a good chance at that. Please...dont give up hope on this.
Her last words...hope. I didnt feel any. I didnt feel any thing. I was silent.
Please...tell me whats bothering you. She drew back and looked up into
my eyes. One of her hands caressed my cheek. There were tears in her eyes.
I had to say something. She was getting really upset. I dont feel.
Those green eyes.... With one look, she can do so much to me...take me higher than
Ive ever been before or devastate me. Her voice was so soft, so gentle.
Dont feel what? I suppose she assumed that I hadnt finished my
sentence. But I had.
Anything. Her eyes searched my face. I could see her trying to understand.
I...since I was little...I just go numb sometimes. I shrugged my shoulders
lightly. How could I explain it to her when I didnt understand it myself? I still
dont really understand what happens, but I know what to do about it now.
I dont understand, Damian.
I...I.... I searched for words. No angry, no happy, no
sad...nothing. I couldnt stand to look in her eyes anymore, so I looked away.
Kind of empty?
I nodded. Thats the word I was looking for, I thought. Empty.
I felt a gentle pressure against my jaw. It was her hand, urging me to look at her. I did.
Her head tilted up and she stood on her tiptoes and started to kiss me. It was a gentle,
loving kiss. The kind that makes your soul sigh.
Did you feel that?
Not so empty anymore? she asked, a little unsure.
I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close, my lips brushing the top of her head.
Yeah, baby, not so empty anymore. And I wasnt.
It took a long time for me to realize that I didnt have to feel that way. Not as
long as I had Jules. So thats what I did after her mother went inside. I went to
Gotta go now. Jules just came to get me. Day four of the Hayden Invasion continues.
Were launching an assault on New Orleans proper. I have a feeling Im going to
be a pack mule today. Jules and her mother have already been talking about which antique
shops were going to visit on Magazine Street.
Today has been a whirlwind. We got back just a little while ago. We went into New Orleans
for the day, and, as it turned out, for part of the night. Shopping can be incredibly
tiring. Im pretty certain that we didnt miss many stores. It was a great day,
though, and I really enjoyed it. It felt really good to enjoy it.
Damians already gone to bed. Shes tired from doing her beast of burden duties
today. She is really very indulgent. I have to laugh. Ill show her something and
ask, Honey, do you think this would look good in the living room next to the
Shell laugh in return. If you think so, baby, go ahead and get it.
Not exactly a response to my question, but its about as good as I usually get. She
says that she has no taste. She even jokes that she needs...oh, what are they called...
those kids clothes that had the animals sewn into the labels so you were assured of
a match? Grrranimals. Thats it. Adult Grrranimals. But its not that. She does
have an excellent eye for things. She just doesnt care about material things. They
mean nothing to her. Our walls could be bare and she wouldnt care. Shed care
if it meant something to me, but not because it meant anything to her.
The first time I went into her apartment it seemed so Spartan, at least to me. It
wasnt cold or anything like that, it was just, well, so Damian. It was neat,
ordered, practical. Everything was tasteful, but it was definitely not overdone. There
werent a lot of knickknacks on the bookshelves or things on the walls. Not that
Im a knickknack person. But I do have things, mementos I suppose you could call
them, from the places Ive visited. Some Ive bought. A painting. A piece of
sculpture. Earrings. Others Ive just picked up. A rock. A piece of wood. A book of
matches. Things that call to mind people Ive met or places Ive visited.
I think the thing that struck me the most was that there were no pictures of people
anywhere, save one next to her bed of an older woman whose smile extended from ear to ear.
I could tell that the picture was old. The woman was standing in a kitchen and there were
very large pots on the stove behind her. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the stove
the pots rested on was like the kind youd find in a restaurant.
We had made love and were lying in the bed, relaxing. Her head was resting on my stomach
and I was idly running one hand through her hair. I asked her about the picture.
The cook from St. Vincents.
That seemed like such a sterile explanation to me. Damian had obviously had the picture
for a long time. And this picture was the only one in her apartment. No pictures of family
or friends. Then I remembered that she didnt have a family to have pictures of. I
wondered if this woman, the cook, was like Damians family. Whoever she was, she was
obviously an important part of Damians life, or at least had been.
Whats her name?
Thats a beautiful name.
I felt her head nod in agreement.
Sometimes, when I talk to Damian, I feel like a dentist taking a stroll through the
countryside in Afghanistan. Getting information is like pulling teeth and one wrong step
and theres an explosion. Sometimes, with her, its an implosion. I know
thats a mixed metaphor, but its very accurate.
Ive learned to not worry about it. I ask the questions I need to ask and deal with
what happens. Ive realized that the anger she displays sometimes is not directed at
me. Its from keeping everything inside and not knowing how to let it out. I
cant tell you that it doesnt hurt, because it does. I want her to feel like
she can tell me anything and that it will be okay, because thats the way I feel. I
think that she finally does feel like that, but its taken a long time. And old
habits are very hard to break. I still pull teeth sometimes.
She seems very nice. I know you really cant tell from a picture if
someones nice, but if that smile was any indication, she was a wonderful person.
Was she...important to you? I waited so long for an answer that I didnt
think I was going to get one.
Thats who taught me Spanish.
Ah, I thought, not exactly an answer, but Damian must have spent a lot of time with her to
learn Spanish. Do you still see her?
She moved away. Her voice was so cold that my skin chilled where her breath
moved across it.
I wanted to cry. My love, my mind whispered to hers, someone you loved left you again. I
didnt pursue it any further that day. Instead, I moved down and held her.
Damian worried me a little bit this morning. She woke me up before the sun even came up
and laid her head on my belly and curled up into a fetal position. She generally
doesnt do that, so that concerned me. Whats wrong, angel?
She lifted her head slightly and looked up at me. I saw that look in her eye. It made my
stomach turn. I hadnt seen that look in so long. I dont even know if I can
describe it. When she looks like that, she says she feels numb...has no feelings.
Im not sure what she means by that. I dont think Ive ever been numb. At
least not without some outside event triggering it. There have been a few occasions in my
career where Ive been scared out of my mind and didnt think about the fear, or
anything else for that matter, except what I needed to do to get out of harms way. I
imagine that I operated more as an automaton, just reacting to the situation. But the
feelings returned full force as soon as the danger was over, bringing with them the weak
knees and roiling stomach.
I think that its a coping mechanism for her when she needs some relief from the
pain. She buries those feelings so deep and puts her mind on auto-pilot. Actually, come to
think of it, Im surprised this hasnt happened before with everything
thats happened. I did the only thing Ive ever known to do for her. I kiss her
and hold her. It seems to work. Words have no effect.
Ive done some research on orphans. When we started the adoption process with Diego,
I had gone to the library to do some research. One of the librarians, Kasinda, who as I
found out later knew Damian from her frequent trips there, pointed out an article to me.
We were talking about the origin of her name. I had met a woman named Kasinda in South
Africa and I told her that I thought it was a beautiful name. One thing led to another and
we started talking about adoption and orphans.
I cant recall the name of the article, although Im sure its still packed
away in the files somewhere. The author, a child psychologist, brought up some very
interesting points. He cited a medical study that had been conducted on children who had
been orphaned. Ill spare you the technical details and get to the point. It seemed
that the orphans production of a certain chemical during the fight or flight
response was significantly less than the amount produced by children that had been raised
by their biological parents. They were less reactive to stressors and werent as
easily frightened, surprised, scared, etc.
It struck me because it fit so perfectly with Damians behavior and I wondered about
the validity of the study. I had always assumed that she was just very good at hiding
things. I still think she is very good at hiding things to some extent, but I definitely
think that being an orphan has had an impact. I did some further research that day, and
went home to present my findings to Damian. It was clear to me that we were going to have
to make some decisions.
We.... Im not really sure in this whole thing where it changed from a Damian
adopting Diego thing to a Damian and Jules adopting Diego thing. I
dont recall ever sitting down and talking about it and having us make a conscious
decision. It seemed to have happened so naturally.
I came home with the articles. I was still living by myself at the time. We never did
officially move in together until we bought the house, but Damian was there as much as she
could be with the odd hours that she worked. I sat down and curled up in my reading chair
and started reading all the articles. There were seven total at the time.
Neither of us are stupid or innocent. Weve both experienced a lot and seen a lot of
things. But I felt totally clueless about what we were getting into by the time she got
there. Dont get me wrong. It wasnt in a bad way that I was thinking about the
adoption. I wanted to make sure that we did things right. That Diego had every opportunity
to be loved and to grow. I wanted to make sure that we provided a good home for him.
Ive found that love alone, sometimes, isnt enough to insure success, and from
what I had been reading, Diego would be facing some adjustment problems, not only from the
language barrier, but from his past. I think I knew that in the back of my mind, but it
was colored by my delusion that love would conquer all. Maybe it does, but you can lend it
a helping hand. And this was way too important not to find and use all the helping hands
we could get.
I showed her that article and the others that I had found. We had a long discussion into
the night about what would be best for Diego. We had already gotten a tutor for him very
early on. He was so behind, education wise, only able to read a little bit of written
Spanish. My angel. He was so bright. Maybe part of that is a mothers pride speaking,
but putting that aside, he was a bright little boy.
One of the things that I think we did right with Diego was that Damian and I both were
very committed to putting him first. We didnt do it perfectly, but the commitment
was there nonetheless. Its hard to balance life sometimes. You make a decision at
the time that seems like a right one and find out later that you chose wrong. You learn
from your mistakes and go on.
The end result of our discussion that night was that we would bring Diego to a child
psychologist. That first visit we brought Diego... How we got through that, Ill
never know. Damian and I met with him prior to bringing Diego in. I had lots of questions.
Damian wanted to size him up. To the mans credit, he survived meeting Damian and her
interrogation. Hes okay, she grudgingly admitted after it was over. I
had to smile. My angel is so protective.
Damian has an inherent distrust of people. Its not a paranoia. She doesnt
think everyone has ulterior motives or anything like that. She doesnt just
automatically trust someone. I think thats a good thing, actually. I tend to be a
bit too trusting.
The first time we brought Diego to see Scott...that was his name, Scott Harrelson...we
were seated in the waiting room. Well, I was seated and Damian was stalking around the
tiny waiting room. If I heard How long has it been? once, I heard it a
thousand times that hour. She finally sat in the chair next to me when I told her she was
acting like a child on a long trip. I had heard enough of that in my lifetime from my
sisters and brothers when I was little...the proverbial When are we going to get
there? and you hadnt even pulled out of the driveway yet.
Diego came out of Scotts office with a big smile on his face. Damian was exhausted
from the stalking back and forth. I wondered if we were going to go through this every
time. Diego loved Scott. He got to play with toys during his visits. We did family visits
as well. Damian liked playing with the toys as well. I was amazed at the things she told
Scott when she was preoccupied with the toys. It was almost off-handed. Like she
wasnt really thinking about it.
Shes going to the department psychiatrist tomorrow. I wonder if he has toys. I
suspect that would be the only way hell get anything out of her. I knew the
appointment was coming up. I should have talked to her about it before. With mom and dad
here, we havent had much alone time. She doesnt have to go until ten. I think
Ill set the alarm and wake us up early so well hopefully have some alone time.
I need to get to sleep. Good night.
Fucking assholes! God damn mother fucking assholes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sanctimonious pieces of crap. Thats what they are.
Not one shrink, but two! I could not believe it when I walked into that fucking office. I
expected to see Limp Dick, but he had another person with him. A woman. Anne Kastl.
Whoever the hell she is.
Limp Dick tells me, We thought it would be best to bring in someone else.
Who the fuck is we? I sat down. Why?
Damian. He got that look on his face.
I hate how fucking patronizing they are. I wanted to slap that look off of his face. You
know the one. It says I know whats best so shut up and do as youre
told. And saying my name. Its one of those tricks they use to make you seem
important to them...to personalize the relationship. Hes got another thought coming
if he thinks using my names gonna endear him to me in some way. Asshole.
I thought that it would be better if we could get someone elses perspective on
I nodded my head.
Dr. Kastl and I have discussed your case. He motioned to the woman sitting
across from him like I had forgotten who she was. I may be a homicidal maniac, but I can
still remember peoples names. I had to sit on the couch. I hate that couch. Why do
shrinks have couches anyway? It seems that youre uncomfortable speaking with
me about what happened. Were not making as much progress as I had hoped.
Uncomfortable? Really? How perceptive. How about I hate your guts? And we
arent making progress because there is no we. The only we
Ive ever been a part of is Jules and Diego. And part of my we is gone.
Fuck you and your we, Limp Dick. Ive made a lot of progress.
Its true. I dont feel like killing myself every day anymore.
Why dont you share that progress with us?
How about I dont and we can pretend I did? Then I can get the hell out of here. I
promised Jules I would try to talk to him. Fucking promises. What would you like to
know? I tried to say it nicely.
Dr. Kastl decided it was time to add her two cents. Why dont you tell us how
youre feeling right now?
Like I want to go back to work. Im ready to get on with my life.
Are you? Kastl asked.
I wanted to scream. What had I just said? Yes. I do.
It pretty much went like that the rest of the two hours. It was pure, absolute torture. I
dont understand how they can expect me to talk about this with them when I can
hardly talk about it with Jules.
At the end, they wouldnt give me an answer to the one question I wanted an answer
to. Can I go back to work?
Well write up our report and forward our recommendation to your commanding
I dont know why Im so pissed off about this. I guess its because I want
someone whos experienced what I have to be the one thats judging me and not
some spineless, wimpy-assed shrink sitting in a nice comfortable office. Has anyone ever
kidnapped his little boy? Who is he to tell me what I should feel or think or how much
progress I should be making?
He says that my reactions were extreme for the situation. Ive got news for him. He
hasnt seen an extreme reaction from me. I want him to tell me what his choice would
have been. They shouldnt have taken my boy. They got what they deserved. Id do
it again in a heartbeat. I want him to tell me what he would have done with an
inconsolable wife who only wanted her boy back.
Vicentes shoot was justified, in Limp Dicks eyes. I was defending myself.
Defending my fellow officers from a maniac with a gun threatening their lives. Good job,
Lieutenant DAvanti. Heres your medal and your psych clearance. Back to work
now. Does he think that made it any easier for me to live with the fact that I had killed
But this. This is somehow different to him. I went after them. No medal. No psych
clearance. No good job. Thats the only thing I agree with him on.
I dont even know why it matters to me. I said I wanted to go back. But I dont
know. They all think Im a homicidal maniac anyway. They thought that long before
this happened. I dont disagree totally. I am homicidal, if that means youve
killed someone and are apt to kill again. Threaten my life or the life of someone I love
and I will kill to protect. Its the maniac part that I have trouble with. Maniac
implies that there was no reason or logic to what I did and there was. Why cant he
understand that? All I wanted was our boy back.
I think I should have sent toys to Dr. Richards office. I must admit, though, that
she doesnt seem to be as angry as the last time she went to see him. I dont
know if its because my parents are here, or because it went better than the last
time. I hope its because it went better than last time.
We havent had time to talk about what happened at her reevaluation. My parents and I
were just finishing up lunch when she got back. She had that full body mask on, and every
answer was fine or okay or the usual. I used to accept
those answers, but I dont like them anymore. She grabbed a quick bite to eat, and
then excused herself and wrote a little. Now shes outside with dad and Maya, doing
God knows what somewhere in the woods. Moms taking a swim and I decided I needed to
write a little bit.
Ive been enjoying mom and dad visiting, but..... Theres always a
but, isnt there? It was really great for the first few days, but I miss
the alone time with Damian. Like today, when she came home. I wanted to talk to her about
it, but I know she wouldnt have said much in front of my parents.
Sometimes, all I want to do is isolate. Its...I think that if we stay in our own
little part of the world, and not bother anybody, then nothing else bad will happen. I
realize thats totally unrealistic, and I know that isnt good for me or for
I get angry with myself for thinking that. I wasnt ever like that before everything
happened. Life was...balanced, and now the scales have been thrown horribly out of
alignment. I wonder sometimes what it will take to get it back in balance or even if it
can ever be balanced again. I know that it cant ever go back to being like it was as
much as I want that.
I know that this has changed me...how I think...whats truly important...irrevocably.
I know its changed her. I dont think that the changes are necessarily bad for
either of us. Thats the thing about life. Most everything in it is a double-edged
sword. Life cuts both ways. To me its about choices. I can either let this have a
negative impact on me, or turn it into a positive thing. Making lemonade when life hands
I just reread that paragraph. Positive.... Its still so hard for me to see anything
positive about this. I know its there. Experience has taught me that. I find it so
hard to believe, though.
Im a lot more serious than I used to be. Thats not to say I was a flighty,
dumb blonde before. Everything means so much more now. I wish I hadnt had to learn
that lesson this way. I wish I had known it before. I dont know if I would have done
much differently, but I would have paid more attention...not allowed myself to get caught
up in things that are really insignificant. I measure things now against a standard that I
didnt have before. Its as if my thought process pauses, pulls out the memories
of what happened and judges whats going on against them.
This morning, Damian dressed in uniform for her visit to Dr. Richard. Something about the
way she looked in that uniform always made me hot. The NOPD uniform is shades of blue. The
pants are a deep midnight blue and the shirts a kind of sky blue. It always did
interesting things for her eyes.
I hadnt seen her in uniform since everything happened. She came out of the bedroom
and I felt the little surge of adrenalin shoot straight down between my legs. Memories
flooded my mind. The creak of the leather of her gun belt. How her leather jacket smelled,
its subtle whispers as she moved. Except this time, it was quickly followed by an icy fear
that grabbed my heart. That uniform...what she was...is...it represents so much more now.
The dangers been personalized. Our lives have been directly impacted by it. Not that
it wasnt before, but in a different way. We were never the story. But then our world
collided with life.
That day I got the phone call from Damian asking me to come home...I knew something was
terribly wrong. As she spoke, I could see in my minds eye that little muscle in her
jaw twitching as she fought for control. Her voice was strained, haunted.
She never really calls me Juliana anymore. When shes upset or very serious is
usually when she uses my full name. She wouldnt tell me what was wrong.
Whats the matter? My mind raced as I tried to think of a reason for the
obvious distress in her voice. And then it hit me. I couldnt believe how calm I
sounded. Honey, let me speak with Diego.
The silence before she responded seemed like an eternity. Please...please,
Juliana...just come home now.
I knew. I knew then, as surely as I know that the sun rises in the East, that something
had happened to our boy.
I dont remember leaving the office or the drive home. I only remember her pulling
the door open and standing there in her uniform. That was the last time i saw her in
uniform. It could have been like a hundred other days of me coming home from
work....Damian there to greet me, Maya bouncing up and down, Arabella meowing for food and
Diego squirming around Damian to get to me to give me a hug.
But it wasnt. Damian stood just inside the door. Maya sat still next to Damian.
Arabella was perched silently on the kitchen counter.
The little details...the ones that tell the story. They were telling me a story I
didnt want to hear. I got angry.
Where is my boy? I demanded.
I...dont know. Damians voice cracked.
The mind...its a funny thing...a very fragile, funny thing. It could be my mind, her
mind or even your mind. It doesnt matter. It causes us to do things that we
wouldnt normally do under stressful circumstances. It protects us. I think that
sometimes, my subconscious causes me to react in a certain way that really is best for the
situation at the time. When I look back on a situation, I see a hundred different things I
could have done differently...said differently, but what happened is what needed to happen
at the time.
I yelled at her. Where is Diego?
I could see her visibly straighten and gather herself. That full body mask slipped into
place. I felt grateful. Was it selfish of me to feel that? I dont know. I needed her
to be strong, because I felt like I was teetering on the edge of sanity right then.
He wasnt at school when I went to pick him up.
I was still standing in our carport as I started screaming again. Why arent
you looking for him?
I...we...Juliana, please. Come inside, honey. Ill tell you what I know.
Her hand was shaking as she reached out and took my arm and pulled me in.
She sat me down at the kitchen table and explained to me that she had gone to pick him up
from school. He wasnt there. She went inside to look for him, couldnt find him
and fifteen minutes later, the police and FBI were swarming all over the place. She came
home to tell me. Theyll be here soon. It was as if she was reassuring
me. The only thing that would reassure me would be seeing our boy.
The doorbell rang. I watched her get up to answer the door.
I hope he has his coat with him. Its cold. I dont want him to be
cold. I had no idea what I was saying. I had no idea what we were going to do.
Im worried about Jules. Shes been so quiet. We got in bed last night and it
was like she was just clinging to me. Its not that I have a problem with that.
Its...I can tell somethings wrong. I wrapped my arms around her and asked her
if she wanted to talk. She said no. That is so unlike her.
She didnt sleep well last night. She had nightmares. I can tell when she has them.
She struggles. I dont know what shes struggling against. She makes little
painful noises. Sometimes she cries. She cried last night.
Weve talked about her nightmares. She says that theyre just very hazy and that
shes very frightened in them. She doesnt know what it is thats
frightening her. Just that shes terrified. I wake her up when she has them and I
hold her. It seems to help.
I hate that she has nightmares. She had them before all this happened, but they were few
and far between. Shes seen a lot of things. Maybe more than I have. Or at least more
things in a different context. Jules never did easy stories when she was freelancing. She
always put herself right in the middle of everything. Shes got a lot of courage.
The moon was really full last night, and bright. I studied her face when she was sleeping.
Shes looking better. For weeks, she had dark circles under eyes. I traced a few
lines at the corners of her eyes. I used to tease her about them. Wed lay in bed at
night and talk. That was our time, after we had put Diego to bed.
She says Im stubborn. Ive got news for you. I cant hold a candle in the
stubborn department to Juliana Lee Hayden. She hates wearing her glasses. Theyre
just reading glasses and she looks adorable in them. She writes poetry sometimes.
Shed read me some of it at night. I always had to hand her the glasses, because
shed never put them on. Id reach for them and then dangle them in front of
her. Missing something, grandma?
If looks could kill, I would have died a thousand deaths. But then shed laugh and
thank me. She asked me one night if she thought that we were going to be grandmothers.
That question floored me. I mean, I had never imagined myself a mother, much less a
grandmother. Anythings possible, was my answer.
It certainly seemed so at the time. I had more than I had ever dreamed of. I was happier
than I ever had a right to be. We had a little boy, who would grow up and become a man.
Maybe hed get married, have kids. Yeah, baby, we just might be
But its not possible now. I dont know whats possible now.
People say that things happen for a reason. When they say it, its always with that
little intonation that it was for the best. I cant think of a single fucking reason
why all this happened. At least not any reason that would make it for the best. Is it just
because they have no idea what to say? Or do they not want to be honest? I think Id
rather them say, Hey, life sucks sometimes. Bad things happen. Lifes cruel.
Live with it, DAvanti. It just is what it is. No rhyme. No reason.
Life is cruel. If you dont think so, look around you. Theres evidence of it
everywhere. Is the cruelty the price we pay for the joy and happiness? What kind of god
devised that payment plan?
Ive notified families about deaths before. Shown up, ringing their doorbell in the
middle of the night, to tell them. You know how everything was okay when you went to
sleep? Well, guess what? It aint now. Little Johnny decided that the family sedan
could fly and he decided to test that theory as he came around that curve on I-610 at 110
miles an hour. He found out differently. Hes not coming home. Ever. Hang onto your
memories, because thats all thats left.
How cruel is that? They know, when they open the door, that its not good news.
Its never good news when a cop shows up at your door at three a.m. Especially if
its a rank. Rank does injury and death notifications. You can see it in their faces.
They hate you. You can see the denial. Youre wrong. Its not
possible. There must be some mistake.
And you stand there and insist that it is no mistake. That youre not wrong. That it
is entirely possible. Because life is cruel and it just is what it is.
One of the cruelest things Ive ever done was to tell Jules that someone had taken
our little boy. I took away her joy and happiness with those words. I looked at her and
watched as my words reached inside her and ripped out her heart. Tell me that life
Good afternoon. Its Sunday, thank God. My parents will be gone in the morning.
Its not that it hasnt been great to have them here, because it has. I love
them very much. And I know Damian does, too. Its always very interesting to watch
her relate to them. That whole parental thing...it makes her really
uncomfortable at times. She thought there was this certain mystique to becoming a parent.
Kind of like, once you became a parent, you were raised to some level of knowledge and
wisdom that others were forbidden to have. You would magically become as close to perfect
as you could get...all-knowing, all-seeing...hell, all-American as far as I could figure.
She quickly discovered that there was nothing mystical about it.
I learned long ago that parents make mistakes. It wasnt exactly a rude awakening for
me, but I remember the first time my mom sat me down and told me that she was sorry and
that she had made a mistake. I dont remember what it was about. Something
inconsequential, Im sure, but I remember being slightly dismayed at the thought that
they made mistakes. I was forced to reconsider my concept of parent. I think
thats a good thing, and something that was a vital part of my learning about life.
Damian, on the other hand, thought parents were perfect. I can still remember the
conversation we had when she realized she had made a mistake with Diego. We were sitting
at the kitchen table on a Saturday morning drinking coffee. Damian had been working
nights, and had Friday off and was trying to get back in the swing of being awake during
the day. She had come home early Friday morning and slept for just a little while, then
got up and stayed up, exhausted and cranky for the rest of the day, picked Diego up from
school and stumbled back into bed shortly after I had gotten home. And we had just gotten
Maya. We hadnt even named her yet.
Her eyes narrowed as she stared at me. Jules, are you sure?
Yes, Im sure.
Its not possible, she stated adamantly.
Honey, Im telling you it happened. When I got up this morning, the damn dog
was on the counter, rooting through the box of croissants. I have no idea how many of them
she ate. There were crumbs everywhere.
Its not possible, she stated again, a little less sure of herself as her
eyes glanced over to the counter top.
It is very possible, I assured her. That dog is part monkey.
She looked back at the counter top and then let her eyes survey the room. How did
she get up there?
I shrugged. I have no idea.
Shes too little to have jumped. Christ, she only weighs five pounds.
Shes just a puppy.
The dog in question trotted into the room, her nails clicking on the floor. She stopped,
looked at both of us and then the counter top before looking at us again. I swear her
belly was swollen from those croissants. Then she turned and trotted out again.
We need to get her to the vet. Shes got shots due and I want to have her nails
Jules, that dog could not have gotten up on the counter by herself.
I sighed. Sweetheart, Diegos still sleeping, you were sleeping and I certainly
didnt put her up on the counter.
But....it...she.... Her eyes dropped and she stared into her coffee cup. She
finally said, I need to apologize.
I was confused. Very confused. Youre going to apologize to the dog?
Im not sure Im going to make a very good parent.
I mentally reviewed the number of cups of coffee we had already consumed. Only one so far.
We had just started on the second one. Damian usually wakes up bright-eyed and
bushy-tailed, except when she was finishing a stretch of nights. Perhaps she needed more
coffee. Or maybe I did.
Okay, I thought, she hasnt answered my question about apologizing to the dog, but
even if she did need to apologize to the dog, how would that impact on her fitness as a
parent? I definitely needed more coffee.
Youre already an excellent parent.
No, Im not. The distress was clear in her voice.
Sometimes, trying to piece Damians verbal conversation together, along with the one
she carries on with herself in her head, is really difficult. Shell be so far ahead
in her thought process that you have to make giant leaps in your own thought processes to
handle some of the statements that seem to come from left field. I hadnt had enough
coffee to make any size leap right then.
Damian, slow down for a second.
Why do you need to apologize to the dog?
She blinked at me. Why would I apologize to the dog?
You said..... I stopped. Maybe she meant she needed to apologize to me. I had
no idea why she would think that. I had barely seen her yesterday, and when I climbed in
bed last night, the only thing she did was roll over, grab me and grunt a little. But I
was starting to get a little irritated. It was seven oclock on a Saturday morning,
after all, and I hadnt finished my second cup of coffee yet. An apology directed to
me was starting to sound pretty good. My mind could manufacture some offense that I could
apply it to. I told myself to take a deep breath.
Her eyes squinted as she looked at me. Apologize to the dog? she questioned
again. She sounded as confused as I felt.
I waved my hand at her. Forget the dog. Like the dog would understand an
apology anyway. If she wanted to apologize to the dog, she could. I didnt care about
the dog right then.
What makes you think youre not a good parent?
I...the dog was.....
Not the damn dog again, I thought. I cut her off. Honey, do you consider yourself
the dogs parent?
Well...no. She sounded slightly offended.
Then please forget the dog.
But...I...yesterday afternoon, I yelled at Diego for putting the.... She
hesitated for a moment. Puppy...on the counter.
I finished a huge swallow of coffee. I wondered if the morning light that had just crept
in through the kitchen window was natures signal for dawning realization as
everything clicked into place in my mind. Its times like these that I realize
exactly how much I love her.
Damian, first of all, you dont yell. She really doesnt. And she
has the patience of fifty Jobs. You made a mistake. Youll make more. So will
I. Just talk to him about it. Its not the end of the world. Youre a wonderful
Parents dont make mistakes. She said that with all the conviction in the
Yes, they do. Theyre not perfect.
I thought...parents arent supposed to make mistakes.
In an ideal world, they dont. But this isnt an ideal world. If this is
the worst mistake we ever make as parents, well be damn lucky.
I dont like it.
Neither do I, but were not perfect. I could see by the look on her face
that I wasnt very convincing.
I didnt even listen to him when he told me he didnt do it. Her
tone was full of self-reproach.
I reached for her hand and held it, my thumb rubbing the back of her hand. You
didnt think the dog could get up there without help. I wouldnt have thought
the dog could, had I not seen it with my own two eyes, half-awake as I may have
been. I gave her a gentle smile. The important thing is that you tell him you
were wrong and apologize to him. Thats how hell learn that its okay to
make mistakes, and that you rectify them if you can.
Jesus, Jules. Whatever made me think I could do this? She shook her head.
I never even had parents.
Ah, a little insecurity and fear raising its ugly head, I thought as I reflected on what
she had just said. I always have to remember that she does have those moments, because
most of the time shes so damn competent and in control. I love her for her
weaknesses. I think it makes me love her even more, really. It may be a little bit of my
ego talking, but I dont like perfect. And knowing how closely guarded she keeps her
feelings and emotions, its an excellent sign to me that she loves me and trusts me.
Id rather lose my right arm than betray that trust.
You thought you could do it because you can. I leaned over and kissed her
softly. My angel. It takes a lot of courage and sacrifice and love to have kids and
do it right. You have all of that. I hesitated, because I wasnt sure what I
was about to say next would go over well, and I really didnt want to get her upset
so early in the morning. Discussing her parents, or lack thereof, was not a subject we
ventured into frequently. At best, she would remain silent. I hoped for silence.
Shes very circumspect and analytical when it comes to her feelings and emotions. She
doesnt trust her initial emotional reaction to most things, even though its
usually the same thing that she ends up deciding shes feeling. Its good and
bad, because Ive seen her try to rationalize and justify things that really are
incapable of rationalizing and justifying. Its as if she says to herself,
Okay, what am I supposed to be feeling? rather than What am I
I learned early on that it takes her some time to process things on an emotional level and
determine what she is really feeling. Wed talk about this again. That much I knew.
It might be later this afternoon or it might be two weeks later. Thats whats
important. That we would eventually talk about it.
I dont know if that makes much sense, but thats how she is. I think that she
does it because of her experiences or lack of them. I was lucky. I had parents who set a
good example. She didnt have that. What I find amazing is her outlook on all that.
Shes angry with her parents, her mother in particular. But shes never used
things that happened to her as an excuse for anything. It just is what it is, as
shes so fond of saying.
Having parents is no guarantee that youre going to be a good parent. You know
that, sweetheart. Youve seen it plenty enough times on the job.
She dropped her eyes down and fiddled with her coffee cup, but didnt let go of my
hand. That was a good sign.
You care about Diego. You love him. You want whats best for him. And I know
youll do everything in your power to make sure that it happens. I reached over
and brushed her hair back. I love you, you know. She looked up and those blue
eyes blinked at me.
I love you, too, Jules. Im, um, being kind of silly about this, huh? She
had the cutest little sheepish look on her face.
Not silly at all, baby.
She cleared her throat a little. Its...I just worry about all this. I want to
do it right.
I know you do. I do, too. Well get it right, okay?
Okay. A shy smile. Thanks.
I would do anything for her, you know. Shes definitely low maintenance. She and I
laugh about it. Shell look at me with that goofy, lop-sided grin. Darling,
just a pat on the head every now and then is all I need. Shes actually very
serious about that. Thats what shed settle for, because thats the only
thing she ever got from anyone.
I wont settle for that, and Im not going to let her settle for that, either.
It would be so easy just to take from her and not give anything back. Shed let me.
Most of the time, it takes very little effort on my part. I just have to listen and be
patient. Damian DAvanti may not have loved many people in her lifetime, but God,
when she does, you get it all. I have to really watch myself to make sure that I
dont forget to give back to her when Im stressed out. I know that I did that
after everything happened with Diego. Im not very proud of myself for doing that.
But I did it. I need to follow my own advice - talk to her and apologize.
Maya just came in. Damians not too far behind, Ill bet. Its a funny
thing about that dog. She loves that dog to death. I bet if I asked her today if she
considered herself to be Mayas parent shed still act offended. But I know
better. Ive even caught her standing in the kitchen next to the counter, the dog
sitting happily on top of it as Damian talked to her. Makes me wonder if the dog would
have understood the apology I thought she was going to get. I just fold my arms and glare
at both of them. Its kind of fun. That I didnt put her up there
protest she does...it reminds me so much of Diego. I miss him. I wonder if it will ever
stop hurting this much. I think Ill go find her and get a hug.
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