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The Day The World Stopped Turning

The day started off completely ordinary,
with no hint of the extraordinary event that would indelibly mark
my child’s memories, scar her psyche, for the rest of her
life. Here on out, my daughter’s life will be split –
the Pre and Post-Apocalypse clearly delineated in her mind.

But back to the ordinary start: a morning
spent cheerfully eating her yogurt and granola, playing carefree
with her dollies as Mommy got the stroller ready for the park.
Sure, Cora needed a little snack right before we departed, which
made things a bit hectic and rushed, but otherwise, a perfect,
sunny summer day, with nothing but fun on the agenda.

We’ve got a bit of a routine going on, not just on a daily
basis but a weekly one as well. Twice a week we pick up fresh
produce at the greenmarket, once a week to the drugstore for
supplies, and so on. This particular day was Library Day –
Mommy’s favorite. The library opens a bit earlier on this day
of the week, so we’ve got a regular weekly stop for Mommy to
stock up on her nursing reading. Since the library’s right
across the street from the park, Maddie barely tolerates the
library, much as she loves looking at the books. All she can think
of is the park just beyond those walls.

But still, we were in a fine mood as we pushed ourselves into that
air-conditioned comfort of the library. And then, the fateful words
were spoken, the words that guaranteed life would never be the

“Silky, please.”

We absolutely never leave home without Silky. It’s
Maddie’s one constant, the one thing we never take away as
punishment or use to bend her to our will. Silky is the closest she
gets to God – always there, always comforting.

Except for now.

I swear, it was like life was moving in slow motion. As the word
“Silky” came out of her mouth my heart stopped,
realizing that in the rush and confusion of leaving, I’d left
Silky behind. And now it was up to me to utter for the first time
the words, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, Silky isn’t

Maddie didn’t quite understand what that meant; those words
had never been strung together before. As the meaning sunk in, her
eyes widened in disbelief. Her chin crumpled. “I want
Silky,” she whispered, hoping I’d laugh and say,
“April Fools!” “Oh, kiddo, Mommy forgot it at
home,” I repeated.

“Silky, please,” she whimpered, thinking I was simply
trying to teach her a lesson in manners and if she found the magic
word Silky would appear.

“I told you, baby, Mommy left it at home. You didn’t do
anything bad, Mommy just forgot it.” The tears began falling,
the sobs got louder. “Mommy go home and get it fast-fast,

Needless to say, we left the library empty-handed and very quickly.
As we crossed the street to the park, I explained that we could go
home for Silky but if we did, we wouldn’t have time to return
to the park. It was an either-or proposition.

By this time Maddie was sobbing uncontrollably, wailing in a
heartbreaking tone, “Silky, Mama! I want Silky,
please!” Parking our stroller, I got her out and cuddled her
on the ground, her thin little body shaking, as I explained her
choices again. She kept looking to me to fix this egregious wrong,
or at least to explain what she did that was making me withhold her
comfort blanket from her.

And I couldn’t make it better.

After ten solid minutes of crying, with Maddie unable to get back
in the stroller and unable to pull herself together to play, she
finally calmed down enough to notice where we were and elected to
drown her sorrows in the rainbow sprinkler. As she walked off to
play, she looked ever-so-slightly more world weary, a slight loss
of innocence weighing about her shoulders.

What had I done???? I’d taken my daughter’s one source
of unconditional comfort and ripped it out from underneath her.
I’d forced her to question her very core of her world, to
realize that nothing could be taken for granted. And she still
didn’t entirely understand what had happened, why Silky
wasn’t there, and why Mommy couldn’t fix it fast-fast.

By the time we left the park, of course, Maddie was over the whole
thing. Arriving home and spying Silky on the table, she grabbed it
faster than a society matron at a Gucci 75% off sale, snuggled it,
and brought it to me. “Look, mommy!” she said
reassuringly, “Silky’s here!” Madeleine had
obviously forgiven me.

It would be a lot longer before I’d forgive myself.


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