My Dad Leaves Us A Maybe Baby Room

July 2, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

Photo Credit:
masterfile.com
"The largest of blessings are those that are small."
My dad moved back to his home country in Cambodia just a week ago. He had told me of how he has lived in the U.S. since he was a young boy because - like my mom and her family from Laos - they were brought to America from refugee camps.

My dad is now fifty-two-years-old.

When I had heard the news of his sudden departure, my heart was crushed and didn't know exactly why. He has mentioned many times that he would go back to live with his wife (my stepmother) and three young children.

He was always proud to show my sister and I the house he had built and his farmland that he calls his "garden."

Every year, he would take a month or two of vacation time to be with his family and celebrate Lao-Thai-Cambodian new years in April. He would always say that it wasn't enough time, he wanted stay longer. He would tell my sister and I to get our passports and visit there, maybe even stay for a month and learn how to speak Khmer and teach children how to speak English.

Over those years, I knew to expect his return home, but didn't think it would be until another five to ten years later. 

He would say, "Maybe ten years I go back." 

Then he would say, "When I go home, you have to take care of yourself."

A part of me had felt that he was threatening to abandon me, another part to prepare for life without him, as if he was dying.

When he left, I wasn't prepared. But then, we all thought, it was time.

It was time that he had lived his life free from being homesick and it was time that my sister and I to fully grow up and take care of ourselves.

Dropping him off at SFO went by quickly and felt as if we were saying goodbye just to see him at home a month later. It hadn't really hit me that he was leaving for good, that this was not another vacation that he had just returned from, a couple months ago.

The second day after he left, I don't know why I felt as if I was grieving another loss. I felt as though I had lost another person I loved. Another "Elijah" in my life was leaving me.

My dad had left once before when I was really young (he wasn't to blame) and his departure felt like that very same day when I was four-years-old, crying after him - except the little crying girl was hiding her pain.

I had mixed feelings of mourning that very same father-daughter loss when I was young and a loss of the rest of my future, like the future I had lost after losing Elijah. 

Never would I experience life with Elijah, and now, my dad from now on. It would now be "hi's and bye's" on the phone or video chats, not that it was any different than before. Growing up without him had caused this awkward distance between us that I could never quite close. (Read more about it on: The Grandfather I Wished He Had.)

That second day after he left I had realize that if we had another baby, we wouldn't be able to announce it to him the same way we did when we were pregnant with Elijah. I could remember how he had looked closely at Elijah's 8-week scan and said that it was so small...

When we were pregnant with Elijah, I had imagined him carrying his first grandchild. I had wondered how it would be like to tell Elijah that my dad was grandpa. Not that all of this matters now, since Elijah had died before I ever had the chance.

Yet, I had hoped that I could do this with a second, if God was willing.  

My dad had not only left my sister and I, but also a two-bedroom place he had rented. One room was my sister's and the other was mine. He didn't like sleeping in a bedroom because he had felt that it was claustrophobic, so his bed was the couch and was perfectly fine with that. I didn't stay in my room as much, since I live with my husband in his parent's home.

Although, my dad wasn't the only one who was planning on leaving. 

My sister is transitioning on moving out, which soon leaves the place open for new tenants. If the landlord, our income, and God was willing (if everything had aligned), my husband and I would be moving in.

For awhile, I wanted to transform my bedroom into a meditation room; a place where I could getaway. I wanted to make it a sacred space to relax and grieve, especially on my worst days.

With hope and excitement, I told my husband, "If we get to move in, I could really turn my room into a meditation room! Or, it could be a game room!" 

He said, "No. Baby room."

I softened a little.

"Oh, you think so?"

"Yeah."

I had lost hope the past month, especially on Elijah's birthday. It's building up again, but I really just want to refuse playing the game of hope and despair. I have had enough of being drunk on hope. Hope that things will change, hope to end the suffering, hope that a negative pregnancy test will turn up positive, hope that I could carry to term, birth a child, and take it home forever and live happily ever after.

That was my dream and it had ended so many times, so much so, that I no longer wanted to believe in it as much as I had before.

When my husband had said those words, I got quiet and starting thinking about how it would look and be like to have a baby room. Living at his parent's home had no room - both in the house and our  minds - to think about an actual space just for a baby.

I started thinking about color schemes, what kind of rugs would match, a dresser, wall decor, a rocking chair, and most of all, the crib. I finally had room to get that wooden, white crib I have always wanted for a baby.

But then, I remembered that we still had a new and unused pack-n-play crib that we had gotten for Elijah, months prior to his twenty-week scan. It is still in its new box, taped up, hidden in the back of our closet - waiting for a baby to sleep in it. (Read more about it on: The Crib In The Closet.)

I don't know if we would ever get one of those cribs that transforms as a child grows; the one that has three or four different kinds of settings that converts into a child's size bed. Those things are definitely designed for long-term use and we would definitely need to get the most out of everything we had. If we did, then the pack-n-play would either be in our bedroom or in the living room.

I don't think I could ever come to terms with selling or giving away the crib...

But anyway, all of these ideas about the baby room are just ideas. It makes me sad, but hopeful, a tiny bit excited, and very much depressed. It's just an idea, floating around above our heads, perhaps waiting to drown in my tears like all of the other ideas I had for Elijah and our life as a family.

If we do happen to rent the place, the "baby room" idea will only be slightly more than just an idea. It will become a hope, a desire, a dream. Because the baby room will only ever happen if God was willing to bless us with a baby to take home.

*Update 7/3/18: Unfortunately, we are NOT moving in.

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