Friday, June 8, 2012
"Beatrice, get on the escalator with me!"
Bea froze. The stroller and my bag clicked atop the downward moving metal steps.
"Bea, come with Daddy!"
Bea backed up one step. The Mama and Bryce were already at the bottom. The stroller and my bag pulled me onward onto the steps.
"Beatrice, come on!"
She didn't move. The distance between us grew and Bea's distressed face crushed my heart.
"Mama, she didn't come with me!" I called down. But the Mama didn't hear me, to focused on chasing Bryce.
For a few seconds I froze, watching Bea pull away from me atop the escalator. For a few seconds I just didn't know what to do, even with the nagging feeling in the base of my brain telling me to leave the stuff and scramble up the stairs for her. For a few seconds I felt helpless, a rookie father leaving his daughter behind, unable to move.
A few seconds can feel like forever when you're frozen to moving stairs, but then an older man took Bea's hand and guided her down the escalator.
"Thank you, sir!"
Now, I know what you're thinking -- you're thinking that if we were in a much larger airport someone could've easily swept her away. Even the Mama told me I should've just dumped the stuff and ran up.
Which was where I would've gotten to in two seconds more...but still. Sadly I'm slow that way sometimes.
The sick feeling dug a huge cold and vile pit in my belly when we were all sitting down at the gate waiting to board the plane. What was I thinking? And was I thinking? Why didn't I bolt immediately up to save her?
"God, I feel horrible."
"Honey, she's fine," the Mama said. "Next time just run up and get her."
The pit grew colder and more vile and then it was time to board the plane. At the same time another Pacific storm pounded the area with rain and hail. We went down another escalator -- without incident this time -- and proceeded to the tarmac. I threw the stroller on the checked bag cart.
"Beatrice, let's get on the plane," I said.
But again, she didn't want to go. The Mama had Bryce in her arms.
"Can you carry her?" The Mama asked.
"Damn right I can. C'mon, Sweetie."
I picked her up in one arm and my bag with the other hand and we ran through the rain, up the stairs and onto the plane. Bea held on tight, her head buried in my neck.
"I love you, Bea," I said, kissing her head. We sat in the plane and I seat-belted Bea in. Bryce squealed unhappily and squirmed on the Mama's lap.
And then I smiled, because for a few seconds I had dropped my bags and bounded up the escalator to grab my daughter. For a few seconds I hadn't froze to watch her drift slowly away from me. For a few seconds the sick feeling fell away, the pit filled in, and I found a little redemption.
For a few seconds I thought, That'll never happen again.