Hollis and I picked up Anthony from the airport last night. It was late, around 8, but I decided I wanted Hollis and Anthony to see each other as soon as possible. This last trip has been unavoidably difficult and different in a lot of ways.
First of all, Hollis' language and cognitive development took a big leap forward recently. His words are more sophisticated, as are his thought processes. His deductive reasoning is almost palpable. I have to be 100% on all the time with him and I'm feeling like I just got switched to French II from French I without my knowledge: I'm scrambling to keep up, but feel like I should know what to do. I'm getting there, but I'm more worn out than usual. There's lots more running around and I have to dredge up so many old tricks from when I was a teenage babysitter: games to play, things to do, where to go.
Second, because of everything I just mentioned Hollis now knows his daddy is missing. I was awoken in the dead of night to plaintive, "Daaadaaaa!"s multiple times and in the middle of the day he'd cry for his daddy, tears streaming down his face. Or once, he heard the answering machine's male voice from the other room and his face lit up as he said, "Dada??" I had to tell him, "Sorry, honey, Dada's at work." And every morning the first week when I'd stumble into his room bleary-eyed he'd say excitedly, "Dada!" in expectations of seeing his father laying in bed to meet him. My heart broke a dozen times this business trip.
Add to it that the Indian office had Facebook blocked off and the hotel had shoddy internet and I had very little contact with Anthony the last 10 days. We were able to video chat only once or twice for just a few minutes each time. When Hollis saw Anthony's sweet face for the first time in days on the computer monitor he seemed mad, despite having been asking for daddy earlier that morning. It was as if he were disappointed it was a flat, two-dimensional Daddy and not the real thing. In the end, it was a short chat between father and son.
So, this morning Hollis woke up when my poor, pregnant sister calls at 7:15 (5:15 am her time). She'd been up since 4 am to pee and couldn't go back to sleep. Like I said, poor, pregnant sister! Anthony goes in to get him and as I'm laying flat on my back, groggy as all hell due to a shitty ass night of sleep, I can see Hollis practically glowing with glee that he's with his daddy. GLOWING. He climbed all over Anthony's luggage, up on the couch, onto Daddy's back, zerberted him anywhere exposed skin is, even lifted up shirts to reach skin if he had to. This baby boy is over the moon with love. Over. the. moon.
My heart, broken so many times the past week-and-a-half from my little boy's grief is seared back together in a handful of precious moments between father and son; each kiss, each zerbert, each squeal a tiny stitch in my heart.
And when it was time for Anthony to leave for the office again this morning Hollis' sweet little face crumpled into a wet mess of tears and sobs of "Bahbah, Dada!" and his little fist would open and close in a wave. My eyes filled up with tears at his heartbreak. Anthony kept on packing up his things, unaware that I was on the verge of tears, too. I didn't want Hollis to see, either, lest he cry harder.
"Bahbah, Dada!" Hollis continues to cry.
I go down on my knees to hug him, then I scoop him up to stand and Anthony gives us both a hug, Hollis between us. And that hug was like a salve. Suddenly Hollis stops crying and says clear as a bell, "Bahbah, Dada!" and holds his hand out in a wave again. No more tears, just a happy send off.
That's what Anthony saw as he pulled away today. Me holding Hollis and Hollis shouting, "Bahbah, Dada!" and a stiff-armed little fist opening and closing to bid his father a fond farewell.
"Bahbah, Dada!" indeed.