Little Katie sat in the lobby of County General Hospital. She twirled the frayed hair of her rag-doll between her fingers. The smell of bleach and poo made her eyes sting but she would not cry. Daddy said big girls don’t cry. He said Katie was a big girl now and Daddy is never wrong.
She tried to ignore hushed voices down the hall by scuffing her shiny buckle shoes on the dingy floor. She doesn’t have to hear them to know what is what. The doctor has blood all over his clothes. The officer might be crying. He was nice to Katie when he pulled her out of the car. He tried to give her candy but Daddy said Katie should never take candy from strangers. He is a stranger and Daddy is never wrong.
Katie could also see the funny lights dancing down the halls. Katie couldn’t count high enough to count all the lights. And she heard them singing. It was the song Daddy sang every night after Momma went. He said she use to sing it to Katie. Daddy told Katie that Momma had gone home because she was weary.
The song made Katie think of warm blankets on a cold day or chocolate ice cream in the hot summer. It smelled like cotton candy and apple pie. Then, there was the face that always filled her mind halfway through. A face like Daddy’s but better. The face loved Katie and she liked to look at it. She knew if she was ever afraid all she had to do was close her eyes, hum the song and he was there. And if she listened really, really hard, Katie could hear him singing too.
Katie was afraid now. She set her doll down beside her, closed her eyes and hummed with the lights. Everything around her began to sway. Her feet no longer scuffed the dirty floor and the hushed voices faded to silence. The sounds were replaced by trickling water and a single voice singing.
He was singing.
Katie opened her eyes and she was no longer in the stinky hospital. She was in a meadow. And there before her was the face of her song. The face that made her think of all the most wonderful things. He stopped singing and smiled at Katie.
“Hi,” Katie said.
“Hi!” He smiled bigger and motioned for Katie to come closer.
“I know you,” Katie said as she moved a step closer.
“I know you too, Katie.” He placed his hands in his lap and waited.
Katie looked around. Butterflies swam through rainbows and fish flew through waterfalls. Katie had only ever dreamed of such a silly place. She took another step forward.
“Daddy said I’m not allowed to talk to strangers.”
The smile slipped from his face. “I’m sorry I had to take him, Katie. I can’t tell you why but it was important. And I thought we already said we knew each other?”
Katie bit her lip and laced her hands behind her back. She thought about it. Really, she had known this man as far back as she could remember. She thought it might be okay with Daddy if she talked with the man now that she was all alone.
“Oh Katie, you are never alone. I promise you. And I never break my promises.”
“Pinky promise?” Katie took the last steps to the tree stump the man was sitting on and held out her tiny finger.
“Pinky promise,” he said as he held out his.
Their fingers intertwined and they shook. Katie gasped when she looked at his hand.
“Did that hurt?” Katie ran her finger over the scar on the back of the man’s hand.
“As bad as my heart does now?” Katie asked as she looked up with doughy eyes.
Katie continued to rub her finger over the bubbled thin skin. “Did you cry?”
“Daddy says big girls don’t cry and Daddy is always right.”
“Yes but Daddy forgot the last part of that.” The man placed his other hand over Katie’s, showing another scar there as well.
“Wh…what is the last part?” Katie’s lip trembled.
“Big girls don’t unless they have someone to catch all their tears.”
“Well, that’s silly,” Katie said.
“It is but it is true. Just try and I will show you that I can catch all your tears. I promise.”
Katie thought about it. He did say he never breaks his promises. And he did pinky promise. “How?”
“How do you cry? I will show you how to hurt then heal.” He looked deep into Katie’s eyes.
In that instant Katie could see a beautiful woman laughing. She knew it was her Momma. Her throat felt very thick. Then a picture of her doggie, Jack that was hit by a truck last year. Her stomach rolled. Last, her Daddy swinging her around until she was dizzy. He giggled and so did Katie.
A salty sea shed from Katie’s eyes. She couldn’t hold it back any longer. Her head dropped and her tiny shoulders heaved. Warm blanket arms wrapped around her and he began to rock and sing. Katie cried until she had no ocean left to pour forth.
She hiccuped and went to wipe her eyes. They were dry. She looked at him and he smiled. In his hand were a lot of diamonds in two bottles.
“What are those?”
“They are your tears, sweet one. I told you I would catch them all.” He put the bottles in his pockets. Then, he softly swiped the stray hair from Katie’s brow.
“I have nowhere to go. Can I stay with you?” Katie asked.
“How about I stay with you instead?”
He placed his hand on Katie’s back and rubbed. “In here, my treasure. Forever if you want.”
“Pinky promise?” Katie held up her tiny finger once again.
Katie closed her eyes as something warm shot up her finger and filled her heart. It caused her to take a deep breath like when she went under water to swim. The throbbing ache that had been there since Daddy swerved off the road stopped. It was replaced with the song. Light filtered through her eyes and she could hear hushed voices down the hall once again.
Joshua 1:5 KJV
There shall not any man be able to stand before you all the days of your life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you.
Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll– are they not in your record?
Peace, love and God’s will.