Troubleshooter Copyright 2000 all rights reserved.
Today is day four of the Hayden Invasion. I had to come in here and clear my head
for a little while.
I woke up about five oclock this morning, thinking I had heard a noise.
I had. It was that little shit, Maya, chasing Arabella down the hall. I got up
and threw on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt and ended up taking Maya outside so
she wouldnt wake up everybody up. That dog gets bursts of energy at the
strangest times. Of course, she was probably sleeping peacefully at the foot of
the bed until Arabella jumped up and whacked the holy hell out of her. Arabella
can be a real bitch.
After I tired Maya out, I ended up making some coffee and sitting outside, just
listening to the night noises and waiting for dawn to come. Apparently, Jules
mother does not share Jules penchant for sleeping in, because she appeared
at the patio table with a cup of coffee and settled down in a chair across from
me. I looked hopefully at the back door, but no Jules or Ed appeared. Have I mentioned
that Jules mother scares the hell out of me?
Jules is almost a carbon copy of her mother. Younger, of course. In fact, all
of the Hayden women look alike. It can be intimidating at family get-togethers.
Very intimidating. Ive swapped more than one understanding look with all
the husbands and brothers.
Morning. If anything, I do have manners.
Good morning, Damian. Youre up a little early, arent you?
A little, I acknowledged. Maya was a little rambunctious. Didnt
want her to wake anybody up. Maya lifted her head and yawned sleepily then
laid it back down in my lap and closed her eyes. If I didnt know better,
Id think she was trying to make a liar out of me. The dog. Not Jules
She turned her chair slightly so that she could look out over the backyard. Its
very peaceful out here.
Mmmm, I agreed as I sipped my coffee.
We silently drank our coffee for a little while. I...she makes me nervous. Kind
of like Jules did when we first started going out. Shes arrestingly honest
and straightforward. And shes got that same way about her that Jules has
of getting information out of you. I thought of what Ed had said.... Shell
get it out of you eventually. Make it easy on yourself. Like mother, like
daughter, I suppose. I sighed.
I felt those eyes turn on me. Here it comes, I thought.
Juliana tells me you have to go in tomorrow morning for reevaluation.
Maam...you make me feel old. She snorted a little and took another
sip of coffee. Are you thinking of going back to the job?
Dont know if theyll let me. Its true. I dont
know if they will. Seems the shrink isnt too pleased with what I did.
Give me one of those damn cigarettes.
I looked at her, surprised. Im pretty sure my jaw was hanging open as I
slid the pack and lighter across the table.
Her nose wrinkled a little bit and she almost whispered, Dont tell
Juliana. Shed kill me.
What was it with these Hayden women? Jules is sneaking around wanting to have
sex at the oddest times and her mothers sneaking a smoke. I wont.
Uh huh, she said knowingly. I know Juliana. A little batting
of the eyelashes and youd spill your guts.
I started to protest, but then stopped and laughed. Shes right. Maybe thats
the Hayden womens secret weapon. Marilyn probably started teaching all of
them that when they were still babies. Damn. I never stood a chance. Probably.
Zippo...havent seen one of these in ages, she commented as she
lit her cigarette. I always loved the smell of the lighter fluid.
She closed the top of the lighter with a click and set it back on the table. So,
if theyll take you back, will you go?
Do I want to go back? I thought about it and realized that I hadnt really
thought that much about going back to the job. I mean, I have, but I havent.
I definitely hadnt made any decisions. I...I dont know.
I heard the crackle of the tobacco and paper as she took a drag on her cigarette.
Youll know when youre ready to know.
What the hell was that supposed to mean? I imagine so.
How does my daughter feel about it?
Uh oh, I thought. My daughter. Somehow, I always get the feeling that when
she uses that term, my answer had better be the right answer. This was no exception.
I had no clue what the right answer was. I wondered if she yelled when she got
angry, or if she would want to talk about it. I hoped that she would yell. I like
it so much better when Jules yells. I...I dont know, I mumbled
and returned my gaze to the tree line, waiting for the repercussions. I had the
feeling that it wasnt the right answer.
She didnt yell. Instead, she was silent for awhile as I sat there thinking
about why I didnt know how Jules felt about me going back to work. Why didnt
I know how Jules felt about it? I know how she felt about it before all this happened.
We had talked about it on different occasions. Does she feel any differently now?
Why would her mother ask that? Did Jules say something to her about my job?
Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words.
She finally asked, Hows my daughter doing?
How is her daughter doing? She...has her good days and her bad. She misses
him very much. I...sometimes, I find her...just staring out of the window...or
looking at a picture of him. She hurts.... My voice trailed off.
I scanned the tree line. How am I? I feel like I died, without all the fringe
benefits of death. The one...the only thing that makes me feel alive is when your
daughter touches me...looks at me. Im okay.
Hows your arm? Even her voice...it sounds like Jules.
Which one, I wanted to ask. The left one that had been broken or the right one
where they had put the shunt while I was on dialysis so I wouldnt strain
my good kidney? Rights fine. Left hurts when were gonna have
So whats the forecast?
I had to laugh. Clear, hot, humid...afternoon thunder showers a possibility.
Thats some arm. Julianas lucky to have you
Nah...typical South Louisiana weather.
Shes still lucky to have you.
I felt her eyes on me. I couldnt look at her. Id rather she
Theres a rule. Her voice sounded distant, remote. Parents
are supposed to die before their children. Its something every parent knows.
I...think whoever makes those rules needs to add another one. Every grandparent
is supposed to die before their grandchildren. Her voice broke on the last
I turned my head and looked at her. Tears rolled down her cheeks. I...I had no
idea what to do...what to say. Im...sorry.
Im sorry, too. So very sorry. Her hand brushed at the falling
tears. I dont know how to make this any better for the two of you.
You have to do that....together. My daughter loves you very much. I know.... Please...remember
that you have each other. Dont lose sight of that fact. I dont want
either of you to be hurt any more than you already have been. Her eyes dropped
down to her coffee mug. I need...some more coffee. She stood and went
into the house without another word.
I stared at the door for a long time after she went inside.
Sometimes, I just feel numb. Inside. Outside. Just numb. Its always been
that way. Me, I mean, having these periods of numbness. Even when I was little.
I really dont know how to describe it. I can think about the best things
that happened to me or the worst, and I just dont feel it. Nothing. Like
Im stone. Its...cold. I dont even feel lonely. Just hollow,
Thats how I felt at the end of our conversation. I dont like it any
more. The first time this happened when I was with Jules, I think it scared her.
Scratch that. I know it did. Harry Becnel had filed some papers with the court
asking them to grant Diego asylum. We had been dealing with the Mexican consulate,
and no one was cooperating. If you think its hard trying to adopt in the
U.S., try Mexico. Harry figured it would be easier if the U.S. had, I guess, custody
of him. We had gone to the hearing. As I heard the judge say, Denied,
I could feel the numbness set in.
We went to lunch with Harry after that. Its not that I cant function
when it happens. I can. Very well, actually. Im just not very reactive emotionally.
At least thats what Jules says happens. I think I agree with that. I never
had anybody talk to me about it before. Maybe other people noticed it, but I didnt
and nobody else ever told me they did. He talked about what losing the hearing
meant and how he would appeal, and all that legal crap that he needed to do.
Jules kept looking at me strangely during lunch. I had to go back to work after
lunch. There were people from some of the other task forces in town and we were
When I got home that night, Jules was upset. I could tell but she still kissed
me hello. At least she did kiss me. She never doesnt do something because
shes angry or upset with me. Its...shes consistent like that.
That means a lot to me. Consistency is very important. I never had a lot of that
in my life. Its Jules way of letting me know that even if shes
upset or angry, that she still loves me.
I figured that she was upset about the hearing, so, needless to say, I was a little
surprised when she asked me what was wrong.
Nothing, I responded.
She looked at me for a long time. I...Youre.... She started
and stopped and stared some more. It was uncomfortable and I started fidgeting.
Are you upset about what happened today?
I knew I was supposed to be, but I couldnt feel it. Um, yeah.
She looked at me expectantly. Apparently, there was more that I should have said,
but I didnt know what it was. Are you? Its all I could
Well, of course, I am, Damian. I feel incredibly frustrated and angry about
this. I dont understand why the judge would deny Diego asylum. Hes
just a little boy and he shouldnt be put through any more hell.
Why are you apologizing? You didnt do anything.
I...dont know. I.... I really had no earthly idea why I was
apologizing. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time.
Jules moved closer to me and rubbed my arm. Do you want to talk about it?
Whatevers bothering you. Damian, youre acting... I dont
know. She put her arms around me and hugged me. Its gonna be
okay, honey. Well win the appeal, and if not, we can request a re-hearing.
Harry said we have a good chance at that. Please...dont give up hope on
Her last words...hope. I didnt feel any. I didnt feel any thing. I
Please...tell me whats bothering you. She drew back and looked
up into my eyes. One of her hands caressed my cheek. There were tears in her eyes.
I had to say something. She was getting really upset. I dont feel.
Those green eyes.... With one look, she can do so much to me...take me higher
than Ive ever been before or devastate me. Her voice was so soft, so gentle.
Dont feel what? I suppose she assumed that I hadnt finished
my sentence. But I had.
Anything. Her eyes searched my face. I could see her trying to understand.
I...since I was little...I just go numb sometimes. I shrugged my shoulders
lightly. How could I explain it to her when I didnt understand it myself?
I still dont really understand what happens, but I know what to do about
I dont understand, Damian.
I...I.... I searched for words. No angry, no happy, no sad...nothing.
I couldnt stand to look in her eyes anymore, so I looked away.
Kind of empty?
I nodded. Thats the word I was looking for, I thought. Empty.
I felt a gentle pressure against my jaw. It was her hand, urging me to look at
her. I did. Her head tilted up and she stood on her tiptoes and started to kiss
me. It was a gentle, loving kiss. The kind that makes your soul sigh.
Did you feel that?
Not so empty anymore? she asked, a little unsure.
I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close, my lips brushing the top of
her head. Yeah, baby, not so empty anymore. And I wasnt.
It took a long time for me to realize that I didnt have to feel that way.
Not as long as I had Jules. So thats what I did after her mother went inside.
I went to find Jules.
Gotta go now. Jules just came to get me. Day four of the Hayden Invasion continues.
Were launching an assault on New Orleans proper. I have a feeling Im
going to be a pack mule today. Jules and her mother have already been talking
about which antique shops were going to visit on Magazine Street.
Today has been a whirlwind. We got back just a little while ago. We went into
New Orleans for the day, and, as it turned out, for part of the night. Shopping
can be incredibly tiring. Im pretty certain that we didnt miss many
stores. It was a great day, though, and I really enjoyed it. It felt really good
to enjoy it.
Damians already gone to bed. Shes tired from doing her beast of burden
duties today. She is really very indulgent. I have to laugh. Ill show her
something and ask, Honey, do you think this would look good in the living
room next to the fireplace?
Shell laugh in return. If you think so, baby, go ahead and get it.
Not exactly a response to my question, but its about as good as I usually
get. She says that she has no taste. She even jokes that she needs...oh, what
are they called... those kids clothes that had the animals sewn into the
labels so you were assured of a match? Grrranimals. Thats it. Adult Grrranimals.
But its not that. She does have an excellent eye for things. She just doesnt
care about material things. They mean nothing to her. Our walls could be bare
and she wouldnt care. Shed care if it meant something to me, but not
because it meant anything to her.
The first time I went into her apartment it seemed so Spartan, at least to me.
It wasnt cold or anything like that, it was just, well, so Damian. It was
neat, ordered, practical. Everything was tasteful, but it was definitely not overdone.
There werent a lot of knickknacks on the bookshelves or things on the walls.
Not that Im a knickknack person. But I do have things, mementos I suppose
you could call them, from the places Ive visited. Some Ive bought.
A painting. A piece of sculpture. Earrings. Others Ive just picked up. A
rock. A piece of wood. A book of matches. Things that call to mind people Ive
met or places Ive visited.
I think the thing that struck me the most was that there were no pictures of people
anywhere, save one next to her bed of an older woman whose smile extended from
ear to ear. I could tell that the picture was old. The woman was standing in a
kitchen and there were very large pots on the stove behind her. Upon closer inspection,
I realized that the stove the pots rested on was like the kind youd find
in a restaurant.
We had made love and were lying in the bed, relaxing. Her head was resting on
my stomach and I was idly running one hand through her hair. I asked her about
the picture. Whos that?
The cook from St. Vincents.
That seemed like such a sterile explanation to me. Damian had obviously had the
picture for a long time. And this picture was the only one in her apartment. No
pictures of family or friends. Then I remembered that she didnt have a family
to have pictures of. I wondered if this woman, the cook, was like Damians
family. Whoever she was, she was obviously an important part of Damians
life, or at least had been.
Whats her name?
Thats a beautiful name.
I felt her head nod in agreement.
Sometimes, when I talk to Damian, I feel like a dentist taking a stroll through
the countryside in Afghanistan. Getting information is like pulling teeth and
one wrong step and theres an explosion. Sometimes, with her, its an
implosion. I know thats a mixed metaphor, but its very accurate.
Ive learned to not worry about it. I ask the questions I need to ask and
deal with what happens. Ive realized that the anger she displays sometimes
is not directed at me. Its from keeping everything inside and not knowing
how to let it out. I cant tell you that it doesnt hurt, because it
does. I want her to feel like she can tell me anything and that it will be okay,
because thats the way I feel. I think that she finally does feel like that,
but its taken a long time. And old habits are very hard to break. I still
pull teeth sometimes.
She seems very nice. I know you really cant tell from a picture
if someones nice, but if that smile was any indication, she was a wonderful
person. Was she...important to you? I waited so long for an answer
that I didnt think I was going to get one.
Thats who taught me Spanish.
Ah, I thought, not exactly an answer, but Damian must have spent a lot of time
with her to learn Spanish. Do you still see her?
She moved away. Her voice was so cold that my skin chilled where her
breath moved across it.
I wanted to cry. My love, my mind whispered to hers, someone you loved left you
again. I didnt pursue it any further that day. Instead, I moved down and
Damian worried me a little bit this morning. She woke me up before the sun even
came up and laid her head on my belly and curled up into a fetal position. She
generally doesnt do that, so that concerned me. Whats wrong,
She lifted her head slightly and looked up at me. I saw that look in her eye.
It made my stomach turn. I hadnt seen that look in so long. I dont
even know if I can describe it. When she looks like that, she says she feels numb...has
Im not sure what she means by that. I dont think Ive ever been
numb. At least not without some outside event triggering it. There have been a
few occasions in my career where Ive been scared out of my mind and didnt
think about the fear, or anything else for that matter, except what I needed to
do to get out of harms way. I imagine that I operated more as an automaton,
just reacting to the situation. But the feelings returned full force as soon as
the danger was over, bringing with them the weak knees and roiling stomach.
I think that its a coping mechanism for her when she needs some relief from
the pain. She buries those feelings so deep and puts her mind on auto-pilot. Actually,
come to think of it, Im surprised this hasnt happened before with
everything thats happened. I did the only thing Ive ever known to
do for her. I kiss her and hold her. It seems to work. Words have no effect.
Ive done some research on orphans. When we started the adoption process
with Diego, I had gone to the library to do some research. One of the librarians,
Kasinda, who as I found out later knew Damian from her frequent trips there, pointed
out an article to me. We were talking about the origin of her name. I had met
a woman named Kasinda in South Africa and I told her that I thought it was a beautiful
name. One thing led to another and we started talking about adoption and orphans.
I cant recall the name of the article, although Im sure its
still packed away in the files somewhere. The author, a child psychologist, brought
up some very interesting points. He cited a medical study that had been conducted
on children who had been orphaned. Ill spare you the technical details and
get to the point. It seemed that the orphans production of a certain chemical
during the fight or flight response was significantly less than the amount produced
by children that had been raised by their biological parents. They were less reactive
to stressors and werent as easily frightened, surprised, scared, etc.
It struck me because it fit so perfectly with Damians behavior and I wondered
about the validity of the study. I had always assumed that she was just very good
at hiding things. I still think she is very good at hiding things to some extent,
but I definitely think that being an orphan has had an impact. I did some further
research that day, and went home to present my findings to Damian. It was clear
to me that we were going to have to make some decisions.
We.... Im not really sure in this whole thing where it changed from a Damian
adopting Diego thing to a Damian and Jules adopting Diego thing.
I dont recall ever sitting down and talking about it and having us make
a conscious decision. It seemed to have happened so naturally.
I came home with the articles. I was still living by myself at the time. We never
did officially move in together until we bought the house, but Damian was there
as much as she could be with the odd hours that she worked. I sat down and curled
up in my reading chair and started reading all the articles. There were seven
total at the time.
Neither of us are stupid or innocent. Weve both experienced a lot and seen
a lot of things. But I felt totally clueless about what we were getting into by
the time she got there. Dont get me wrong. It wasnt in a bad way that
I was thinking about the adoption. I wanted to make sure that we did things right.
That Diego had every opportunity to be loved and to grow. I wanted to make sure
that we provided a good home for him.
Ive found that love alone, sometimes, isnt enough to insure success,
and from what I had been reading, Diego would be facing some adjustment problems,
not only from the language barrier, but from his past. I think I knew that in
the back of my mind, but it was colored by my delusion that love would conquer
all. Maybe it does, but you can lend it a helping hand. And this was way too important
not to find and use all the helping hands we could get.
I showed her that article and the others that I had found. We had a long discussion
into the night about what would be best for Diego. We had already gotten a tutor
for him very early on. He was so behind, education wise, only able to read a little
bit of written Spanish. My angel. He was so bright. Maybe part of that is a mothers
pride speaking, but putting that aside, he was a bright little boy.
One of the things that I think we did right with Diego was that Damian and I both
were very committed to putting him first. We didnt do it perfectly, but
the commitment was there nonetheless. Its hard to balance life sometimes.
You make a decision at the time that seems like a right one and find out later
that you chose wrong. You learn from your mistakes and go on.
The end result of our discussion that night was that we would bring Diego to a
child psychologist. That first visit we brought Diego... How we got through that,
Ill never know. Damian and I met with him prior to bringing Diego in. I
had lots of questions. Damian wanted to size him up. To the mans credit,
he survived meeting Damian and her interrogation. Hes okay,
she grudgingly admitted after it was over. I had to smile. My angel is so protective.
Damian has an inherent distrust of people. Its not a paranoia. She doesnt
think everyone has ulterior motives or anything like that. She doesnt just
automatically trust someone. I think thats a good thing, actually. I tend
to be a bit too trusting.
The first time we brought Diego to see Scott...that was his name, Scott Harrelson...we
were seated in the waiting room. Well, I was seated and Damian was stalking around
the tiny waiting room. If I heard How long has it been? once, I heard
it a thousand times that hour. She finally sat in the chair next to me when I
told her she was acting like a child on a long trip. I had heard enough of that
in my lifetime from my sisters and brothers when I was little...the proverbial
When are we going to get there? and you hadnt even pulled out
of the driveway yet.
Diego came out of Scotts office with a big smile on his face. Damian was
exhausted from the stalking back and forth. I wondered if we were going to go
through this every time. Diego loved Scott. He got to play with toys during his
visits. We did family visits as well. Damian liked playing with the toys as well.
I was amazed at the things she told Scott when she was preoccupied with the toys.
It was almost off-handed. Like she wasnt really thinking about it.
Shes going to the department psychiatrist tomorrow. I wonder if he has toys.
I suspect that would be the only way hell get anything out of her. I knew
the appointment was coming up. I should have talked to her about it before. With
mom and dad here, we havent had much alone time. She doesnt have to
go until ten. I think Ill set the alarm and wake us up early so well
hopefully have some alone time. I need to get to sleep. Good night.
Fucking assholes! God damn mother fucking assholes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sanctimonious pieces of crap. Thats what they are.
Not one shrink, but two! I could not believe it when I walked into that fucking
office. I expected to see Limp Dick, but he had another person with him. A woman.
Anne Kastl. Whoever the hell she is.
Limp Dick tells me, We thought it would be best to bring in someone else.
Who the fuck is we? I sat down. Why?
Damian. He got that look on his face.
I hate how fucking patronizing they are. I wanted to slap that look off of his
face. You know the one. It says I know whats best so shut up and do
as youre told. And saying my name. Its one of those tricks they
use to make you seem important to them...to personalize the relationship. Hes
got another thought coming if he thinks using my names gonna endear him
to me in some way. Asshole.
I thought that it would be better if we could get someone elses perspective
on this matter.
I nodded my head.
Dr. Kastl and I have discussed your case. He motioned to the woman
sitting across from him like I had forgotten who she was. I may be a homicidal
maniac, but I can still remember peoples names. I had to sit on the couch.
I hate that couch. Why do shrinks have couches anyway? It seems that youre
uncomfortable speaking with me about what happened. Were not making as much
progress as I had hoped.
Uncomfortable? Really? How perceptive. How about I hate your guts? And we
arent making progress because there is no we. The only we
Ive ever been a part of is Jules and Diego. And part of my we
is gone. Fuck you and your we, Limp Dick. Ive made a lot
of progress. Its true. I dont feel like killing myself every
Why dont you share that progress with us?
How about I dont and we can pretend I did? Then I can get the hell out of
here. I promised Jules I would try to talk to him. Fucking promises. What
would you like to know? I tried to say it nicely.
Dr. Kastl decided it was time to add her two cents. Why dont you tell
us how youre feeling right now?
Like I want to go back to work. Im ready to get on with my life.
Are you? Kastl asked.
I wanted to scream. What had I just said? Yes. I do.
It pretty much went like that the rest of the two hours. It was pure, absolute
torture. I dont understand how they can expect me to talk about this with
them when I can hardly talk about it with Jules.
At the end, they wouldnt give me an answer to the one question I wanted
an answer to. Can I go back to work?
Well write up our report and forward our recommendation to your commanding
I dont know why Im so pissed off about this. I guess its because
I want someone whos experienced what I have to be the one thats judging
me and not some spineless, wimpy-assed shrink sitting in a nice comfortable office.
Has anyone ever kidnapped his little boy? Who is he to tell me what I should feel
or think or how much progress I should be making?
He says that my reactions were extreme for the situation. Ive got news for
him. He hasnt seen an extreme reaction from me. I want him to tell me what
his choice would have been. They shouldnt have taken my boy. They got what
they deserved. Id do it again in a heartbeat. I want him to tell me what
he would have done with an inconsolable wife who only wanted her boy back.
Vicentes shoot was justified, in Limp Dicks eyes. I was defending
myself. Defending my fellow officers from a maniac with a gun threatening their
lives. Good job, Lieutenant DAvanti. Heres your medal and your psych
clearance. Back to work now. Does he think that made it any easier for me to live
with the fact that I had killed someone?
But this. This is somehow different to him. I went after them. No medal. No psych
clearance. No good job. Thats the only thing I agree with him on.
I dont even know why it matters to me. I said I wanted to go back. But I
dont know. They all think Im a homicidal maniac anyway. They thought
that long before this happened. I dont disagree totally. I am homicidal,
if that means youve killed someone and are apt to kill again. Threaten my
life or the life of someone I love and I will kill to protect. Its the maniac
part that I have trouble with. Maniac implies that there was no reason or logic
to what I did and there was. Why cant he understand that? All I wanted was
our boy back.
I think I should have sent toys to Dr. Richards office. I must admit, though,
that she doesnt seem to be as angry as the last time she went to see him.
I dont know if its because my parents are here, or because it went
better than the last time. I hope its because it went better than last time.
We havent had time to talk about what happened at her reevaluation. My parents
and I were just finishing up lunch when she got back. She had that full body mask
on, and every answer was fine or okay or the usual.
I used to accept those answers, but I dont like them anymore. She grabbed
a quick bite to eat, and then excused herself and wrote a little. Now shes
outside with dad and Maya, doing God knows what somewhere in the woods. Moms
taking a swim and I decided I needed to write a little bit.
Ive been enjoying mom and dad visiting, but..... Theres always a but,
isnt there? It was really great for the first few days, but I miss the alone
time with Damian. Like today, when she came home. I wanted to talk to her about
it, but I know she wouldnt have said much in front of my parents.
Sometimes, all I want to do is isolate. Its...I think that if we stay in
our own little part of the world, and not bother anybody, then nothing else bad
will happen. I realize thats totally unrealistic, and I know that isnt
good for me or for her.
I get angry with myself for thinking that. I wasnt ever like that before
everything happened. Life was...balanced, and now the scales have been thrown
horribly out of alignment. I wonder sometimes what it will take to get it back
in balance or even if it can ever be balanced again. I know that it cant
ever go back to being like it was as much as I want that.
I know that this has changed me...how I think...whats truly important...irrevocably.
I know its changed her. I dont think that the changes are necessarily
bad for either of us. Thats the thing about life. Most everything in it
is a double-edged sword. Life cuts both ways. To me its about choices. I
can either let this have a negative impact on me, or turn it into a positive thing.
Making lemonade when life hands you lemons.
I just reread that paragraph. Positive.... Its still so hard for me to see
anything positive about this. I know its there. Experience has taught me
that. I find it so hard to believe, though.
Im a lot more serious than I used to be. Thats not to say I was a
flighty, dumb blonde before. Everything means so much more now. I wish I hadnt
had to learn that lesson this way. I wish I had known it before. I dont
know if I would have done much differently, but I would have paid more attention...not
allowed myself to get caught up in things that are really insignificant. I measure
things now against a standard that I didnt have before. Its as if
my thought process pauses, pulls out the memories of what happened and judges
whats going on against them.
This morning, Damian dressed in uniform for her visit to Dr. Richard. Something
about the way she looked in that uniform always made me hot. The NOPD uniform
is shades of blue. The pants are a deep midnight blue and the shirts a kind
of sky blue. It always did interesting things for her eyes.
I hadnt seen her in uniform since everything happened. She came out of the
bedroom and I felt the little surge of adrenalin shoot straight down between my
legs. Memories flooded my mind. The creak of the leather of her gun belt. How
her leather jacket smelled, its subtle whispers as she moved. Except this time,
it was quickly followed by an icy fear that grabbed my heart. That uniform...what
she was...is...it represents so much more now.
The dangers been personalized. Our lives have been directly impacted by
it. Not that it wasnt before, but in a different way. We were never the
story. But then our world collided with life.
That day I got the phone call from Damian asking me to come home...I knew something
was terribly wrong. As she spoke, I could see in my minds eye that little
muscle in her jaw twitching as she fought for control. Her voice was strained,
She never really calls me Juliana anymore. When shes upset or very serious
is usually when she uses my full name. She wouldnt tell me what was wrong.
Whats the matter? My mind raced as I tried to think of a reason
for the obvious distress in her voice. And then it hit me. I couldnt believe
how calm I sounded. Honey, let me speak with Diego.
The silence before she responded seemed like an eternity. Please...please,
Juliana...just come home now.
I knew. I knew then, as surely as I know that the sun rises in the East, that
something had happened to our boy.
I dont remember leaving the office or the drive home. I only remember her
pulling the door open and standing there in her uniform. That was the last time
i saw her in uniform. It could have been like a hundred other days of me coming
home from work....Damian there to greet me, Maya bouncing up and down, Arabella
meowing for food and Diego squirming around Damian to get to me to give me a hug.
But it wasnt. Damian stood just inside the door. Maya sat still next to
Damian. Arabella was perched silently on the kitchen counter.
The little details...the ones that tell the story. They were telling me a story
I didnt want to hear. I got angry.
Where is my boy? I demanded.
I...dont know. Damians voice cracked.
The mind...its a funny thing...a very fragile, funny thing. It could be
my mind, her mind or even your mind. It doesnt matter. It causes us to do
things that we wouldnt normally do under stressful circumstances. It protects
us. I think that sometimes, my subconscious causes me to react in a certain way
that really is best for the situation at the time. When I look back on a situation,
I see a hundred different things I could have done differently...said differently,
but what happened is what needed to happen at the time.
I yelled at her. Where is Diego?
I could see her visibly straighten and gather herself. That full body mask slipped
into place. I felt grateful. Was it selfish of me to feel that? I dont know.
I needed her to be strong, because I felt like I was teetering on the edge of
sanity right then. He wasnt at school when I went to pick him up.
I was still standing in our carport as I started screaming again. Why arent
you looking for him?
I...we...Juliana, please. Come inside, honey. Ill tell you what I
know. Her hand was shaking as she reached out and took my arm and pulled
She sat me down at the kitchen table and explained to me that she had gone to
pick him up from school. He wasnt there. She went inside to look for him,
couldnt find him and fifteen minutes later, the police and FBI were swarming
all over the place. She came home to tell me. Theyll be here soon.
It was as if she was reassuring me. The only thing that would reassure me would
be seeing our boy.
The doorbell rang. I watched her get up to answer the door.
I hope he has his coat with him. Its cold. I dont want him to
be cold. I had no idea what I was saying. I had no idea what we were going
Im worried about Jules. Shes been so quiet. We got in bed last night
and it was like she was just clinging to me. Its not that I have a problem
with that. Its...I can tell somethings wrong. I wrapped my arms around
her and asked her if she wanted to talk. She said no. That is so unlike her.
She didnt sleep well last night. She had nightmares. I can tell when she
has them. She struggles. I dont know what shes struggling against.
She makes little painful noises. Sometimes she cries. She cried last night.
Weve talked about her nightmares. She says that theyre just very hazy
and that shes very frightened in them. She doesnt know what it is
thats frightening her. Just that shes terrified. I wake her up when
she has them and I hold her. It seems to help.
I hate that she has nightmares. She had them before all this happened, but they
were few and far between. Shes seen a lot of things. Maybe more than I have.
Or at least more things in a different context. Jules never did easy stories when
she was freelancing. She always put herself right in the middle of everything.
Shes got a lot of courage.
The moon was really full last night, and bright. I studied her face when she was
sleeping. Shes looking better. For weeks, she had dark circles under eyes.
I traced a few lines at the corners of her eyes. I used to tease her about them.
Wed lay in bed at night and talk. That was our time, after we had put Diego
She says Im stubborn. Ive got news for you. I cant hold a candle
in the stubborn department to Juliana Lee Hayden. She hates wearing her glasses.
Theyre just reading glasses and she looks adorable in them. She writes poetry
sometimes. Shed read me some of it at night. I always had to hand her the
glasses, because shed never put them on. Id reach for them and then
dangle them in front of her. Missing something, grandma?
If looks could kill, I would have died a thousand deaths. But then shed
laugh and thank me. She asked me one night if she thought that we were going to
be grandmothers. That question floored me. I mean, I had never imagined myself
a mother, much less a grandmother. Anythings possible, was my
It certainly seemed so at the time. I had more than I had ever dreamed of. I was
happier than I ever had a right to be. We had a little boy, who would grow up
and become a man. Maybe hed get married, have kids. Yeah, baby, we
just might be grandmothers.
But its not possible now. I dont know whats possible now.
People say that things happen for a reason. When they say it, its always
with that little intonation that it was for the best. I cant think of a
single fucking reason why all this happened. At least not any reason that would
make it for the best. Is it just because they have no idea what to say? Or do
they not want to be honest? I think Id rather them say, Hey, life
sucks sometimes. Bad things happen. Lifes cruel. Live with it, DAvanti.
It just is what it is. No rhyme. No reason.
Life is cruel. If you dont think so, look around you. Theres evidence
of it everywhere. Is the cruelty the price we pay for the joy and happiness? What
kind of god devised that payment plan?
Ive notified families about deaths before. Shown up, ringing their doorbell
in the middle of the night, to tell them. You know how everything was okay
when you went to sleep? Well, guess what? It aint now. Little Johnny decided
that the family sedan could fly and he decided to test that theory as he came
around that curve on I-610 at 110 miles an hour. He found out differently. Hes
not coming home. Ever. Hang onto your memories, because thats all thats
How cruel is that? They know, when they open the door, that its not good
news. Its never good news when a cop shows up at your door at three a.m.
Especially if its a rank. Rank does injury and death notifications. You
can see it in their faces. They hate you. You can see the denial. Youre
wrong. Its not possible. There must be some mistake.
And you stand there and insist that it is no mistake. That youre not wrong.
That it is entirely possible. Because life is cruel and it just is what it is.
One of the cruelest things Ive ever done was to tell Jules that someone
had taken our little boy. I took away her joy and happiness with those words.
I looked at her and watched as my words reached inside her and ripped out her
heart. Tell me that life isnt cruel.
Good afternoon. Its Sunday, thank God. My parents will be gone in the morning.
Its not that it hasnt been great to have them here, because it has.
I love them very much. And I know Damian does, too. Its always very interesting
to watch her relate to them. That whole parental thing...it makes
her really uncomfortable at times. She thought there was this certain mystique
to becoming a parent. Kind of like, once you became a parent, you were raised
to some level of knowledge and wisdom that others were forbidden to have. You
would magically become as close to perfect as you could get...all-knowing, all-seeing...hell,
all-American as far as I could figure. She quickly discovered that there was nothing
mystical about it.
I learned long ago that parents make mistakes. It wasnt exactly a rude awakening
for me, but I remember the first time my mom sat me down and told me that she
was sorry and that she had made a mistake. I dont remember what it was about.
Something inconsequential, Im sure, but I remember being slightly dismayed
at the thought that they made mistakes. I was forced to reconsider my concept
of parent. I think thats a good thing, and something that was
a vital part of my learning about life.
Damian, on the other hand, thought parents were perfect. I can still remember
the conversation we had when she realized she had made a mistake with Diego. We
were sitting at the kitchen table on a Saturday morning drinking coffee. Damian
had been working nights, and had Friday off and was trying to get back in the
swing of being awake during the day. She had come home early Friday morning and
slept for just a little while, then got up and stayed up, exhausted and cranky
for the rest of the day, picked Diego up from school and stumbled back into bed
shortly after I had gotten home. And we had just gotten Maya. We hadnt even
named her yet.
Her eyes narrowed as she stared at me. Jules, are you sure?
Yes, Im sure.
Its not possible, she stated adamantly.
Honey, Im telling you it happened. When I got up this morning, the
damn dog was on the counter, rooting through the box of croissants. I have no
idea how many of them she ate. There were crumbs everywhere.
Its not possible, she stated again, a little less sure of herself
as her eyes glanced over to the counter top.
It is very possible, I assured her. That dog is part monkey.
She looked back at the counter top and then let her eyes survey the room. How
did she get up there?
I shrugged. I have no idea.
Shes too little to have jumped. Christ, she only weighs five pounds.
Shes just a puppy.
The dog in question trotted into the room, her nails clicking on the floor. She
stopped, looked at both of us and then the counter top before looking at us again.
I swear her belly was swollen from those croissants. Then she turned and trotted
We need to get her to the vet. Shes got shots due and I want to have
her nails clipped.
Jules, that dog could not have gotten up on the counter by herself.
I sighed. Sweetheart, Diegos still sleeping, you were sleeping and
I certainly didnt put her up on the counter.
But....it...she.... Her eyes dropped and she stared into her coffee
cup. She finally said, I need to apologize.
I was confused. Very confused. Youre going to apologize to the dog?
Im not sure Im going to make a very good parent.
I mentally reviewed the number of cups of coffee we had already consumed. Only
one so far. We had just started on the second one. Damian usually wakes up bright-eyed
and bushy-tailed, except when she was finishing a stretch of nights. Perhaps she
needed more coffee. Or maybe I did.
Okay, I thought, she hasnt answered my question about apologizing to the
dog, but even if she did need to apologize to the dog, how would that impact on
her fitness as a parent? I definitely needed more coffee.
Youre already an excellent parent.
No, Im not. The distress was clear in her voice.
Sometimes, trying to piece Damians verbal conversation together, along with
the one she carries on with herself in her head, is really difficult. Shell
be so far ahead in her thought process that you have to make giant leaps in your
own thought processes to handle some of the statements that seem to come from
left field. I hadnt had enough coffee to make any size leap right then.
Damian, slow down for a second.
Why do you need to apologize to the dog?
She blinked at me. Why would I apologize to the dog?
You said..... I stopped. Maybe she meant she needed to apologize to
me. I had no idea why she would think that. I had barely seen her yesterday, and
when I climbed in bed last night, the only thing she did was roll over, grab me
and grunt a little. But I was starting to get a little irritated. It was seven
oclock on a Saturday morning, after all, and I hadnt finished my second
cup of coffee yet. An apology directed to me was starting to sound pretty good.
My mind could manufacture some offense that I could apply it to. I told myself
to take a deep breath.
Her eyes squinted as she looked at me. Apologize to the dog? she questioned
again. She sounded as confused as I felt.
I waved my hand at her. Forget the dog. Like the dog would understand
an apology anyway. If she wanted to apologize to the dog, she could. I didnt
care about the dog right then.
What makes you think youre not a good parent?
I...the dog was.....
Not the damn dog again, I thought. I cut her off. Honey, do you consider
yourself the dogs parent?
Well...no. She sounded slightly offended.
Then please forget the dog.
But...I...yesterday afternoon, I yelled at Diego for putting the....
She hesitated for a moment. Puppy...on the counter.
I finished a huge swallow of coffee. I wondered if the morning light that had
just crept in through the kitchen window was natures signal for dawning
realization as everything clicked into place in my mind. Its times like
these that I realize exactly how much I love her.
Damian, first of all, you dont yell. She really doesnt.
And she has the patience of fifty Jobs. You made a mistake. Youll
make more. So will I. Just talk to him about it. Its not the end of the
world. Youre a wonderful parent.
Parents dont make mistakes. She said that with all the conviction
in the world.
Yes, they do. Theyre not perfect.
I thought...parents arent supposed to make mistakes.
In an ideal world, they dont. But this isnt an ideal world.
If this is the worst mistake we ever make as parents, well be damn lucky.
I dont like it.
Neither do I, but were not perfect. I could see by the look
on her face that I wasnt very convincing.
I didnt even listen to him when he told me he didnt do it.
Her tone was full of self-reproach.
I reached for her hand and held it, my thumb rubbing the back of her hand. You
didnt think the dog could get up there without help. I wouldnt have
thought the dog could, had I not seen it with my own two eyes, half-awake as I
may have been. I gave her a gentle smile. The important thing is that
you tell him you were wrong and apologize to him. Thats how hell learn
that its okay to make mistakes, and that you rectify them if you can.
Jesus, Jules. Whatever made me think I could do this? She shook her
head. I never even had parents.
Ah, a little insecurity and fear raising its ugly head, I thought as I reflected
on what she had just said. I always have to remember that she does have those
moments, because most of the time shes so damn competent and in control.
I love her for her weaknesses. I think it makes me love her even more, really.
It may be a little bit of my ego talking, but I dont like perfect. And knowing
how closely guarded she keeps her feelings and emotions, its an excellent
sign to me that she loves me and trusts me. Id rather lose my right arm
than betray that trust.
You thought you could do it because you can. I leaned over and kissed
her softly. My angel. It takes a lot of courage and sacrifice and love to
have kids and do it right. You have all of that. I hesitated, because I
wasnt sure what I was about to say next would go over well, and I really
didnt want to get her upset so early in the morning. Discussing her parents,
or lack thereof, was not a subject we ventured into frequently. At best, she would
remain silent. I hoped for silence.
Shes very circumspect and analytical when it comes to her feelings and emotions.
She doesnt trust her initial emotional reaction to most things, even though
its usually the same thing that she ends up deciding shes feeling.
Its good and bad, because Ive seen her try to rationalize and justify
things that really are incapable of rationalizing and justifying. Its as
if she says to herself, Okay, what am I supposed to be feeling? rather
than What am I feeling?
I learned early on that it takes her some time to process things on an emotional
level and determine what she is really feeling. Wed talk about this again.
That much I knew. It might be later this afternoon or it might be two weeks later.
Thats whats important. That we would eventually talk about it.
I dont know if that makes much sense, but thats how she is. I think
that she does it because of her experiences or lack of them. I was lucky. I had
parents who set a good example. She didnt have that. What I find amazing
is her outlook on all that. Shes angry with her parents, her mother in particular.
But shes never used things that happened to her as an excuse for anything.
It just is what it is, as shes so fond of saying.
Having parents is no guarantee that youre going to be a good parent.
You know that, sweetheart. Youve seen it plenty enough times on the job.
She dropped her eyes down and fiddled with her coffee cup, but didnt let
go of my hand. That was a good sign.
You care about Diego. You love him. You want whats best for him. And
I know youll do everything in your power to make sure that it happens.
I reached over and brushed her hair back. I love you, you know. She
looked up and those blue eyes blinked at me.
I love you, too, Jules. Im, um, being kind of silly about this, huh?
She had the cutest little sheepish look on her face.
Not silly at all, baby.
She cleared her throat a little. Its...I just worry about all this.
I want to do it right.
I know you do. I do, too. Well get it right, okay?
Okay. A shy smile. Thanks.
I would do anything for her, you know. Shes definitely low maintenance.
She and I laugh about it. Shell look at me with that goofy, lop-sided grin.
Darling, just a pat on the head every now and then is all I need.
Shes actually very serious about that. Thats what shed settle
for, because thats the only thing she ever got from anyone.
I wont settle for that, and Im not going to let her settle for that,
either. It would be so easy just to take from her and not give anything back.
Shed let me. Most of the time, it takes very little effort on my part. I
just have to listen and be patient. Damian DAvanti may not have loved many
people in her lifetime, but God, when she does, you get it all. I have to really
watch myself to make sure that I dont forget to give back to her when Im
stressed out. I know that I did that after everything happened with Diego. Im
not very proud of myself for doing that. But I did it. I need to follow my own
advice - talk to her and apologize.
Maya just came in. Damians not too far behind, Ill bet. Its
a funny thing about that dog. She loves that dog to death. I bet if I asked her
today if she considered herself to be Mayas parent shed still act
offended. But I know better. Ive even caught her standing in the kitchen
next to the counter, the dog sitting happily on top of it as Damian talked to
her. Makes me wonder if the dog would have understood the apology I thought she
was going to get. I just fold my arms and glare at both of them. Its kind
of fun. That I didnt put her up there protest she does...it
reminds me so much of Diego. I miss him. I wonder if it will ever stop hurting
this much. I think Ill go find her and get a hug.
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