I have spent a lot of time trying to decide how to write this particular post. The title came to me in the middle of an eight-hour long drive, but the words have been elusive.
September 20 was Bucket's birthday. It was also the day that he left Pittsburgh for the state of Indiana, near Chicago, for work. He was gone for almost three weeks, and each night it got harder and harder for Llama. She's a daddy's girl, almost without exception, and she was missing him. For the first few nights, I handed my cell phone to her and she talked to him on the phone. She started waking up in the middle of the night, crying and asking me to get her daddy.
Bucket went and bought a webcam. My laptop has one built in. For the next week, we used Google's video chat (super simple and already set up because we both have Gmail accounts), and that helped a bit because they could see each other. But it got harder and harder for us to coordinate the chats because of his work schedule, her bedtime schedule, and the one-hour time difference. On the first night we missed one, Llama got up in the middle of the night, crying and asking me to get her daddy. On the second night we missed one, the same thing happened, only it was worse because she was hitting me and telling me that I wasn't her daddy, and begging me to go get him.
I had a free weekend, with nothing going on (a rare thing). I have a brand new car. What was stopping me from taking her to Indiana? It would be the longest drive I'd ever done alone, but I seemed to be one of the only people who was NOT concerned by that. Llama has puked in or on the way to Erie (PA), Sandusky (OH), Orlando (FL), Annapolis (MD), and many other places. But the seats are leather and she's washable. I determined that we would leave on Friday afternoon, after I was done with my internship hours, and drive through the evening and arrive about midnight.
The next day my cell phone leapt out of my pocket and into the toilet of doom. I frantically stuck my hand in a vessel of my own urine to save it, but it was not to be saved. Would I make this drive without a cell phone? No. I paid an obscene amount of money to replace it with a clone. The clone is even purple like the old one was.
My internship supervisor, upon learning of my plan, advised me to just take the day off on Friday and drive during the day. Oddly, she doesn't even know about my inability to drive safely at night. So we set off on our journey. Llama knew that we were going to Indiana and that her daddy was in Indiana, but I don't think her brain made the connection that we would see him there.
The drive was uneventful. I sent Bucket pictures from my (new, uncontaminated) cell phone at every stop so that he could see our progress. We arrived at Bucket's hotel and went swimming while we waited for him. We were the only people in the pool, and it seemed like we were the only people to use it in a long time. Llama has this neat little lifejacket/arm floaty thing and it keeps her pretty independent in a swimming pool. She's never more than an arm's length away from me, but she does not like to be constrained. She paddled around for almost an hour.
We went back upstairs, showered and cleaned up, got out some books and puzzles and played for a while, and then Bucket sent me a text that he was almost there. His room was directly over the entrance to the hotel, which was excellent for this next part. I put Llama in the window as he pulled into the parking lot. She was happy, looking at cars and telling me what color they were. And then he got out of his rental car. Llama could not contain herself - her excitement and joy were just too big. She was jumping and saying, "My daddy! My daddy is here! Look, it's my daddy!" and then he looked up and waved to her. I was in tears over how happy I had managed to make her, and we went out to meet the elevator. She was wiggling and jumping and laughing, and she kept patting his face and hugging him and saying, "My daddy." It was one of the best moments of my life, and it had nothing to do with me.