Written by Melissa Lemay


Dear Child,


If I could be there for you in your time of need,

I would. But I can’t go back in time.


I would notice all the scars hidden underneath

you couldn’t speak. I would enfold you, let you


know it will all be okay. I would take all those

bad memories and erase them, making room


for joy and peace instead. I would give you

a bigger heart, and less room for holding pain.


I would instill quiet and stillness deep within,

replacing darkness and depravity and the sin


of man. I would make love more effective

at filling in all the blank spaces. If I could.


I wouldn’t lose you at the seashore, or

leave you sitting alone in the truck outside the


store. I would soothe the panic stricken system

you were presented, as an unwanted gift you


couldn’t return. If I could, I would listen to

all your stories, your adventures, your sadness,


you telling me about your day. I would come

to every swim meet, or at least one.


If I could, I would be your friend, so you

didn’t have to invent them, playing pretend


waitress, with a pen and a pad, writing down

orders from no one. I would not be always


rushing off or coming home from places;

instead of creating and planning for gaps,


I would fill them in. I would acknowledge

your achievements; more importantly, I would


acknowledge your heart that beats outside

so loudly it is never quiet. I would play cards


with you whenever you asked, and I would

thank God you wanted me around. If I could.


I would put together all the pieces, and at least

I’d teach you, how to make repairs when they


fell apart. I would build your self-esteem

and teach you that the most important


things in life never come undone. I would sit

outside on the roof with you and look up


at the stars, instead of screaming at you

to get down. I would never put my hand


around your throat and slam you against

the wall. I would not think to do that if I could.


I would help you learn patience, instead of

helping you learn that people never come


back. Hopefully you wouldn’t grow up so

anxious, always afraid of being left behind,


never trusting anyone, because I know what

that is like. And when you attempted suicide


at age 13, and your friend phoned me, emergent,

to let me know, I would not complain about


the ambulance, “now I’m going to have to

pay for that”.


If I could. I would give you a bigger heart,

and I would do whatever I could to not


rip it apart.


Text © Melissa Lemay



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