DAY 5, 4/20/2017
Today is the first day I'm starting this force of positive energy thinking about my daughter Phoenix and how it's now been 5 days since she's been kept from me by her mother with no stated reason. I've known Phoenix since she was 1 years old (two months prior to her 2nd birthday) and she has lived with me continuously since she was just over 2 years old. Phoenix is now 7 and will be 8 this year. I am the only dad she has ever known, not having ever met her biological father. She calls me dad, I call her my daughter. She's in my will 50/50 with her younger brother Kingston, my 4-year biological son who shares a mother with Phoenix. I took her in and have cared for her as a loving father for the last five years. We have a bond that is truly remarkable, and I have loved seeing her grow through the years in so many ways. I would say her favorite times with me are when I read to her and her brother each night. I have done this with them every night since their mother walked on out them with no warning whatsoever, while the kids and I were away at the beach having fun with my brother and my mom, only to come home to a half empty house and no idea where their mother was. That was back in September of 2015, and in that time I have read them the Eragon series of dragon books, and the Wildwood series of fantasy books. Each of these books are 800 pages or more, and it's been fun watching Phoenix become enamored with each story, and listening to her questions about them the next mornings at breakfast before school.
Speaking of Phoenix's school, it's practically across the street from my house. Each morning we walk the short distance to her school, always arriving exactly on time or a few minutes early. Being on time is very important to me, and it's something I've seen Phoenix embrace over the years and I am happy for her. This bonding experience has been temporarily cut short starting this week, as I received an email from Phoenix's mother last week while I was on a business trip in Berlin, Germany telling me that I had no rights to ever see Phoenix again, with no stated reason. The previous communication from Phoenix's mother was less than a week earlier, in which she and I traded texts discussing this summer's holidays and which days each of us wanted the kids. And immediately prior to this email from Phoenix's mother stating I could never see Phoenix again, her mother had sent several emails stating that the only reason she was allowing me to see the kids was because they loved me.
So it's a bit confusing for me right now; I left on a business trip and had a daughter whose life I've been actively involved in on a daily basis since she was 2 years old, and now I'm back home and am having to initiate legal proceedings just to get back to square one.
I will continue to post to this website every day Phoenix is held from me, with stories about her life and the special things she does.
DAY 6, 4/21/2017
Phoenix likes to arrange her stuffed animals just so in her bed. She has a loft bed that's above the queen mattress Kingston and I sleep on, and it's almost a guarantee that I'll get hit with at least one soft stuffy in the middle of the night as it falls from her bed. Phoenix's technique is that she lifts the top two blankets and arranges the stuffies in a line going down the left and right sides of her bed. And it's also very important to her to wear one of my old t-shirts as her nightie. Once she has the nightie on and the stuffies placed, the final step is to place her oversized stuffed dog Charlie at the foot of her bed.
One of the things Phoenix has told me many times is how much she appreciates that I take the time to hang out with her at bedtime. Her mother doesn't have as much patience unfortunately, and Phoenix says she never waits 'til they're asleep (Phoenix and her brother) before leaving the room, and that if she does read to them it's not for very long. Personally I love the bond that comes from reading to a child, and am happy to read for as long as it takes for the kids to fall asleep. It's been my experience that they sleep very deeply this way, and wake up well rested and healthy.
Speaking of healthy, Phoenix eats very well for a 7-year old. Perhaps it's just her being a girl, but she rarely complains about vegetables and always finishes her dinner. Breakfast can be a bit of a challenge still, as Phoenix loves to pontificate about what outfit she will wear to school, and to brush her hair for a long time, and pretend she's cranky for the first few minutes after waking. But then she apologizes for being that way and says it was just because she was tired, which amazes me coming from the mouth of a 7-year old. Us adults could take a cue from children's forthrightness!
DAY 7, 4/22/2017
Today is my dad's 75th birthday. When Kingston and I Facetimed him, we were all very disappointed that Phoenix could not be there to say happy birthday to her Grandpa Allen. We talked about Phoenix though, and what a great artist she is. It's been amazing to watch her progress over the years from filling in coloring books to making up her own detailed drawings. She loves to draw trees, and clouds, and flowers, and people. Her favorite people to draw are her family, meaning herself, her brother, and her dad. I've included one of her drawings here, of which there are dozens more with slight variations in the drawings but always the same title. It makes me both sad and happy to see this drawing right now, and I am looking forward to the next drawing Phoenix hands me.
DAY 8, 4/23/2017
Today is hard. I go in the kids bathroom and see Phoenix's Barbie mermaid dolls in the tub. I walk down the hall and see Phoenix's shoes on the shoe rack next to Kingston's and my own. I go in the kids bedroom and see Phoenix's loft bed all made up with her array of stuffies around her pillow. It feels like she's going to pop out of one of these places and tell me some bad thing Kingston said to her. Or she's going to want to show me how she arranged her plastic horses all in a row for their dance. Or show me her latest drawing.
Her absence is becoming more pronounced each day and I'm having to work extra hard to keep her in my heart and to know that she is doing the same, wherever she is right now.
There was always a photo of Phoenix resting on the base of my Apple Cinema Display, which I've now taken to keeping in my car just below the stereo. It's a school photo, and in it Phoenix is smiling and happy, and it's hard knowing she's not as happy now as she was in that photo, and that she's done nothing to deserve what's been done to her.
Phoenix, I really, really, really miss you! And love you as my daughter and am so sorry you have to go through this and want you to know you've done nothing wrong. I am looking forward to the day I can pick you up again and hug you and see that smile.
DAY 9, 4/24/2017
Phoenix loves to climb trees. There's a tree in front of her friend Iris's house that's perfect for kids to climb in, with low hanging branches and limbs that are too narrow to climb too high. For as long as I can remember Phoenix has felt a need to climb things, not just trees. I keep my weight bench in the covered patio of our backyard, and there's not a day that goes by when she's here that she doesn't go out and climb on the weight bench. She likes to spin herself around on the bar upside down, sometimes just hanging there and talking to me. When we were in Hawaii last August (I took the kids there for 10 days, just me and them, it was an amazing time that we all loved), Phoenix found a tree in the shade at Turtle Bay Resort and spent the entire afternoon there, accompanied by her brother and their two new friends—my high school friend Steve's kids—who are the same ages as my kids with the same difference in years apart. I've always hoped that she will find something later in life that will satisfy this constant need she has to be in motion, and not be stuck doing a computer job somewhere.
DAY 10, 4/25/2017
Phoenix I really miss you. I'm hoping you're keeping hope in your heart that we will see each other again soon. I know it's been hard for you, and I can't imagine what your mother must be saying to you when you ask her why you can't see your dad anymore. I'm glad that you will get to see your brother again tomorrow; it's been great having him here but we both feel your absence and I have told him again to let you know I love you and am working hard at getting you back in my house and in my life. I wish someone would tell me what you've been up to; I ask your brother but he's only 4 and doesn't really grasp the situation. The picture of you and your brother is still on my desk, I'm looking at it right now and it gives me hope and the courage to sustain this protracted separation. I love you!
DAY 19, 5/04/2017
After that last entry I found it too difficult to continue this until now. I miss you Phoenix, so much more each day! It's been so hard having your brother come to my house on your regular schedule and not to see you too. I miss you playing on my weight bench, and picking at the big tree outside, and bringing me flowers from the front yard. I miss your voice most of all, and I think today I'll work up the courage to watch some videos of you on the iPad just so I can hear it again. I've included one of your many drawings here again, thank you so much for making them all, they mean a lot to me.