Alee

In the spring of 1990 I moved to Thailand.

In the spring of 1991 I lived with a girl named Nok for four months. A few days after we broke up I took her to the hospital and had her checked. She was pregnant.

In January of 1992 our daughter was born. Her mother said her name was "Alee". I got her a U.S. Passport; it said on her passport "Alee Canfield". I did not know at the time that her Thai name was "Aree"; like most Isan people her mother pronounced "R" like "L".

Nok was a lousy mother; Alee spend most of her days with me.

In June of 1994 Alee was just over two years old. I was living in Kampaengphet with my girlfriend Jen and, of course, with Alee also. The three of us had rented a house. The house had usual rooms, including one room downstairs that I had converted into an office. My notebook computer was in that room.

One day I was trying to work. Jen was in the kitchen. Alee was pestering me. So I pushed Alee out of the office room, handed her to Jen, and said something like "Watch the kid!". Then I locked the door of the office.

The windows of the office were open. A while later I looked up and saw Alee standing there, not moving at all, just staring at me. I turned away and said in Thai "PAPA TAM NGAN", "Daddy is working". A minute later I looked up again and she was gone.

Later I heard a scream. It was Jen. I ran out of the office and Jen was in the bathroom. Alee was in the bottom of the water tank, face down. I picked her up and held her upside down to let the water drain out of the her lungs. Then I lay her down and breathed into her mouth, forcing air into her lungs. I did the best I could with heart massage; as I had been taught, two hands over the heart, quick push and relax, fourteen times, then 2-3 forced breaths into the mouth.

It was not working. We piled onto the motorcycle; me driving, Jen behind me, Alee between us held in Jen's arms. We drove to a clinic near the house. I carried Alee in to the doctor. They had me lay her down on a bed there, and gave her an injection, and left us alone.

A few minutes later, Alee started to stink. It was a strange citrus smell that I had heard of but never smelled before. It was then that I knew that she was dead.

I stood up and walked out of the room. I was unthinking, inactive, passive. I sort of assumed that they would throw the body into the dumpster. No, a pickup truck arrived and they put Alee's body into the back of the pickup truck and of course I sat with the body. The truck drove to Jen's parents' village a few kilometers up the road. I slept at Jen's parent's house.

The next day they had the funeral at the temple. It was a small rural Thai Buddhist temple. They cremated the body; not in an oven, but in an open pit.

The morning after the funeral Jen and I walked from her house to the temple. I remember that, on the way, walking, my eyes started to water. After about ten paces, my eyes stopped watering. I did not alter my pace.

My heart was dead; I could not feel anything. I did not want to live, I did not want to die. I did not want to go, I did not want to stay. I did not want to stand or sit or lie down. My heart was dead. I just moved, as directed by others.

When we got to the temple we looked at the cremation pit. There were ashes and bones. I picked around and found the remains of her skull. I took a piece of it, about one by two centimeters. Later I bought a chain and locket and I wore that piece of Alee's skull for nearly a year. The following spring I lost it; or perhaps Jen threw it out.

This was in June of 1994.

Today it is 28 November 2013.

This evening, while watching the movie "V For Vendetta", I cried for Alee. I cried for my beautiful darling little girl who died so young and who loved her daddy so much, and her daddy loved her more than life itself. I cried for Alee for the first time in twenty years.

Right now I am living alone in Bangkok. I work, and sleep, and eat, whenever I feel like it. I live alone, terrified that if I live with Wing, some day I will lock the door and Wing will die.

I saw Alee, unmoving, outside my office window, staring me. I turned away and said "Daddy is working". Later I looked up and she was gone. To this day I do not know whether I saw her before she died, or after.