08/04/2012 11:17 am ET

'Dear Daddy, What Happened To Us?'

This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.

By Jane Lippman

Dear Daddy,

I wonder sometimes, late at night, as to what has become of all of us. We used to be so open, so... affectionate. There would be hugs and kisses, cuddles, even bedtime stories accompanied by a glass of warm milk, before you would sing sister and me to sleep. I remember quite clearly the nights when you would carry us up the stairs and drop us on our beds. I remember the care with which you tucked us in, and how the sheets always would feel warmer when you did. I remember spending long days out, with even longer car rides home. I recall faking sleep a great number of times, just so I could be carried to bed -- so I could be held by you just that much longer.

And, when the nightmares came, you were always willing to listen to my childish babble, ready to tuck me in again or even let me crawl in your bed to sleep between you and Mommy. I remember being able to sleep so soundly with the knowledge that your door was always open, that I could always run to get you should anything plague me in the long hours of the night. I was always safe.

I can't put a date to when all of this changed. I don't know when you stopped singing to us, or to when you stopped putting us to bed... although I'm sure that my staying up later than anyone else surely contributes to part of it. I don't know when I started sleeping in colder sheets, or when I began reading myself to sleep. I don't know when I started sleeping with my door shut... or when you began to close yours.

It's so lonely, holed up in my room at an ungodly late hour, craving sleep yet unable to reach it. It's not any better, knowing I'll only live here for less than a year, before I have to stop seeing you altogether. It's so damn hard, growing up, leaving our closeness behind. It's only worse knowing you'll all get by just fine, will be better off without the restrictions of my pickiness, laziness, or negativity.

I thought I'd gotten over it, that I'd be able to suffer the parting just fine. I thought I'd be able to leave us in the past, or give you a new role in my life. I suppose I thought wrong... as per usual, eh?

I woke this morning, dazed and confused, to feel your added weight on the side of my bed, and, unless I was still dreaming, the pull of your fingers through my hair. I did not open my eyes, did not move my body, other than to call your name. I think, you may have asked me something, but then -- then I fell back asleep.

And now, here it is, already past midnight, and long past my bedtime. My door is shut, and so is yours, and not a note sung before sleep. Nothing much has seemed to have changed, not a day even gone by. It's our same old pattern, our old God forsaken routine, my new lullaby. All is the same and yet...

I know things will never change, you'll always keep your place. You're at the top on my list of "favorite things," right next to mom and little sister. And, God knows, I miss you, in the long hours of the night. I miss you as I pull blankets up over my sheets, and as I sing myself to sleep.

You know, don't you Daddy, that I was never all that fond of growing up...