I guess you could say we were experiencing “tough times.” I longed to be back home, and I couldn’t look at Haddie without tearing up. Haddie’s mannerisms reminded me of my uncle, and the way she laughed sounded just like my aunt. I felt a strange mixture of happiness and helplessness; I was thankful for Haddie unlike I’d ever been before, but the sadness of our situation was almost debilitating. I knew that our exile and the death of Haddie’s parents was out of my control, but that only made my craving for control all the stronger. I was scared of how unpredictable and unstable life felt, so I threw myself into protecting Haddie and predicting potential perils. I found stability in my daily routine …breakfast with Haddie, dishes, an hour in the garden, visit the king’s gate to gather news and run surveillance for threats, lunch with Haddie, dishes, nap, another trip to the king’s gate, dinner with Haddie, dishes, read, bed. Things seemed relatively steady. But then, one day I returned home from my afternoon trip to the king’s gate and Haddie was gone. She wouldn’t dream of venturing into the city without me accompanying her. Haddie’s absence was unprecedented. I must’ve froze, standing silent in the living room for an hour or more, because the sun was starting to set when my neighbor came to inform me of the raid. I emerged from my state of shock into something more surreal when I learned that Haddie was now in the king’s harem; and by the next morning I had resolved to somehow continue my supervision of Haddie. I had already been forced to leave my home and live in exile, and I had already lost my aunt and uncle; and now, with Haddie in the harem …I simply refused to accept the fact that my last shreds of control were vanishing. So every day I walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Haddie was and what was happening to her.

I have always taken pride in being the provider and protector; and I’ve always disdained being dependent on other people. But at some point I realized that there’s no escaping my neediness. I suppose it was the day that Haddie gave me the deed to Haman’s house, and the signet ring of the king. In that moment I couldn’t avoid the reality that I had done NOTHING to bring this about. For all my ambition to protect and provide for Haddie, here she was protecting, and providing for, me. And it was extravagant! I had hoped for mere survival, but never did I dare imagine residing in the mansion of my enemy, or receiving his royal position! But that is what was being freely offered to me that day. I look back on the moment when I was forced to leave my home, and I remember promising myself that I would never feel this needy ever again. But I must break that promise, because to keep it would require me to refuse the gifts being given to me by my kid cousin, the Queen of Persia, the God-appointed protector and provider of our people.