That winter I dreamed that my father was in his car, his jeep, and that my sisters and I had been called to say good bye to him. He said good bye and that he loved us and he waited for a machine to come and crush him. I woke up in a panic but refused to tell anyone about the dream.
It felt too real.
This week my dad will have been dead for 37 years. At some point in the future he will have been dead for longer than he was alive. We all will.
Now, I remember the day he died more than I remember him. It was a day like today, sunny and cooler. I walked home from school for lunch and saw a strange car in the driveway. I thought it might be a new company car for my dad. Maybe he had gotten a new job.
But he wasn’t there. A priest was.
My mother could not tell me. My godmother told me as I sat on her lap.
What I said was no.
I said no.
The days after that are filled with people and smoke and drunken laughter. Tight hugs from adults who needed them more than I did. Shopping for a dress I came to loathe.
A wall of lilacs across the back edge of the lawn. My cousin and I sat on the edge of the patio and squished ants until I realized that what we were doing was killing them. That they were now dead and that we had done that.
A few weeks before everything happened, I stood in the yard and watched a plane fly overhead. I thought about how there were people on it. People I didn’t know going places I had never been. I didn’t know why but I felt everything was changing and that terrified and thrilled me.
Later that summer everything was dull-edged and grown and you were no longer a child. Now, there is nothing in my mouth. A taste. Burnt coffee, singed. There was something to say but no words to say it. So much happened next. Hold on to that, if you can.