My childhood is the nightlight
of my waning years.
My dad died,
on the front porch of my childhood home,
at the age of 68.
His dog at his side.
Only God could tell you what he,
and the dog,
went through in that moment,
like they spent most days of his retirement.
My mom still worked,
so she was not there when it all went down.
His final heart attack,
their next door neighbor,
finding him long after it was too late.
his little girl,
the Sheltie who kept him company.
Things we learn so late.
The smile and nod.
The dismissal of anger
when anger’s escalation feels so much more natural.
And the acceptance of the flaws of history,
in the things that can never change.
Because the past dies before we do,
yet we hold onto it tighter that we do our own departed loves.
Three days before his passing on the porch,
I had my last dismissal,
in a dinner and a game
with the man whose whole existence would shape my own.
Weakened by years and a failing heart,
he was now not the man of my youth,
but merely the container.
A shell of clear glass,
incapable of concealing anything,
especially the truth.
He was almost dead that night,
but in him I saw only life.
We said goodnight,
not in any sort of dramatic understanding of what was to come,
but in the knowing way two people
of the same DNA hug,
then smile and nod,
expecting nothing more than to do it all again,
the next time.
Your words once meant more to me than my next breath, until they didn’t. So well you did making that happen, through silence and invisibility, entered into, I assumed, for your own preservation, that you have seen to mine as well.
Till now that I, instead of hating you, thank you.
For what I once endured as a sign of your contempt, I now accept as a last act of love, unwitting. From which I emerge, knowing that, for both far better, and a little worse, I will never be the same.