Written By: April L. Cashin
It is Father's Day.
A hushed day where the sunshine feels warm and comforting across her back and shoulder blades, bare beneath the thin fabric of her tank top, like reassuring hands soothing away a quiet ache. The sun is her personal Massage Therapist as it kneads and spreads relief to the tightened, clenched muscles of her age-worn grief.
The grass is a bristly carpet beneath her as she sits cross-legged, contemplative. With a trembling hand, long graceful fingers (“piano fingers” he used to call them) brush away the recent grass cuttings and dirt that are peppered across the face of the bronzed footstone that displays his name. She curiously watches the tiny ants that scamper away from her moving hand, watches the miniature life that is going on beneath her feet every day.
Those ants, they are amazing to her, even as they march resolutely across her father’s grave.
She studies the growth of grass across the surface of his grave, the new blades that support and create the bedding she now sits upon. For years, that grass was sparse, showing through to the patchy bald earth below. For years, she prayed for it to grow. Now she levels her hands gently across the tips of the blades, careful not to bend or crush them. Marvels at the spring in each blade that works together to form such a wonderfully lush layer.
She feels the tears in her eyes, bubbling tremulously beneath the lids, before she realizes she is crying. Silent tears rock her body and she self-consciously lowers her face so that her hair falls, like a curtain.
Another hand, larger and stronger, gently drapes across her shoulder. Protective. Nurturing. She looks up at him, a million silent ‘thank-you’s’ dance through the shiny brown of her eyes.
Thank you for being here with me.
Thank you for understanding how important this ritual is to me.
Thank you for loving me.
She finds herself smiling softly at him, tucks the curtain of hair back behind her ears.
She feels lightness in her heart, as if that squeezing, tight arm has loosened its hold. She slowly brushes the tears away, and her eyes bright like lucky pennies, seem to catch and refract the golden sunshine.
“Happy Father’s Day, Richie.” He murmurs, his eyes glancing across the tombstone before them. Her love, for them both, is so all consuming at that moment that she can barely breathe. She gets to her feet and lays a hand atop the tombstone, a brief goodbye, wishing she could actually feel the warmth of her father’s skin and not the sun-warmed roughness of the stone.
“Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.” She murmurs.
Beneath the healing hands of the early afternoon sun, they link hands and amble peacefully away.