This blue ocean that we would’ve played in as kids drapes over the pile of lumber that has lived in the yard for months. Every time a breeze blows, the tarp shows the now-weather damaged wood that was supposed to be used to make a treehouse. The loss of a father is felt in many ways. I watched James sit in the yard in his overalls, knees to his chest as he cried that day, as he would never remember what it was like to be carefree at 11-years-old. Tears streamed down his freckle-dotted cheeks, eyes shining as he grappled with the impossibility of truth. His feet bare, I paid attention to silly detail, like how many blades of grass came up between his toes and places where the fabric had tore in his shirt. I smelled hickory and the decaying of leaves and became ravenous for Thanksgiving dinner. It began to grow dark and mist, but James sat there crying, every so often looking at the tarp; the way it would blow, almost like a ghost. But it just reminded me of Grimace.
As our father’s wooden coffin was carried down the makeshift aisle, he turned and watched, stunned. The gravesite wasn’t far. He followed with the rest of the congregation and there, with the throng behind him, fresh earth had been dug up, right next to my grave. Perfect size to accommodate the coffin. Whereas the scene might’ve been too much to bear for some, James had become so shocked and numb, he just watched it happen without caring. If he was numb, he wouldn’t cry and embarrass himself. Wouldn’t attract attention he didn’t want from Grandma and Grandpa. He wanted to be numb and be alone now. I hoped someone would save him.
The men slowly heaved and lowered.