In every morning of my life in your house, I awoke to the sound of your steps. You drummed down the stairs, deactivated the alarm, unlocked our front door, and then I’d hear your weight in the gravel driveway as you claimed the morning paper. I didn’t see you but knew you were in your sweats with the brown boat shoes you never wore on boats.
And in the evenings, I’d know your return with the sound of the garage booming open like a mechanic heavy mouth, swallowing your car whole. I’d hear the door to the garage, and then your yellow voice would charge up the stairs and fill the blue kitchen. “Hello, anybody home?” And when I was young, you’d ask, “And how was school today Miss Johnson?”
And I’d follow you to your room, clawing my way up the carpeted stairs. And I’d watch you slip off your tie and horn-buckled belt, then your heavy dark shoes. Soon you’d be in your undershirt and sweatpants with dark socks. You’d peel them off and toss them in the wicker hamper, then turn on a ball game.
When I was home sick, bored, sometimes I’d slide open your closet door and finger your ties, smelling your warm brown closet of leather. And when I’m sad, sometimes I wish I could regress and climb into that closet, or lie on the floor near your bed with a pillow and a blanket listening to sports as I fall asleep. But, I’m no mini-adult. I’ve had to learn to comfort myself, and with that comes a sense of proportion… and incredible strength. And a quiet heartfelt thank you for giving me something only I am capable of giving myself: self-love and forgiveness.
Thank you for teaching me that, even while you’ve been gone.