One Year Later

| December 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

There were a lot of things left unsaid.

Your house sold, finally, more than a year later. Whatever we couldn’t take we sold for scraps, and the rest went to the dumpster, despite the price tags. You should have seen how my face lit up when I came home for Thanksgiving to find my inheritance sitting on top of my bureau after I thought it was simply forgotten in the chaos. There was nothing we could do about a lot of it.

Nothing felt stranger than driving down 6A and passing your street without taking the turn.

Your inheritance is going to good use, since we’re all redoing our kitchens now. Someone said you would have been proud to see it. The memories are scattered between the five of us; a couch here, a painting there, subtle reminders that you were once a part of our life.

photo credit: andrey.isakov Anna Akhmatova's grave via photopin (license)

photo credit: andrey.isakov Anna Akhmatova’s grave via photopin (license)

I hadn’t been to your grave since the funeral, but I saw the headstone for the first time. It’s magnificent, five feet wide, obsidian with the family name above and just your name, so far, down below. There will be more someday. Lord knows you bought enough plots to lay to rest the next three generations. When the house was sold, my dad got out of the car in the pouring rain and had a drink with you. He even poured one out into the soil for you. I rearranged the roses into alternating colors, red and gold, and shook off the dust.

I’m sorry it was hard for me to look at you, or, I suppose, what’s left of you. I wandered up and down the aisle, pointing out those who died young, those who were born after my dad, to keep my brain occupied. I wanted to be done with the tears. I am, mostly. They say the anniversary is the hardest.

I wrote you a letter on Halloween, as close to one year as I could get. I stood out on the fire balcony and burned it as I talked. The ancient Greeks burned their offerings to the gods in hopes that the smoke would rise to the heavens. I don’t know how to reach you, so that seemed like it was worth a try. I stood out in the cold and talked non-stop as it burned, ashes falling past my feet to the ground below, looking up at the moon since I had nowhere else to look but up.

I hope you know that we haven’t forgotten you. Even if the things we took are lost, or broken, we took your temper and your work ethic and your passion for drinking with us, too. We can talk about you fondly now. The wounds have healed, maybe not completely, but enough. The only thing we can do now is wait and let time smooth over the scars.

The firsts are over. The first Christmas, first Thanksgiving, first summer without you are past. We’re onto seconds now. One day I’ll lose track.

There’s a lot that I never knew about you. There’s a lot that I’ll never know about you. There are a lot of questions I wish I had asked before it was too late. There’s a lot of guilt that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. There are a lot of memories, once fond, now bittersweet, that will become fond again with time.

I hope the afterlife is real, and that whatever it’s like is happy. I hope you know how much we miss you, even though you’d protest that it was silly to get so worked up over you. I hope you know your memory won’t fade. I hope you know we still love you, very much.


featured photo credit: campra Naomasa’s Hydrangeas via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, Reflections

Charlie Scanlan

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Charlie is a journalism major in the College of Communication.

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