Happy Father’s Day, they say to me, because you’re that too, though I have never wanted to be both, and on a night when plans have been canceled, I find myself driving the route to the old house, the one where he died, circle the block once to see people having a barbecue on the deck, the boxwoods I planted now big, the white lilac I had tamed once again overgrown and wild, more treelike than flower.
When the man had asked to be let into all parts of my life, I wonder if this is a part he had meant, the woman, who parks three houses down from where things change forever, her head in her hands.
That night I come home earlier than expected, send the grandmother home, and when, that evening, the boy has nightmares, I let him sleep in my room because I don’t want to be alone that night either. While he settles into sleep, I head outside to the patio. I watch a hawk overhead for a time, its body tipping from side to side like some child’s errant kite, its wings catching air currents until it banks to the right and out of sight. When the dark comes, there is too, the sound of owl from trees, the last line of crow against the blue, there are too, all those small bugs.
You’re that too, they had said, as if it were a thing to be celebrated. And when I watch the night sky, I think of the way a widow always owns grief even if on most days she is trying to embrace joy, even the small joy found in a sky full of all manner of flying things, all that winged life, or the other kind, found in someone’s laughter before it’s gone. Wonder if this too is a part of me he had meant, or a part he no more wished to know than I wished to have it.
I might have asked him, if I had the chance, that too.