More Than Words

April 28, 2008
It is hard to keep your status when your world is falling apart before your very eyes. At school, I was on top of the world. I was the best thing that ever happened to Hinkleton High. At home, on the other hand, my life seemed to be nothing but a washed up cardboard box on the sandy shores of Oregon, empty and useless. At least that’s what I thought until my rescue.

My name is Emmalynn.

So let’s take a few steps back and look at my life about thirteen months ago, before total disaster struck. Now, me and my dad, we used to hang out all the time. We’d go on daily strolls through the park since he was trying to shed those “old man pounds” as he liked to call them. It was an old, overgrown park so it made a good home for the squirrels that often came to greet us. The park was one of my favorite places to be. It was so peaceful by the fountain and hearing the laughter of young children swinging on the wooden swings always relaxed me. My favorite part of the park was the rose garden with all its red and pink and purple flowers. Gobs of butterflies often danced among the vibrant petals. They were magnificent. Huge swarms of them would pass so close to your face you could feel a breeze among your cheeks. Butterflies fascinated my father. He was an attorney from Harvard, but in his spare time he read like there was no tomorrow, especially books about butterflies. He always told me, “Emmy, no matter what butterfly of great symmetry and grace comes across my path, my love for you surpasses them all.” I loved it when he called me Emmy. We would usually come home after that and he would make us home-made smoothies and we would talk. I talked to him about almost everything. We were way closer than me and Mom since I never met her. She left my dad the day I was born but I tell you what he did a heck of a job raising my brother Tristan and me. He protected us like and army protects its country. He told us time and time again he would absolutely never leave us stranded. But now none of that mattered because my life was about to change forever.

It was the perfect day for a disaster. By the time I got to school it was raining on my curly, blonde locks, I forgot my math homework, and I just felt a little off that day; like a sixth sense or something. In the middle of math class I was told by my teacher, Mr. Reed, that I was getting picked up early. I was relieved that I wasn’t going to have to show up to class without my homework and I could get out of the rain. When I got to the office I was surprised to find Tristan had come to pick me up. I knew he had a class at the local community college so I was thrown off. He had an awkward, misleading face on, which made me nervous. The sixth sense was coming back. My stomach turned like a cement truck turning and turning and turning. When we got into his ancient, rusted red Ford pick up truck I asked him what was up. I remember his exact words.

“Emmalynn, D...Dad he...he died Emmy.” I felt like someone just dumped a hundred pound boulder on top of me. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breathe. There was a lifeless pit in my stomach. I was empty. It seemed like time had come to a halt. I couldn’t even find it in me to let out a measly tear. I looked at my brother. He looked deader than a salmon at the open market on Sunday. He started the car and left. We exchanged no words for twenty minutes until we pulled into our driveway. I felt a tingly sensation building up in my nose. Finally the dam gave way and I cried. I cried and cried and curled into a ball. I wanted nothing more than to weep like a newborn baby. Tristan had to pull me out of the car as softly and gently as he could. He carried me inside, my damp face nested in his curly brown hair. We cried alone together for hours upon hours. So much that you couldn’t use all the tissues in the world to catch or tears of sorrow.

Weeks went by before we could go a day without crying. Doctors determined he died of a heart attack. I guess he had too many “old man pounds” after all. Dad’s funeral had past. So many people tried to offer us support and help but we didn’t want it. Tristan made the decision to take me in and raise me until I was eighteen. All we needed was each other. Besides, it got annoying having people asking, “How are you doing,” every five minutes of our lives. We had our own ways of coping. We visited his grave everyday. We would guess just about where Dad’s casket was and tip-toe around him, careful not to stomp on him, and then lie down on either side of his tomb. Everyday we would do this and reminisce on our times with him and cry more. Eventually we started doing this less often.
It was the day of my eighteenth birthday and a year had gone by since the funeral but still I felt so much angst. There was the ongoing pain of knowing in the morning Dad wouldn’t be there with breakfast on the table. When I got home from school he wouldn’t be there, and he wouldn’t be the one to pick me up from dance classes on Thursdays. He loved to watch me dance too. This made my birthday far from a celebration. Not to mention all it meant was I wasn’t under Tristan’s care anymore and I had to live my whole adulthood without my father.

So I spent my “special day” visiting my Dad’s grave. This time I went without Tristan to comfort me. I sat there by Dad running my fingers across the smooth granite gravestone. Etched into it was a saying I always loved to hear him say, “Emmy, no matter what butterfly of great symmetry and grace comes across my path, my love for you surpasses them all.” At that moment I smiled the biggest smile I had ever smiled. I finally understood what he was trying to tell me. I was so grateful to know that my Dad had loved me so much and no matter if he was here on Earth or in my heart he was there to take me under his wing. I slowly turned onto my back taking in my new found inspiration and looked toward the sky. Within a moment the most magnificent butterfly I had ever known landed on the bridge of my freckled nose. Its purple wings with light blue and green formations tickled my cheeks as it wings flapped in the breeze. Immediately I began to cry but this time not tears of mourning and sorrow, but tears of joy and strength.

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