I Didn’t Cry

June 3, 2010
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I didn’t cry when he died. I stood in the back of the crowd and listened to the priest eulogize about a man he’d neither spoken to nor met while he was alive. But there was no one else to do it, not my mother, who hadn’t bothered to fly in from the Caymans when we heard the news and certainly not my brothers, who were all too busy to leave their high paying jobs and fancy cars behind to head out to the middle of nowhere to say goodbye to the deadbeat husband and father who had left us all behind.

Some people complain about messy divorces and men just up and leaving without a word. I hate those people. My father called our entire family together one day, well, not one day, that makes it sound like the memory is hazy, and this memory is painfully clear. That day, June 23rd 1996, I was eight and three quarters years old, my father sat the family down in the den (a room only a little smaller than an Olympic sized swimming pool) and told us, point blank that he had been having an affair. He wasn’t in love though, he assured us, but he was leaving. Linda had showed him how meaningless his life was and he just couldn’t stand it anymore. He was leaving, he said. We could keep the money, the houses, the cars…he didn’t want it, he said and left. But what he didn’t say was that he didn’t want us, too.

When I heard the news, I didn’t know what to think. The remote man who I remembered dressed in fancy black suits bedecked with smart looking ties was dead. He’d died of a heart attack in some backwater town in Nebraska. He died alone. It took them nearly a week to figure out who he was and to track us down. I’m the only one who came. And all I can think is that he died alone in a town full of strangers. No one had known who he was or why he was there.

He died alone.

But whose fault is that? I think somewhat bitterly.

The priest leaves (we’re not even religious, you know) and people (strangers, every last one) walk up to pay their respects. After a moment, I get in line too.

Far too soon I’m standing in front of his grave. The dirt is fresh, another reminder that he’s dead and that in the end, he died alone.

I wonder id I hate him. I should, but I don’t think I do. I wonder if I’m sad, but I don’t think that I am. To be honest, I feel nothing, not even the numbness that victims of shock are so famous for sporting. I just feel…I fell like a stranger. That’s it. I don’t know the man buried there. He’s not my father. My father died a long time ago on a muggy day in June.

I lean down and grab a fistful of dirt in my hand. I let the dirt spill through my fingers like sand in an hour glass. For some reason, I wish I could cry.

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Jennie B. said...
Jun. 12, 2010 at 12:07 pm
I really liked this.  The emotion is real, for unless somebody is a drama queen, he or she wouldn't cry when somebody he or she isn't very fond of dies.  At first, I thought that the narrator was sticking up for her father, but I like the take you took on it much better.  Great job.
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