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October 17, 2010
Among the crowd of people stood a man holding his child’s hand, reflecting on the choices he has made. Everyone has made a bad decision every now and then, however, repeating and dwelling on mistakes makes them dangerous; he knows that, but he’s tried to repent his sins and bad decisions in his life.

He squeezed his little boy’s hand to reassure the six year old. Languidly, he bent down to whisper words of comfort in the boy’s ear. He knew his son was nervous because all eyes were on them. They blamed him; he knew that, but he was comfortable being the scapegoat. After years of being his family’s black sheep he had grown accustomed to the glares and whispers that occur when he walked into a room.

People looked at him oddly for his life choices, but everyone does things for the same reason: security. That’s all people really want. For a while he struggled to obtain just one type of security, so he used the money he could get his hands on to purchse different types of escapisms.

He can also see the way people look at his son strangely and gossip about his wife—technically, his separated wife. The thought of her caused a number of emotions to rise—anger, bitterness, yearning, and most of all loneliness. They had been together for so long that the marriage was easily foreseen, but that didn’t mean anyone approved. They encouraged each other to do a copious amount of unethical things; the severity of these things depended on what substance they were abusing at the time. In high school they broke tedious misdemeanors that gradually turned into identity theft and embezzlement.

He tried to convince his brother and his sister-in-law he had reformed his ways and was trying to strive for a better life, not for himself but for his son. He told them that he wants to see his boy do things like play soccer, excel in school, and strive later in life.

They didn’t believe him, of course. They never did for the almost-thirty years they had known him. They can’t let go of the past mistakes he’s made. So he had been a screw up, sure, but they aren’t perfect either—with his temper and her spending habits…

Someone called his name, ripping his attention from his thoughts.

He looked up with a somber expression. “Yeah?” he answered.

“Would you like to say your last goodbyes?” the priest asked kindly.

He nodded robotically and placed one of his rash-ridden hands on the glossy casket that held his father’s body. He stared intently at the wooden coffin and tried to imagine his tiny, frail father lying at the bottom. Even though the vigil was yesterday and he saw his father lying there, it’s hard to wrap his mind around.

Dad, I don’t know what I’m going to do without you, he thought. There’s so much to do…so many things. They want to sell the house, they can’t sell the house. Where will Tyler and I live? I’m so scared. When Mom died I had you, but now I have no one. No one wants to help, understand? What am I suppose to do? I can’t do this alone. I need someone…

He lifted his hand from the coffin, refusing to make eye contact with anyone in the crowd. He didn’t want to see them judging him as the tears filled his eyes.

As the casket slid into the crypt, that also held his mother, he felt a gut wrenching panic. What was he suppose to do? With no job, possibly no home, no caretaker, and without a valid driver’s license he doesn’t have anything to hold on to except for his son’s hand. He squeezed it tighter, for his own comfort this time.

One by one people walked over to the coffin to say their last words. The first was his seventeen year old niece who bent down at her grandfather’s grave to pay her respects.

She whispered to her grandfather’s still body, “I forgive you.”

After she stood up and straightened out her black outfit. When she made eye contact with her uncle she gave him a look that screamed, “But I don’t forgive you.”

She made a brisk turn and walked over to her parents. The girl clutched her father’s arm in order to express the pain they share that words can’t even begin to express.

The man didn’t hide the shock from the girl’s blatant disrespect and silent accusation. Even if she didn’t use words, the look she gave him had said enough. She had never displayed any type of negative emotion towards him before this. If anything, he knew she had idolized him when she was younger, but that changed with age, as most things do.

But he knew that she didn’t understand, she couldn’t possibly understand. All he wanted was security.

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