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I glanced up to catch my breath,
My heart pounded and I wondered if it was echoing through the microphone.
I searched through the crowd for a reassuring face,
But became lost among the nameless eyes all staring back at me,
Some being blotted by tissues, others asking the unspoken questions,
I was an open book with pages unwritten,
And they were the readers waiting in anticipation.
But there were no answers to be said to meet their desires,
And silence gave way to my obvious need to avoid what was to come.
My eyes returned to the paper shuffling through my clammy fingers,
Perspiration smudged the black ink of the finely written text.
I knew it was a line I could not contort the muscles of my mouth to speak,
Causing a heart deep within to tug at its restraints
Like a puppet with strings tempting me to play my part of the mourner
But I continued to stand there like a wooden doll with a painted smile
Ignoring the muscle inside throwing a tantrum due to my reaction
But it had betrayed my mind as it pumped hot lead through my body
And I questioned my own strength to stop the floodgates overflowing,
One tear would only be the beginning to a hundred more in a dry city.
So instead I watched the little hand tick on ignoring my cry to cease time,
And my eyes darted once more through the sanctuary desperately pleading to retreat,
Searching for the back door previously hidden,
To fall through, disappear, existence cease to be
But then the little hand froze,
Time stood still,
All else disappeared,
The eyes, the tears,
All that existed were the tulips tied with a bow,
A crimson flame ablaze in the very first row.
This was no escape, no drug to cure my pain,
Simply the hammer that would shatter my delicate encasement of sorrows,
There was no question of whether the dam could hold or whether to break,
Only how devastating the flood would be.
The first of many tears swelled
As I continued to glare at the inferno of red tulips,
Daintily placed on the white satin chair,
With the mid-morning sun dancing through the windows
Playing on the tips of petals, radiating through the air,
I wished to curse the god who had made them so heavenly,
Blazing against the dulls of the suit jackets and coats.
The anger inside boiled,
Sizzling within clenched fists, clenched teeth,
Screams triggered their way through my body for the
Betrayal of the pain caused so many years ago,
A reminder of the life God took regardless of the destruction
Unleashed in its place
But then faintly through the watery mess spilling over down my cheeks
I recognized a face smiling back at me.
He was dressed in his normal suit and tie I had forgotten he wore,
For so long it had been only pajamas and I.Vs that incased his frail body.
His wavy brown hair had replaced itself atop his head
Bringing youth back to his appearance
And his eyes no longer attempted to hide the pain we all knew he suffered,
Instead they shone with the pride only a daughter’s father would know.
His hands appeared strong as I felt his longing to grip mine
But he just held the red tulips tied with a bow
The ones put in his place in the very first row
He smiled again,
A smile I once recognized in the mirror,
But that had died on that early March day
That grin gave me the strength to continue my task like I knew he would do,
But as I went to carry on
And found the next line on the paper with the tear to mark its place,
The words were no longer my own,
But instead scribbled were the words my father would have wanted to say…
“With every accomplishment you achieve,
Every goal reached,
Every tulip left to mark the emptiness you feel,
I am there.
Watching you, proud of you,
Constantly loving you”
As the words faded and disappeared into my own
My eyes quickly searched for his mouth to be singing them back to me,
But as I looked for my father in the crowd
all I found
Was the chair of red tulips tied with a bow
Shinning in the sun in the very first row.