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It's late, I thought, but I can’t just leave these dirty dishes in the sink, it was only a pan and a couple plates; so not that much. I drearily picked up the first plate and began scrubbing. My mind trails off and I start thinking about what would happen once I grow up and become an adult. What would change? My mind quickly snaps back to reality when I hear the honk of an angry driver. I stare out the window into the vast city.
The window over the sink has a great view of the night sky, I thought to myself. I looked down at the people walking and talking.
Although it was night, the city still bursted with light and noise. I thought of the saying “The city never sleeps” which in my mind is true. No matter how late it was you could always hear a dog barking viciously at a potential intruder or the honking of cars when their drivers are annoyed by the amount of traffic at this hour. I began washing dishes, when not even two minutes later my father walks in.
“Why are you up at this hour?” he asked smiling.
I remained silent, like a roach who had just been spotted by the human denizens.
I never realized how much power there is in silence. Even my father was stumped when trying to carry the conversation.
“Listen, Esme this continuous string of silence has got to stop. I understand you miss her, we all do but you have to move on.”
The words move on bounce around in my head like a ping pong ball. Move on? How can I just “move on” when death had to capture my mother like a damsel in distress, never to be seen or brought home again.
I had always blamed my father for the death of my mother. The night of mother’s death they had been in an argument. To take a breather, mother decided to get in her blue hatchback and drive around for a little bit. I remember asking where she was going, to which she ignored me. She got into a horrendous car crash that resulted in her gruesome death.
I remember that day vividly because it's the day I lost everything.
I think of the saying “You don’t know you have something great until it's gone”. A saying I never used to understand as a child but it has grown on me since the day mother died.
And for my own father to be so vulgar as to tell me to “move on” was disgusting in my eyes. Father had moved on so quickly after the accident, that I stopped talking to him completely, we really didn’t have anything in common to talk about anyways. But I always questioned why he could be so cruel as to move on that fast. How could he get over mother's death so easily? His own wife’s death?!
“Esme…?” my father asks.
My father walks over to me and puts a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have said that, you shouldn't just ‘Move On’, you should be allowed to grieve.”I know it’s been a year, but I can’t bring myself to put her out of my mind.
I jerk his hand off my shoulder. I can see his face in the stainless steel pan, his face has been sunken in to make him appear older than he actually is. A sudden feeling of guilt attacks me like a wild bear attacking a fish in the stream. I try to shake my mind off it but something keeps bringing me back. It's not a bad feeling more like a warm, cozy feeling. A memory.
I suddenly remember the time my mother, father and siblings were taken to the park. The weather was beautiful. Sunny with a breeze here and there. My brothers started playing football while my sisters and I sat with mother. My mother would tell of haikus and sonnets they were beautiful poems she had read and would tell us of them.
My memory comes to a halt when I catch a glimpse of father’s wedding ring in the reflection of the pan. I couldn’t stop my tears anymore and I allowed myself to cry. I hadn’t wept like this in a long time and I forgot how nice it was to cry. It's a nice sensation that relinquishes the soul after holding back the pain for so long.
For years I have tried to be as strong my mother, not just for my own good, but for the good of my whole family. Everyone depended on me and I couldn’t let them down by looking weak.
The wave of guilt suddenly returns to me, more strong and powerful now, I now realize I have been selfish. Treating my brothers and sisters poorly, but mainly excluding father, sealing him off from my life like a cap holding in water. He had done so much to support this family and all I had done was shut him out. Block him like a door closed off to the light.
I looked back into the pan to take a better look at father’s face. His face was even deeper now, the lines in his face have grown deeper with a sad, disappointed look. His rough edges have now been smoothed over, its something I never realized. He looked like clay that had been dipped in water. His face looked heavy from years of work and sadness. How could I be so narcissistic to think I was the only one who suffered this loss?
“Esme…? “ Her father asked compassionately
Finally after all this time of hating my father, I gave in and admitted I was wrong which is something I hate doing. Resenting my father would not bring her back. I should focus on keeping and cherishing the only parent I have left.
“I’m sorry” I say quietly
Salty tears run down my face, they feel like fire on my cheeks. The tears departed from my eyes and splashed in the sink creating a small puddle.
My father takes my hands, and says “You have nothing to apologize for.”
He smiles at me, as if he had smiled at me a million times before.
I stare back out into the city, looking down at the little people, the lights changing colors, the annoyed drivers. I put dividers on the sides of my face and blocked out the things that were difficult.
Putting those dividers down,
I see anew.