Oil painting by Brendan Ryan
"I went down your road today and thought of you."
I love that it will always be my road. Someone else calls it the road they live on now. I haven't lived there in over twenty years. No key chain of mine holds the key to unlock the front door. No rock has a hidden key underneath it. My hand print encased in cement near the barn. My teen hand and a heart carved with a stick. My initials scattered throughout the town. My hand print encased in cement on a sidewalk in town. My toddler hand pushed into the soft wet cement with my grandmother's hand pushing down on top of mine.
I unlock the front door. It opens and I step inside. It feels hard to breathe. Dad's lunchbox is on the shelf in the hall closet. The Styrofoam cups he used are in the that weird little area that looks like a drawer but it pulls out to the left...Aluminum foil, plastic wrap...
A gold cup hook on the inside sink door holds the yellow Tupperware strainer. Years of noodles strained and now for my children's macaroni. The linen closet where your sewing kit holds the good scissors. A plastic box holding all the baby bath items: powder and diaper rash creme, Johnson's baby wash, little wash cloths. Tub toys and beach towels...I know exactly how this door will sound as I slide it shut.
Turn right at the end of the hallway to get to my room. Once the room of my dreams: lavender walls and carpet. Luckiest girl in the world.
Go left to my sister's room. Her closet contains all the latest fashions she holds over my head for ransom.
At the end of the hall is Mom and Dad's room. My Dad has been dead for 13 years. On the five year anniversary of his death my body was cut open and his first grandchild was pulled out of my abdomen. I started sleeping with Mom on Dad's side of the bed.
The basement has cupboards painted in a rainbow of colors. I never asked why. Did you feel the need to be creative? Did you see it in a magazine? Now I wish I had the answer.
Stone slab steps that lead to the second driveway....All the pine trees planted in what used to house the garden. Carrots pulled too soon and rinsed with the hose on the side of the house. Green hose twisted and coiled like a snake. Carrots still slightly dirty and tasting of earthy victory. Our harvest on the the table nightly.
This family...feasting on dreams and Sundays spent sitting in church pews. Waiting, always waiting for the sentence to be accompanied by Amen. That meant we were almost done.
Did God call your name Dad? Did you hear it too Mom?
"I don't know why but I always seem to think about you and your sister when I go down that road."