April 23, 2010

Secrets Keep You Sick

I was 40, it was Christmas. Everyone was busy in the house. My step-mother was peeling spuds, my brother was distracting the kids, and my sister was overseeing the table settings. There was nothing left for me to do, or for him.

I slowly entered the lounge and slipped alongside him, standing by the couch. I waited. I knew my presence would be felt by him. I knew he'd think I wanted something, that this was my stupid attempt at being subtle. I could also sense his dread and swear I heard him say: "So this is it then."

"Feel like taking a walk?"

He looked at me, his face flashed sudden panic and then, just as quickly, it was erased and replaced with his a false sense of bewilderment.

"Just you and me, yeah?"

He stole a glance around the room as if to remind himself of where he was and the restraints that put on his reaction. "But dinner's almost ready."

"We have time"

I moved towards the door not looking to see if he would follow; I knew he would.

The beach we came to was deserted. I stood and took in the surroundings, knowing the next few moments could change my life forever. I took my time, wanting to savor the details. Sights like the sea that reached out to countries beyond my view and clouds that were nestling in for the night under a duvet of glowing bright red. I turned to talk to him but he raised his hand to silence me.

"I know what this is about. I've known this day would come. I just knew."

My heart started pounding. He knew? He's actually thought about me? After all these years....

It was his turn now to face the ocean and I left him to his thoughts as they drifted slowly from sand to clouds, to waves.

"It's was not your fault, " he choked.

I looked at this man, so beaten, so grief stricken, and wanted so much to simply reach out. To hold him and say, it's okay, it's all okay, but I didn't. I knew, instinctively, any sign of sympathy would strangle the words I so longed to hear.

"Did I do something wrong? Did I....."

His head shook away my words and for the first time ever, he looked me in the eye. "It's my fault. All of it. It had nothing to do with you."

I watched his words trail out to sea before calling them back and placing them deep in my heart. It had nothing to do with me? Ah yes, but that's where everyone is so wrong. It had everything to do with me.

As we headed across the busy road towards home, I cradled those thoughts in my arms not able to absorb anything new - not even the traffic. It was his arm I felt next. Big and strong and, as it turned out, life-saving. We looked at each other in that moment like never before and I smiled as he slipped his hand into mine.

That was the night I walked home with my Dad.

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