I imagine I can hear his voice. Saying my name. He sits in a chair, in the corner of the room, wearing a faint smile. Waiting for my hug.

Been so long since I’ve seen you, Dad.

I know.

I’ve missed you—the words choke in my throat, won’t come out.

He nods and smiles. Me too.

You never got to see your grandson, never got to see me graduate from high school. You never got old. Your hair never turned gray.

He stands, horn-rimmed glasses probably not necessary anymore, but he wears them just the same. His hair is cut in the same crew cut, and it’s still as black as the last time . . . the last time I saw him.

Laying flat on his back, inside that wooden box. He was supposed to breathe, wasn’t supposed to lay so still. I couldn’t cry until I saw him, trapped forever inside that wooden prison. And then, I finally realized that I would never see him again.


Wouldn’t hear his voice on the phone, wouldn’t sit beside him in the car. Wouldn’t kiss his stubbled cheek. Wouldn’t be able to tell him how much I love him. Always did. Always will . . . always and forever will.

Then I couldn’t stop crying. Couldn’t catch my breath. Whoever stole your breath, Dad, well, they took mine too.

Surrounded by all those people who loved you, I turned into a complete mess.

At 16 . . .

At 16 . . . I melted when you left.

Sometimes I imagine that you are here, that I can hear you and you can hear me. But I can only hold you in my mind for a few moments. Then I have to let you go.

Because it hurt too much that first time you left.

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