Stories: Who We Have Lost

Dad's Walk

Who did you lose to Covid 19? Alan Trobe

The light from the stove gave off a slight orange glow to the kitchen this morning, and the wall clock made a ticking sound each time the hands moved. Like so many times before I sat there, so familiar, the quiet, the kind of quiet that happens when everyone is at rest. When the day-to-day life is put on hold to take a break from real life.

It was 6:30 and my head was still in the sleep fog. I closed my eyes and waited, listening to the tick, tick, tick of that stupid clock. He was supposed to be tapping on the window by then, to let me know he was there. The tap that happened right before the door handle would turn and the door, fighting the suction of the humidity made a frup sound as it opened. Suddenly the August heat would rush in from outside.

Instead, the only sound I heard was the half sob, half sigh that emanated from the knot in my stomach and the ache in my heart. Dad wasn’t coming. He wouldn’t be sticking his head in the door whispering, so not to wake anyone, “are you ready?” His eyes fresh and a huge smile across his face. He loved those morning walks.

It was time. I had to go, or I’d miss the sunrise. There was a slight breeze off the ocean, and I swear I caught a faint whiff of Dad’s after-shave. The birds were waking up and the stars were twinkling but beginning to fade.

By now I should be trying to keep up with Dad. He had such a smooth, confident gait when he walked. His arms swung at his side in rhythm with his steps, hands relaxed and open. The sunrise would color the sky in beautiful oranges, reds, and pinks making the perfect backdrop for Dad’s silhouette. The wind would brush his thinning hair and the wisps would dance on the breeze. There was a calmness of his spirit here that the sea birds all felt. To them he belonged, and they shared the beach with him without reservation.

But he wasn’t there. I walked where his footprints should have been, in the sand just at the water’s edge. The waves were lapping the shore as the tide came in. The birds were calling as the sun rose, as if to ask, “where’s Al?”. He’s gone. He won’t be tossing seedpods my way, if I get distracted by seashells.

As I finished Dad’s walk, I realized somewhere under that sand are forty years of his steps. His energy and presence left behind. It’s still here, but he is not. Others had arrived at the beach by then, totally oblivious to the fact someone was missing. They didn’t care that he was supposed to be there. My steps were slower heading back to the unit. Tears trickling down my cheeks as I glanced back to the ocean and beach my dad loved. Hoping against hope that he’d be there, ready to walk back with me. For all the times I slept in, or looked for seashells, I’d give anything for a do-over so I could walk with Dad on that beach at sunrise.

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