Today, I saw my father buried.
Yesterday, it was the woman I gave my heart to twelve years earlier on a sunlit day amidst a vale of fragrant springtime flowers. The only person in my life I was capable of experiencing a full and rich life with, who made me better at living and dreaming.
As my father’s pine coffin descended into the cracked and leaden-colored ground under a dome of indifferent grey, brilliant flashes of clarity, exploding memories, reverberations of forgotten time, reminded me of how much I ached for her.
Guilt wrecked me, exposing my hypocrisy as the only son.
Yet still I desired her hand in mine, those delicate and slender fingers pressing rhythmically against the outside of my own hand, each vibrant pulse reassuring me that the void birthed by loss doesn’t last. That calming softness emanating from cerulean eyes, a loving smile that never straightened, and the tilt of her head as it rested on my shoulder, were all anchors that I sought to retain in the moment.
But there was no hand, no gaze, and no tilt of a head. Only the cold empty air of November.
Brian Cravens is a full-time professor of government at a small community college in Texas.