racoonI was standing in my father’s kitchen near the stove. He sat at the table, whiskey clinking ice against clear glass. Playing cards laid out on the surface, waiting for us to engage in the only way we’d found to relate. He was in a good mood, with no memory of wreaking havoc the night before.

It was one of those transcendent moments when life stood still, and I looked down at myself from the ceiling. A shaft of light ran through me from the crown of my head to the arch in my feet. I realized in that moment, that if I were not related, that I would have nothing to do with my father – ever. I saw no commonality or mutual respect, just a faltering sense of reaching out through decades of broken days and barbed wire.

In that waking up moment, I knew that I could never return. If I cared for my well-being at all, I needed to grieve and walk away.

His partner, Sarah, spoke of spring and planting, not a garden, they were too old to maintain a garden, but flowers, something to admire through the window, something to provide beauty and the promise of spring.

I’ll do it, I offered. Let me make a plot near the birdfeeders, so you can watch the robins visit and the flowers bloom at the same time. I went to the store and bought packets of lilies in various shades of splendor. I dug in soil too early to plant, adding fertilizer and good wishes as I placed each bulb in the cold April earth.

Without fully realizing it, I’d planted the flower of death and resurrection. I never intended to go back and didn’t. I placed no flowers on his grave, but left a living monument that day to the last gesture my love could afford.

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