Beloved Do Us Part

by Timothy Gager

The day my father crashed through the windshield was the day which changed everything. That happened when I was driving him to his funeral. Life is confusing enough without dissecting that statement.

It was windy springtime when the porcelain struck the pavement, shattering, the ashes blowing across Route 3, ending up in the cattails. If some stayed on the highway I couldn’t tell where the ashes began and the liter soaking up the oil ended.

She was late going to the church. She hadn’t noticed passing me, or my car while engulfed in a parade of constrained traffic, which felt more like the participants waiting at the starting point for the parade to begin. Either way she hadn’t noticed the scene. She hadn’t paid attention to me much when I was preoccupied recently either. She was attending only because of my father. We were both pretty sick in different ways she said, the day I told her he had left his body.

I was a bit banged up, but I wasn’t as bad as dad. He suffered. Even after death the entirety of his being was scattered. This was pretty metaphoric if it weren’t so shitty. For a guy that retained everything he didn’t remember much this year, his thoughts becoming the brown leaves gusting uncaught in early winter. Occasionally he remembered it being winter, but he couldn’t recall fall even if he’d spend the entire last autumn with a rake in his hand.

I missed the service, arriving at the Moratorium empty handed. Everyone was milling around waiting, and the stone wall where the urn was to be placed was open like a welcoming door where you could enter a friend’s house without knocking. People comfortable with each other would do that.

I remember the days in our courtship when she left the wood door wide open and all I had to do was open the screen. Today I had nothing to offer.

I couldn’t even explain what happened in any way which made sense. Seatbelts don’t hold urns and arms cannot wrap a heart up into a hug…as she was there, and people were there, and no one knew what to do or say, but all our hearts were all still beating. Someone should say something so I whispered that to Father David, and he started honoring my father immediately, without a skip, as if he had all the words memorized. Then he shut the door, empty as if he never existed, all that was left was the name and date. I stood there until everyone had left for the lunch and it was just she and I.

Touching the inscription, she traced his name without looking at anything but the placard, “I think I’m going to stay down on the Cape for a while.” It was as if her door was locked, and the locks changed. The outdoors was lonely, and I was alone with the gusts which blew the thin, barren, branches up and down.