Her Father’s Daughter: A Short Story in progress
She walks in his well-worn shoes and is not conscience of the great parallels of their lives.
In her mind he is a myth: brilliant, perfect and strong; a memory that she clings on to each day for survival.
In her world his flaws, obvious but always forgiven, are overlooked because his love for her overshadowed them by far.
Too proud that she carries many of his traits, it is of surprise when she realizes that his darkness so closely resembles her own.
Her father died far too young with a simple few years of true freedom, if that at all.
Expectations. Did she fulfill his and did he live up to his own?
Did he ever resolve his sense of obligation? Would she?
On a cold January afternoon she sits perfectly still as the ferry bounces up and down along the choppy Hudson River.
Once again her mind filled with unanswered questions.
This session left her questioning her mortality; the quality of the shrinking years of her life.
Hearing the reality: “you’ve probably got thirty years left – twenty where you can do anything you want” left her breathless.
What was she waiting for, her father lived within the same self-imposed confines but managed to find sorted joy. How?
Where was her joy?!
Her love of dogs, now a source of pain and loss, compartmentalized. “I can’t – not until – what if“.
Each and every day missing the unconditional love in her world of piercing emptiness; it would never be “the right time“.
Staring out at the fog as ferry ride turned Manhattan into a fading illusion, she screamed.
Before she lay her head on the pillow that night, she had adopted fraternal twin basset hounds.
Heart bursting with excitement, the boys would arrive by the end of the month. Is this joy?
The ridiculous happiness that she believed could never be replicated, the warm smell of ears and paws, it was going to happen again!
A life filled with guilt, self-loathing and almost void of the flutter of love; how did this happen?
Childhood memories of her “perfect” father’s face when he thought no one was looking was now a mirror of her own self-sacrifice.
He adored her dogs almost as much as she did; they gave her comfort every moment of each day before and especially after he passed.
Waiting was not an option. She looked down at her feet and his shoes – it must be time to stop punishing herself for unknown crimes.
Just as he adjusted by the decade in order to survive, it occurred to her that she could walk barefoot in the grass. No shoes – his or mine.
The romping of two excited hounds and a barefoot girl, imagine: no guilt.
“Be Happy“: Her father’s mantra repeated time and again since she was a child. Because there was no example she invented masks to fulfill his edict.
Hearing his words, she had an overwhelming secret guilt in any happiness that was exclusively hers.
“Get Rid of the Guilt!“, her doctor had said week after month and year. His words filled the quiet office, he spoke in a language foreign to his patient.
Days later, despite commentary, lack of help or mutual excitement; she knew it was right. She was due.
These sweet dogs would help her untie the first notch of the self-imposed noose. The noose; a painful and cumbersome necklace she’d worn for almost as long as she could recall.
Yes, slightly loosened: Small Step One.
Step One: The Boys!