A SIGN FOR THE TIME -
BSC, CA – I was all set to write my Fathers Day comments about the small group of mementos that I have as remembrances of my three sons and the kids I consider my blended fam. It wasn't a self-pity piece but I do lament the lack of time spent around them. But just when you cry about not having shoes, someone comes along with no feet. My phone rang and a dear old friend, read brother, called to say his daughter had died of a drug overdose.
As I sat there getting the circumstances leading up to the tragedy and the back story, I pushed the sadness back as best I could. I have known this person since she was a baby. An acquired opiate use had morphed into a heroin habit, a story told many times in today's news stories. Unlike the young woman in the story, Hillbilly Heroin, this wasn't a party foul. My friend's daughter had started a methadone program.
However, a recent stint in county for two weeks had pushed her into the clean category. Getting out and returning home, she told her boyfriend that she had an errand to run. He said 'fine' as he was going to bed to sleep for his third shift job. When he got up at 11 pm, he found her, a victim of some additive used in today's China white.
My friend had called me a couple of days later with the sad news. After that I wasn't worth a shit between bouts of sadness. The next day, Wednesday, I figured out what I needed to do, which was get two condolence cards as the girl's parents are divorced and I know them both. Thursday morning I sat out front hidden behind the tall sunflower stalks and other yard foliage, watching the hummingbirds go through their feeding antics, talking to them as I searched for the right words to write in each card. I also recalled various moments past through wet eyes. The birds seemed to sense my state and weren't their usual noisy chattering selves though there were many more than usual feeding.
Friday I had a plan to give my cards to the neighborhood mailman who comes by daily. I know his schedule and knew what I had to do, which was find addresses for both cards, find the stamps I purchased with my cards, and get them ready before the mailman came around. I would sit in the drive and wait for him, once ready.
Though there were some anxious moments as I searched for this or that, I got the cards all done and set them on top of the house mailbox. Not seeing any movement through the bush shrubbery and a little peckish, I dashed back inside and super-waved a slice of pizza. Returning a few minutes later to the front porch, I saw the two cards were gone. I looked around to make sure the wind hadn't blown them off accidentally, but no, they were gone, picked up. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I noticed something. I must have left the porch gate unlatched which may have helped the mailman reach the mailbox [?].
Returning inside the house and back to my room, I was surprised to find a young green vine sprig placed on my bed sheet just below my pillow but before the covers started. I immediately thought of my departed friend and could feel her say, “I'm sorry, Dad.” My eyes filled up again but I wasn't sad this time. It was more a feeling of missing someone I wasn't going to see for a while.
The opening picture and the same pic below show the young green vine, which is laid upon my beanie for better contrast. The vine is now inside my Gideon Bible at Psalms 104:14.
This story also goes out to every father who has buried a child. R.I.P.