Aberdeen

My father always used to say, “In love, one and one are one.” And when I would ask him what that meant he would simply answer, “Someday you will know.” I haven’t heard those words in some time.

Today that saying plays in my head over and over again as I walk along the icy shores of the North Sea. A light rain patters off my forehead but I am numb to it, wrecked inside by the impending void that crashes in with each salty wave. I keep thinking of my father when he was healthy, how just being near him made me whole, and how just hearing him laugh covered my body like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day.

I can’t bear to take myself inside again. He is getting worse with every minute that passes. I can’t summon any more tears of sorrow or any more words of comfort. I hear my mother call me from afar; her voice is raspy and broken. I look up as the rain begins to fall on me with all its force.

Running to the house, I envision him standing on the deck waiting for me, his arms stretched open and a huge smile on his face. He’ll take me in his grasp and tell me how much he misses me. He’ll tell me stories about my childhood and how one day, before I was born, he met this beautiful young girl who would one day be his wife. He would say, “In love, one and one are one.”

Throwing my drenched coat on the vacant deck, I burst through the door as my mind races frantically. Somewhere, I can smell french toast and fresh strawberries. How I wish it were so. How I wish I was still five years old, on our yearly trip to the beach house in Aberdeen, without a care in the world.

Turning the corner, I am struck by the harsh reality that is my dead father. I can tell from the paleness of his skin that he has passed. His mouth is slightly open and I wonder if he gasped for his final breath of air. Falling to the ground in front of him, I begin to sob uncontrollably. “I’m so sorry, Daddy,” I mutter, feeling warm from the blood rushing through my veins. I grab his tepid hand and curl up in a ball next to it and rock back and forth.

Eventually, my mother pulls me away and takes me upstairs to my room. She holds me tightly in her arms and I try to imagine that I am still her little girl and that when I awake my daddy will be standing there in his swimming trunks, a colorful beach towel thrown over his shoulder and a spark of excitement in his eyes.

I will jump out of bed and chase him down the stairs. He will lead me outside into the serene meadow and there we will laugh and laugh and laugh. And afterwards, we will have french toast, and swim in the sea, and he will live for another sixty years.

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