How Does Your Garden Grow?
My life began with a funeral. They say that with each birth there is a death, the sick circle of life that wraps around your neck like the umbilical cord that sent my mother and I into the room of white lights and plastics hands. They set my free, uncoiling me and laying me squalling in a cold and sterile world. My mother, ripped at the seams, was also set free. As her blood pooled red around the table, her soul fled from her body like a captive bird.
He never forgave me, not really. He would never say it but I saw the shadow of disappointment in his eyes, that I was the one that lived. I shaped my life to please him. I read all the books on his nightstand and made him his morning coffee and learned the guitar so that I could strum his favorite song in the soft light of dusk. But he would just half smile and recline himself in the leather chair my mother gave him for the father's day before I was born. It was tattered , stitches coming undone and stuffing puffing out. I spent a summer day sewing it up and tucking it together hoping that he could come and say the words that I longed to hear.
He came through the door like a quiet wind and never said a word. He sat on the couch that night and the next day the chair was gone, tucked away in the corner of his room like a secret. I think that was when I stopped trying and when the time came to pack up my mother's pearls and the quilt my grandmother made and move into a life of my own I didn't look back.
Sitting on the front porch of the house where I grew I look at the weeds and the wilds my father hasn't bothered to cut away. He has let them grow without touching or making a change. He came to my law school graduation and didn't say a word as I crossed the stage. He didn't even tell me he was coming, but I saw him among the field of faces, clean shaven and eyes brimming with the words he'll never say. Sitting on the front porch of this house I think about a different life and the way it could have led, fresh pies on the windowsills and honey suckle dreams. From the window I can see him rocking back and forth on the chair that my fingers remade. He smiles at me and stands, meeting me half way.
"I'm proud of you," he says his voice caught in tears like a lamb in brambles.
I touch his arm and say nothing. We were never meant for words.