today

Today, this day, 10 years ago she watched her father die in a cold hospital room during a Nebraska winter. 

Today, this day, she decided to go to the beach.  

This woman, while resting in an umbrella of warmth, heard a man shuffle by; wearing a blue shirt, his profile reminded her of her father.

The one that could grow a red beard and whose eyes got greener when he was mad.  The one whose laugh could wake the dead and the one who hid his sadness with a mask.  Until that day – she got the call that he wanted to end it all.  One week he would stay at a different hospital, decades before his unluckiness would take him.  Decades before the cancer devoured his laugh and made him blow up like a fish.  Decades before she felt his last breath.  

The man she saw today was shorter than her father, but they shared the same hair color and smile.  She was sure his eyes were green and that they sparkled like sand beneath her feet.  She would close her eyes and try to recall the ghostly memories of her father.  The way he shifted his weight while talking on the telephone.  Right foot, left foot, with a sort of rocking motion.  The way he sprayed a cloud of Aqua Net on his hair every morning.  And the way he never seemed to dry off his hands after washing them; he just shook them in the air while her socks soaked up the water. 

Between reading, trying to remember, and wave gazing; she spent a great deal of time watching one particular seagull.  The fat one with a long neck who bellowed for the others to stay away.  The one who looked irritated at the smaller, scurrying birds that busily ran after their shadows.  The one who approached her expectantly as she ate her honey mustard pretzels and then was chased by a little girl who reminded her of her daughters.  The one with the peach and blue bathing suit.  The one with the ponytail that looked like one long curl down her back.  The little one with all the power to chase the seagull around and make him soar away.  

This woman longed to borrow the little girl’s happiness, borrow her smile, borrow her power to make the seagull ascend.  Especially today, this day, when 10 years ago she was forced to say goodbye to her father.