I drifted around the office, tracing my fingers over the smooth finish of the built-in bookshelves, glanced at all of the framed photos as I passed.  My dad was so sentimental.  He took pictures of everything.  It used to irritate me to no end.  “Dad, quit,” I scolded him, obscuring his view with my extended hand.  I hated having my picture taken, but he insisted that I would appreciate the memories later.  I should have let him have his way more often, without complaint.  One more thing to add to my growing list of regrets.

His desk was cluttered as always.  Stacks of papers and folders littered the dark wood surface.

I sat in his soft leather chair, spinning myself in slow circles with my head back and eyes closed.  I let the image of the last time we were in this room together seep in to my consciousness.

I recalled him picking up a framed photo from his wedding day as he leaned back in his chair.

My mom was stunning in a wispy, fairy-tale of a dress her brown tresses elegantly pinned at the nape of her long, graceful neck, adorned by tiny flowers.  Dad wore his dress blues, decorated with polished medals that scintillate in the light.  It was all very Cinderella-esque, minus the happily-ever-after, of course.

I remembered watching him as he wandered away with his thoughts.  He never really got over my mom.  Sometimes, late at night, I would hear him talking to her, or at least I imagined it was her.  Their talks always started the same way.  “I can’t see you, but I know you’re there.”  I left when I heard those words.  I felt intrusive listening any longer.

My dad never got to say good-bye to her.  I worried that he was waiting for a ghost to return.  He never dated after she died.  He wore that beat up, old wedding ring until the end.  Now, I wondered where it was.  His ring and dog tags never made it back with his other personal belongings.  Pillaged by some soul-less thief was my best guess.  Someone who didn’t care that his family would be heart-sick to lose such priceless mementos.

From the pocket of my sweat pants, I pulled out the letter my dad wrote me, and read it again for the millionth time.  Holes were already worn in the creases of the linen parchment where it had been unfolded and refolded.  I could have recited it by heart, but wanted to feel the softness of the paper and trace the curves of his letters.



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