For some reason you’d think that a guy who was a carpenter would have better rows of benches in the place where you come to listen to life lessons. I’ll admit my head was a little lower than it should have been, it took some convincing to get me here in the first place. God and I haven’t been on the best of terms lately and my own self-doubt wouldn’t allow me to look towards the alter. So while contemplating my moral compass, or staring at my shoes, not sure which this gentle brushing went against my back. This is church, people are always bumping into one another as they try to sit down so I didn’t think much of it, let alone react. But again with the gentle moving of my shoulder, so I turn around to see if some kid is goofing off.
It wasn’t the case, the young women was trying to get my attention. But not for herself, the person behind her. I’m still learning how to piece together words from my mouth, writing isn’t an issue, but speaking leads to all sorts of confusion. My mouth moves much slower than my mind wants it to. “Hi” is my best effort with a tiny wave. Again we’re in church not some restaurant. I hasn’t see her in years and the look on her face was more panic and upset than I would have liked. I know what I outwardly present to the world, it can be confusing to people.
After everything was said and done I remained in my seat, I was just too tired to get moving again. These pews really stink! So I wasn’t all that shocked to see her slide in next to me. “Why didn’t you let anyone know you are around? And what can we do to help?”
Those words, “What can we do to help?” I don’t to this day know how to answer them.
“Lary, I heard about your daughter and didn’t know what to say or even if you wanted to hear from people about it. It seemed like it had been talked about in hushed tones so I let it go. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. And just by looking at you I know you’re sick, again.”
This is one of the reasons I don’t know how to deal with people. My brain instantly went into a protection mode, mostly for someone else but a little bit for me.
“This explains why my sister got that stupid jean jacket! You kept it all this time.” Some people were given some things from my house, or they were given them by the trustee I established, I didn’t want to wait until some other point in my life.
“There are so many rumors floating around about you that you’ve become an urban legend. I see you’re here with Kathy, but are you living in the area or just visiting?”
I tried my best to explain that I didn’t feel comfortable in my house anymore, the silence was killing me as fast as any other thing in my life. It took time, my words leaving slowly and not fully. By now her husband had joined us and he was everything I would have expected her to find. A good guy from what I could tell. He sat and listened.
The things about my house that made it a home where my family. When that left, it wasn’t a home anymore, just a collection of rooms that I didn’t go into anymore. Sleeping in the living room on a couch wasn’t really living, it was just existing. I let her know that while I was getting medical help I had run away from home and was staying with Kathy for as long as I possibly could.
That made sense to her knowing that every finals time during college, that’s where I ended up. Holed up in the basement, books made into a fortress around me, trying to make everyone proud of me.
“I know you aren’t going, but everyone in town is getting together next weekend. Maybe the bar scene isn’t what you need, but maybe I could tell someone that you’re around?”
The doors to my home have always been open to anyone who needed a place to be. When my brother got rid of his house and needed a place to crash while he looked for another, I opened the door. Another thing that my ex’s mother judged me for since she wasn’t asked her opinion. I’ve slept on the couch many times when the house is filled to overflowing from 15 relatives descending. Giving up my bed for a night or two was nothing! It took my brother 18 months to find the right place for him and my nephew, it was hard at times but he’s family and there never should have been a question about that!
I told my friend that I hadn’t been back to Maryland in some time and was considering just selling the place. The ghost have made themselves a home for themselves and I didn’t have it in me to evict them. By now Kathy has joined us and is helping me with the rest of my story. Her filling in the gaps my brain doesn’t realize it is leaving.
Her hug to say goodbye was tight, her husbands grip firm, knowing that it can be tough at times to care for a family. Kathy just helped me back to the car and we drove home in silence.
‘Kathy, you’ve made a home for me when I didn’t know how to make one for myself. Thank you.’ I hate seeing her cry, just my presence sometimes can bring that out in her.
The home I bought is filled with pain. It might have pictures and mementos of people and places, but it’s just a collection of wood and metal. The most important parts are gone and I can’t replace them. There is no point in trying, to me there is a loss of honor in even discussing it. The laughter, the tears, even their silliness rings in every corner. Echoes in a canyon I can’t forget. But the silence is what drowns it all out.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Home Turf.”