I walked with Grandpa across the sleeping meadow towards the river. Night had not yet separated into sky, earth, forest, and beings. The tramping of our feet through the dew-soaked grass stirred up a doe. Her white tail flickered and then disappeared into the darkness. I held my fishing pole with both hands as I followed the glow from Grandpa’s cigarette. It bobbed through the air like a plump, drowsy firefly. It was always best to fish before dawn, when the fish were least expecting it. That’s what Grandpa always told me.
Grandpa paused, took a drag off his cigarette, and looked up at the indigo sky. “Those twinkling pinpricks in the heavens are nothing more than gateways, you know,” he said. “Someday I’ll be on the other side winking back at you. Letting you know I got my eye on you.” He rested his hand on my head for a long moment and sighed. “Don’t ever think you’re alone, Daisy.”
I wore a white dress to his funeral. A lone beacon amid a wailing field of black. Adolescence had sprung on me, leaving me sullen and bewildered in the face of such grief. I had been by Grandpa’s side when he died, along with an entourage of tearful relatives. I was the only one who had noticed when he tried to speak from the depths of his coma, so intent were the others on their own sorrow. His lips trembled. His face was taut with anguish. He didn’t want to leave when so many depended on him. I laid my hand on his and squeezed. He closed his eyes and drifted away.
Somehow he got trapped in between realms, anchored by despair at the things from which he could not spare the living. Walking alone across the meadow, I think back on my turbulent life. No descendents will ever follow my beaten down path. I stare up at the vacant night sky; trace apologies in the air with my cigarette. I have always been responsible for myself, Grandpa. Let me lead you to that elusive portal, over the threshold, into the silent immensity.
* * *
This piece is what I call a “dreamemoir”. It was written after my grandfather had visited me in a dream. Some of the piece is true – I wore white to the funeral, and he tried to speak before he left. Other things are just invention – I don’t smoke, for example, and, although I know he’s still watching over his large family, he’d never use such words.