There You Are

I am driving my truck. The windows are rolled down. And, I am on my way to you. I am taking the narrow country roads a bit too fast. But, they are too much fun. I pull into your gravel driveway. Race to your trailer and rap my knuckles on the screen door. You’re not answering. That’s all right. I know you like to stay up late to read. So, I wait.

And, when the door finally opens, I say “There you are!” with a smile.

“Shawnie!” you exclaim.

You touch your chin. You touch your cheek. You pat your hair.

“I’m not even made up” you say.

“I don’t care Grandma.”

I give you a kiss. You go back inside. And, I get to work on your yard.

It’s hot. So, you bring out some iced-tea. It’s extra sweet. We sit on your porch and stare at those Kentucky hills. The cicadas are calling. The wildflowers are blooming. And, I turn to you and I swear that I will live here forever.

But, I ended up leaving. Just being me was not enough.I had something to prove. I felt small. I felt insignificant. I wanted to feel worthy. I wanted to prove that my existence was worth the effort. The boy who took those beatings wanted to prove everyone wrong. So, I left. And, when I left, I promised that I would come back. But, the distance gave me perspective. The time away gave me clarity. I was in pain. I was broken. I had to heal. And, the only way I knew how to heal was to stay away.

I had to find that kid I was before the world got a hold of him. I did. I am. And, just when I felt ready to come home, you decided that it was time to go.

So, I am in my truck. The windows are rolled down. And, I am on my way to you. I am taking the roads a bit too fast. But, I do not know if there is enough time. I pull into Highland Springs. Race to your side and tell you that I am here. You’re not answering. That’s all right. I know you’re doing what you need to do before you go. So, I wait.

And, when your eyes finally open, I lean in close. You blink. And, my thoughts begin to stream.

I do not know what to do. I have never had to do this before. I am not sure what to say. Should I say anything? Should I speak softly or loudly? I do not know what to do.

You blink.

Who is gathering around you? Is there someone there to welcome you? Are you afraid? What do you need? What can I do?

You blink.

I am sorry I left you. Was I supposed to stay? Or, was it my job to go? Did you need me? Where did are responsibilities to each other begin and end? 

You blink.

Do you know how important you are to me? You never scolded me. You never hit me. You never said a cruel thing to me. You were my safe haven.

You blink.

Do you remember that time when you were helping me with my homework? I had to write “as” fifty times. I spelled it wrong.  I wrote “ass” over and over again. You laughed all the way to the back door to grab another Red, White and Blue that was cooling on the back porch.

You blink.

Can I do this without you? Who do I turn to for unconditional love? What happens if I lose my way? Who will protect me?

You blink.

I know I have not earned it. I have been away for so long. But, can you say “Shawnie” one more time? I want to hear you say “Is that my boy?” I want to hear you say “My boy is a college professor” so proudly like you do.

You blink.

I know it’s not the end for us. I know that we are connected forever. I know you forgive me. I know you were never mad at me. You did your job. You protected the little boy inside of me. I still have him. Nowadays, I am building off of him.  And, I will do my job. I will let you go.

You touch your chin. You touch your cheek. You pat your hair.

There you are.

I give you a kiss. You go back inside. And, I get to work on learning how to live without you.

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