Gazing from my window, my sight is taken by the gnarled oak amongst the treeline. Set about twenty paces from the forest, it glares at me.
Cold runs through my shoulders as I ache and lean forward. Head shaking, I chuckle under my breath and rise from my seat.
I slip on dusty flip-flops, for I haven’t ventured out into the yard in a while. Opening the scarred front door, I gingerly step beyond the threshold towards your resting place. Again.
My heels slap against my foam soles as I narrowly avoid twisting my ankles in ruts in the soil. It’s fitting, like a natural metaphor for my soul. Eroded and imperfect but still sustainable.
Even pacing myself, I reach Your tree far too quickly. My breath quickens and my eyes darting left and right catch a glimpse. A glimpse of you, piercing me with your judgement.
I failed again. Just like the last time. My eyes linger upon the canopy of the oak, the great leafy crown it has become. I still feel your ghostly visage on the outer reaches of my vision.
My gaze lowers and I catch sight of your skull within the roots. My skull, because you are me. You’re the reason I took to this cabin, the reason I’ve followed this path in this lifetime.
I failed because I found him. I found him where you, you missed out. This is why you judge me. I found him and because of apprehension and fear, I hurt him. I failed because I watched his eyes go dark where you, you never even saw them during your turn with our energy.
The last time, you found him too late, already upon the lining of your coffin as he paid his respects and let fall one solitary tear, because he never knew you. He was passing by the old Catholic monstrosity and had a feeling.
An urge, the single strongest need he’d ever felt, to enter this place. To gaze upon your face, upon my face, the face I wear now. I failed because I almost ruined my chance to love him longer, because you never had the chance to love him at all.
But I won’t fail because I have time. I’m not dying tomorrow, and well…if I am, at least I got to love him for as long as physically possible. Because we’ve all loved him, every single version of us.
And in some way, we all failed somehow. But most of us were gifted the opportunity to continue loving him for as long as we could, many until our final breaths.
I’m going to be the best version of us yet. I’m going to fix the broken pieces we have, I’m going to oil our hinges and clean out the cobwebs. We’re going to be vulnerable and flexible and open. And honest.
I’m going to love him the longest because I know now how much he is worth and even with horrible cataracts I’d never be blinded to his worth, to his warmth, to his heart.
I’m going to fix us. I’m going to cut down this oak, because I’m done being reminded of the times we’ve failed, I’m tired of staring at your gravesite, our gravesite and longing for the lives we lived prior.
I’m going to love us the longest. We deserve to be whole. We deserve to live the right way, this time. I failed before. I failed when I watched the air seep from his lungs.
But I’m not finished improving upon what I’m building. I’m not giving up and I’m strong enough to fix us. To fix me. To be better, to do better. I’m not going to fail again, I’m going to finally succeed.