If we could remember
The moment of our birth
We'd give our voice to songs and whispers
And know what life is worth
“Pat…please, come to bed.”
Aggie called from the hallway. It was a nightly ritual that had gained a place in the family that no one could deny but that everyone desperately wished would change. She waited a few moments before reluctantly turning off the hall light before returning to bed. He looked at the plaque on the desk; sad regrets for something so generous and kind?
"To Pastor Pat. You're like a father to us. Thank You. The Youth Group of Haven Fellowship"
He turned the plaque down on the desk and frowned. Angry questions filled his thoughts until he felt a presence.
“Still at it, Dad?”
The girl placed her hand on her father’s shoulder and leaned into give him a tender kiss on the cheek. He turned to see her warm smile; a smile accompanied by eyes that forgave every bit of hurt and disappointment while trying without success to instill hope and acceptance. He half-smiled and blinked back tears.
“Come on, Dad! You can only hold onto this for so long before it will kill you. You’ve got to let it go, okay?”
Her eyes pled with him to gain some hope from the smile she displayed. Anyone would have guessed wisely that this girl was perhaps the most understanding, caring person they might have met. Pat shook his head and looked at the picture…rather, the pictures in the nice wood frame that sat by the laptop on the desk.
Suddenly there is beauty
In peace there s all the past
And sorrow clings to angry questions
The days of dust at last
“Dad? He understands. He does.”
The girl’s words could have easily been mistaken for a pithy saying about God and love and forgiveness, but she was trying to help her father apprehend the truth that we all find. Life is for the living, and the way to honor the departed is to live… fully and with compassion as we move forward; perhaps even instilling that life we so sadly lost in our need to exist?
“He’s okay, Dad. Really. You know that.”
And of course the same heart that once beat with great joy would affirm Pat in that regard; if he could talk he would have told his father that he was in a better place in so many ways, even if the route he took was circuitous and painful. Pat shook his head no and turned his attention to the photos in the frame. Two children; near twins in a way. Patrick David Nilsson, Jr. The heir to all things spiritual and wise, he would have stepped into the role of ministry and teaching had he displayed any interest. His sister sat beside him in a way; her picture side by side almost as a stark tragic contrast between what should have been with what came to pass and was lost.
And morning holds us
When worlds come down and down
A dance of ghosts and ragged dreams
Spinning round, spinning round, spinning round
I remember, remember
“Dad? It’s okay, but you have to let go. I know he did, and I have too.” The voice was soothing and even sweet; girls have that effect on their fathers even if they aren’t aware. She kissed him on the top of the head.
“Honey? Pat? Please?”
He turned to look over his shoulder. Aggie stood in the doorway of the office; her face a mask of mixed emotions... angry for the foolish loss the family had sustained but also hopefully happy in the midst of sadness. They had their lives ahead of them even if they were lives filled with grief. She stepped forward and picked up the picture frame.
“She’s okay, you know?”
Aggie took her index finger and pointed to the girl’s picture; the face of someone who lost her life too soon after finally gaining her soul.
“If I had listened to him….I’m so sorry.”
Pat shook his head, wondering desperately if life had places for do overs; mistakes walked back to a point of reason and safety. He looked back and forth between the pictures. The son who disappointed supremely merely for trying to be who he was. And the daughter who was exactly who she was supposed to be only to be wrenched from the family due to the foolish violent arrogance of another and the foolish prideful neglect of a father who couldn’t bear to be wrong.
“She forgave you long ago, Pat. You have to forgive yourself.”
The words, meant to instill reassurance and calm and peace, did the exact opposite; at least for the moment. Pat began to sob freely as hands massaged his shoulders; perhaps kneading and pushing and gently nudging him to a place of understanding and forgiveness. One hand, somewhat pale and a bit weaker but gaining strength; gently assuring her husband that things would one day get better.
And one hand, completely translucent and ethereal, grasped the shoulder and gave her father the touch from eternity that her own creator and his had meant for all of them all along. Patty kissed her father on the cheek once again. She turned to her mother and smiled, but Aggie had long ago beheld her daughter in the one way that mattered…in her heart. She saw with unseeing eyes the love that her only child had displayed all through her life and now in her death, and she nodded with her own smile as the girl gripped her hand.
“Tell him I forgive him, okay?” She spoke softly and Aggie nodded with a tearful smile. And then she faded away. Pat turned and spoke.
“Oh…hon….I’m sorry. I’ll come to bed in a while, okay?”
“No, Pat….you’ll come to bed now.” Aggie helped her husband to his feet. They walked down the hall and back to bed.
“I…I heard her voice today.” Pat said as he laid down, his face to the wall away from his wife. Aggie touched his back with her palm and spoke softly.
“I know, honey….I know.”
She nestled close to her husband and cried softly; tears that slowly healed hurts and gave hope where none deserved to exist. And she remembered.
If we could remember
The power of the light
That cripple prayers are sometimes exert
And hope survives the night, and hope survives the night
I remember, I remember, remember
Transgender Day of Remembrance
November 20, 2012
If We Could Remember
from the Motion Picture
The Sum of All Fears
Words by Paul Willams
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
as performed by
Miss Yolanda Adams