Tears are Salty, 4 or 5-years-old
Tears are Salty, 4 or 5-years-old
I don’t remember why I was crying but it was probably over something stupid. I was young, probably 4 or 5. It’s one of the only times I can remember my father consoling me. It was just me and him, I remember being close, he was shielding me from whatever it was, maybe something happening in a sports game. Maybe it was when I cried after watching The Sandlot or Mrs. Doubtfire for whatever reason, something I definitely did because I’ve just always got sad seeing good friends and families reunite at the end of movies. He was using his hand to wipe the tears from my eyes and cheeks, they were running down my nose and into my mouth.

“Tears are salty,” he said, or something like that. It distracted me enough from whatever was making me cry to actually stop and think about the taste of tears.

When he had his first bout of clinical depression (that I was alive for), he wouldn’t leave the bed except to go to the bathroom (foreshadowing). My mother would be getting ready to drop Dan and I off at elementary school, and encourage us to go upstairs and say goodbye to him, probably hoping that it would get him to snap out of it (it didn’t). We didn’t know what was going on, we just thought he was sleeping late. Ran to his bedside and got down to his eye level, he didn’t open his eyes. We’d start playing with his face, wrinkling his forehead, pulling his eyelids apart. He didn’t smile or wake up, I don’t remember him ever acknowledging us when we did that.

Tonight as my mother, my brother and I were leaving the hospice facility I stood over him again. His mouth was open, looked like he always did when he was sleeping. I touched his forehead, gently wrinkling it with my thumb. Left his eyes alone.

All three of us agreed we didn’t want to be there when they arrived to collect and zip him up. Just after the three of us made it out of the room, where he’d just died an hour or so before, I ran back to it. Mom and Dan had had their moments with him, and I’d told myself I didn’t need that, but thinking about everything else that I’d skipped, or missed, or avoided these last few years I felt like I owed him. Or I owed myself, and he was being cremated, so this was the last look at his vessel, or whatever I’d called it to calm down my mother and brother.

I cursed him. I said I loved him. Touched his hair for a few moments, thanking him for passing that down to me. When I started to cry again I took the tears and wiped them on his cheek and said, “See? Salty,” then left the room.

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