As I breeze through the front doors of my spacious family home, I feel especially giddy. The early afternoon sunlight floods through our open windows as the melodies of song birds packed into the pine trees lining our yard echo through the house. It is a beautiful spring day, which only fuels my after-school high because the warmer weather signifies that summer vacation is right around the corner. Now that I can officially drive, this will be my first summer with complete freedom... well, as free as a 16 year old girl with a protective father can be.
As I prance into the living room, I stop dead in my tracks as an alarming sight unfolds before me. My father, usually proud and strong in stature, is kneeling on the floor, hunched over and looking defeated with his hand bracing himself next to our answering machine. My world becomes airy as I breathlessly mutter, "What's wrong?" My dad's bloodshot eyes slowly flicker up to me, then just as quickly back to the ground as if he is ashamed to be seen in such a state. "Your grandfather..." he hesitates as he catches his breath, "died suddenly this afternoon." His hands rush to cover his face as his composure breaks down into gasps and sobs. "What?" I barely recognize the whimper escaping my mouth.
All of a sudden the chirping birds seem so loud, almost suffocating in their intensity, like the whole world is closing in on us. My dad seems worlds away as his words continue hit me like shrapnel. My heart thumps loud and hard in protest as tears line the brim of my eyes. I stand in the doorway unmoving, alarmed and unsteady as the spring day continues on around us, insensitive, unfailing, despite this moment unfolding so suddenly inside our living room.
Overwhelmed, I collapse next to my father and wrap myself around him. We huddle together in the corner of the room and mourn this unexpected loss of a great man in our lives. We don't move from this spot for a while, not wanting to accept what comes next--as if the world doesn't really have to continue on in its current reality and we can just pretend like this never happened. We stare at each other for a moment but we do not speak. There is only silence and songbirds.