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Running Towards the River

(You can listen to this piece is S2E32 of the podcast)

The solemnity of the moment caught Caress by surprise like the hiccups. Jerking her body from the insides. Uncontrollable was this silence she felt. This sorrow she felt. She’d taken the forest path this morning. Running with a half-focused mind. The other half was set on the implosion of her make-believe happy ending. Because in her fairytale life when everyone lived happily ever after, her father was not dead.

Done with this five-mile run—a record for her—Caress leaned over the railing of a bridge in her hometown over a lazy river contemplating death. Her father, a man so funny he put sitcoms to shame. A man so thoughtful, he’d coach philosophers on new theories. A man so joy-filled, he could have opened a rival theme park to Disney. But he was gone now. Simply no longer existed in the world where others persisted in their strivings for a good life. Caress had lived that good life with her father who’d raised her solo in a world where mommies like hers walked off to live life unencumbered. He’d got her through riding a bike without training wheels to puberty and first dates. He’d gotten her through college course selection and graduation and job interviews. But she thought they had decades left. Thought she had more milestones to reach with him cheering her on.

Caress’s breath returned to normal as she stretched her limbs out against the bridge’s railing and peered down at this tranquil river. She completed her quad stretches and her hamstring stretches. She tugged on her elbows to stretch her arms. Death, it seemed, would be as ever-present as this river in her hometown. It would wind through her placid at the surface but rushing underneath. To lose her father, to never know her mother, to have no sister or brother was the loneliest place on earth, she thought.

A rustle in the rushes followed by a beautiful white heron stepping into view along a quiet spot along the river’s edge arrested her attention. It lowered its head. To drink, she supposed. Then she saw several fish. Flies buzzed. And now a butterfly flapped its daisy yellow wings right past her left cheek.

And so it was. This sorrow of hers would flow. But maybe life was still possible. Even in the mire of death.


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