Back when I was a child
Before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high
And dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around till I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
It was the morning of October third when I got the call that he had died. The nurse told me that he didn’t suffer, nor did they try to revive him - he went quietly in his sleep, just like he wanted. He wasn’t sick, or senile, only old and tired due to his ninety-one years on this earth. For decades I had prepared myself for this moment. I would visit him unannounced just to watch him sleep in bed, even lightly clean around the house when he got too old to do it himself. I would smile at every photo that he had framed of me, all altered to make me look older over the years. He even kept my room exactly how I had left it.
I was alone when I got off the phone with his nurse, Hannah. Edward was out, so I left him a note telling him what happened. I needed to be alone. I had to say goodbye to my daddy.
We lived up in the Yukon, so it took me a few hours to drive to Forks for the service. I stood in the shadow of the trees as I watched the people gather around my father’s grave. The priest was young, but gave a wonderful speech about Charlie’s dedication to the police force, and how he would be missed by the community. I saw a few of the wolf pack members there. Some of them looked older, slightly aged, but a scattered few still looked young and strong. I knew that they knew I was there. Sam looked towards the forest a few times and gave a half hearted smile, as if to tell me that. I knew he understood why I couldn’t be there. I could only hope now that Charlie did, too.
I waited three hours, watching as his casket was lowered into the ground, and shovel by shovel, he was buried in the cool earth. When the dirt was finally leveled in front of his headstone, the workers gathered their equipment and left him to rest in peace. I wasn’t sure if it was normal to feel this way, but I wanted him to have the best of everything: the most expensive casket, the most beautiful headstone, the perfect plot. I made sure to honor the one request he always wanted - to be buried in his uniform. I made sure to leave instructions that every ribbon and medal he was ever honored with was pinned or hung around his neck. If heaven really did exist, then he was going in style.
I slowly made my way towards him, unsure of what I should say. Charlie and I were never much for words, but I didn’t feel right not saying something to him. I reached the headstone, and fell to my knees. I ran my fingers against the engraving, and smiled.
Charles Daniel Swan
March 10 1963 – October 3 2054
Loving father and grandfather
“Hey, Dad.” I smiled. “I bet you’re looking down at me and wondering what the hell happened.” I crossed my legs in front of me and pulled at the few sparse leaves of grass. “I’m sorry that I had to lie to you for so long. I never wanted to, and I hope you believe that.” I took an unneeded breath and ran my hands through my hair. This wasn’t as easy as I thought.
“Nessie is doing great. She and Jacob are backpacking around Asia at the moment. I know they’ll be upset that they couldn’t make it to the funeral, but I know you’re okay with that. You were never one to be the center of attention.” I could feel the lump in my throat swell for the tears that would never be shed. “I’m going to miss you, so much.” I lay down on the ground, and pressed my face to where I knew he would be. I let the memories of my human life play through my mind as I pressed myself as close to my father as I’d ever be again.
“Daddy, daddy, look at me,” I laughed, as I rode my bike down the street.
“Great job, Bells,” Charlie smiled, clapping his hands.
I remembered trying to turn and falling due to my lack of coordination. Charlie was at my side in an instant, cradling me to his chest as I cried. I cut my knee and started crying even harder as I felt the blood drip down my leg. To me, at four, Charlie was the strongest man in the world. He lifted me, and my bike, back to the house, where he sat me on the counter by the kitchen sink and cleaned my knee. I remembered laughing when he kissed it because his mustache tickled my leg. With the band-aid in place he picked me up and went to set me back down, but I wrapped my arms around his neck and held him tight.
“I love you, daddy.”
He rubbed my back and kissed my head. “I love you, too, my baby bell.”
“Forever and ever, baby.”
I sat up and pressed my forehead to the headstone. “I love you, daddy. Forever and ever.” I pressed my lips against the hard marble before standing up and turning around. I wasn’t surprised at all to see Edward standing there with a small bouquet of flowers. He walked over to me slowly and pulled me into a hug.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered, pressing a soft kiss into my hair.
“I’m going to miss him so much,” I whimpered, wishing for once that I could cry.
Edward pulled away from me and walked over to my father’s grave. He knelt down and laid the small arrangement bellow the headstone. He bowed his head and said something I couldn’t quite make out before standing back up and walking back to me.
“What did you say?” I asked when he finally reached me.
“I just gave him the same promise I made the day we got married.” He smiled. “That I would love you, and take care of you, all the days of my life.”
He pulled me into a hug and I sighed at the small comfort I found in his arms.
“Can we stay? Just for the night?” I asked.
“We can stay as long as you want,” Edward answered, rubbing my back softly.
We stood there long after the sun set, just gazing at my father’s headstone. He was my hero, my rock, and my humanity. He was my youth, my past, and my favorite memories. He was my hope, my will, and my strength. He was my father, and I will miss him… always
If I could get another chance
Another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again