I really crashed about a week after the funeral. I think I cried as much that night, as I puked last night. I just couldn’t stop. I had been pretty quiet for several days, and had even stopped running. Dad tried to get me to talk, but I didn’t know how. Then one day, during track practice after school, Forrest made some wise crack to me about why I didn’t want to run that day, and told me to suck it up. That was all it took. I laid into him with all the fury my wiry frame could muster, and had that mammoth jerk pinned to the ground in record time. Coach Fitz had to pull me off, and then suspended me from the team. I told him it wasn’t necessary, that I had quit. Then I sunk to a new low when I tossed out the crack that the team had no chance the rest of the season without me. I was such a jerk.
That night, Dad sat me down on the backyard trampoline, and we just looked up at the stars and sat quietly. He didn’t push, he just waited. We both did. I figured sooner or later he would scold me, but he just sat quietly and let me work things through inside. Finally, he took my hand, and the tears started.
“I really miss Grandpa.”
“Me too, son.”
“It hurts so much, Dad.”
“I know. Grandpa really loved you. He was so proud of you.”
“You think so?”
“But I didn’t visit him after he left. After she left.”
“He understood, son.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m positive. Grandpa was a wise and patient man. He always understood.”
Eventually, we made our way indoors. Dad grabbed a few blankets, and threw a log on the fire. I cuddled near the fireplace, and he brought down “The Collection”. And “The Shoes”.