The family went over to your sister’s house on Sunday for a Veteran’s Day BBQ. We played Cornhole and devoured ample amounts of high-calories southern food. I had a cheeseburger (all of the fixins), some baked beans, and potato casserole. The casserole was always my favorite, remember? People complained it was too dry. I took the leftovers home.
I expected you to walk through the side door to join us. I imaged you in your faded, blue-gray Local 80 Union sweatshirt and shorts. You wore shorts year-round. I saw you as a weary traveler that found solace and peace in a local family diner. You didn’t say much when you wandered in. You never had to. The smoking section was out back.
I made my way outside to sit with you and talk about work and life. I didn’t drink or smoke anymore, so I felt slightly out of place. You knew how horrible my anxiety was. I was able to push through it and explained to you the necessity of maintaining a positive outlook.
I rinsed off my plate and placed it in the dishwasher. I glanced outside to see if you were still there, still smoking those damn cigarettes. You were gone. You were never there.
The ashes were still smoldering.