Song: “Mercury” by Counting Crows from Across the Wire: Live in New York City
The story always began the same.
“I saw her again the other day.”
The sad shake of the head, the downcast eyes.
Another story about Mercury. The one that broke Dad’s heart.
“She looked good. Real good. Hadn’t aged a day, I’d swear.”
I smile, sad-like, as best as I can. I feel bad of course, but, at some point, shouldn’t he let go? I mean, I can barely remember Mercury at this point. Why is he still so hung up on her?
“I loved her, you know?” he whispers, looking at me with eyes of shattered glass, “And she loved me too. If I hadn’t…if I did what I was supposed to, I know she’d still be here. With me. With us.”
I put my hand on his and tell him no. Not to blame himself. I don’t know say, “If it wasn’t that day, it would’ve been another Dad.” Although maybe I should. Because it’s true. She was just looking for the opportunity. The only thing Dad is guilty of is not realizing that she was always half out the door.
“She was good to us, wasn’t she? So good.” He’s not talking to me anymore. He’s down some corridor of misplaced memories and nonsense nostalgia.
“There she was, just at the tree line. Looking at me. My mouth went dry. I wanted to call out to her. To apologize. To beg for her to come back. But I…I couldn’t.”
Dad sees Mercury everywhere. Or thinks he does. She left us 12 years ago. There’s no way she looks the same. I’m not sure she’s even still alive, to be honest. She always had health problems. And if she was still alive? I just don’t see her as the type to pop up all over town. Wherever she is, she’s long, long gone.
“Dad, it’s ok. Just…it’s ok,” I mumble, trying to be supportive. Trying.
“It’s not ok,” he replies, hurt laced through his voice. “She meant so very much to me. So, so much. I loved her. We both did. And she’s out there.”
He goes on like this and the drumbeat in my head builds til it is overwhelming. I try to excuse myself but Dad can’t see to let it, or me, go.
“Dad. Stop.” I spit.
“It’s important we talk about these thin—”
“Dad. Mercury was just a cat. She’s gone. She’s been gone. She is not coming back.”
He goes pale and almost gasps. Then, quietly, rises from the table without a word and walks away.
It always ends the same too.