It should be raining, Tilly Mason thought. Instead, warm February sunbeams bathed Maplewood cemetery in harsh light, pointing out the irony, the iniquity of the situation. A green tarp covered a mound of frozen dirt behind Pastor McElhenny, dirt Tilly knew would soon bury her father forever.
She should be sobbing. She knew that. Like everyone else. Her brother, her mother, the assembled grandchildren. Her father’s golfing friends, his coworkers, the men from his club were all there, somber in their dark overcoats, puffs of breath attesting to the frigid temperature in spite of the sun.
Back at the funeral home, in the next room, a family had eulogized a child. So much easier, she thought. Understandable grief, a grief that overwhelmed the senses. Not like this. No closure, no final battle, no comprehending a relationship that never jelled. She kicked at a clump of snow, imagining she’d kicked that bronze colored coffin, woke him for one final confrontation. Why didn’t you care? Why didn’t you love me? Why, no matter how much I accomplished, did you refuse to see me?
She thought of the husbands, four, windmills she’d effectively knocked over in vicarious wars with her father. A frustrated Don Quixote wielding her heart like a sword. Noting a case, she acknowledged she was alone today.
All those times she’d called her father’s name and he’d refused to answer, to be there, to acknowledge she was more like him than any of the others. But that was it, wasn’t it? All those characteristics he’d been unable to tolerate within himself he’d seen in her. And turning from that truth allowed him to reign unchallenged.