Peonies bend at the end of their bloom softening the picket fence to my childhood backyard. My father stands over a smoking barbeque, waiting with spatula in hand. He turns to me and smiles. Peeling away from himself, the first him remains to tend the burgers, the second him beckons me over. I climb into his lap, look up toward his face and ask with my eyes, “Do you love me?” He holds me closer. I feel his reply seep into me. 50 years later, silent tears slide down both sides of my face. “Love you too, Dad.”
Lilly Shoemaker is a writer living in Colorado.