“Next year”, I say aloud to the cylindrical cardboard container with the printed beach scene with a starfish. “I’ll take you home next year, Dad.” He wants his ashes scattered in the San Francisco Bay, but I live in Hawaii now, and like the rest of the world, have curtailed travel to a bare bones necessity. Cremains in a handy recyclable container require special permissions to transport, hopefully I have the paperwork in the same place as the urn. When I was about three years old, I thought I could swim. All the other kids were in the pool, the parents were having cocktails on the chaise lounges. I was bored, so I jumped in. Strangely, I remember laughing all the way down to the bottom where I sat in wonder at this muffled underwater universe. Story goes, nobody noticed except my dad, who had seen me go in. The other kids hadn’t noticed me either. Minutes ticked by, and I didn’t come up. Dad took off his shoes and jumped in, fully clothed and pulled me up. I still wasn’t scared. For some reason, I felt perfectly safe the whole time. The water must have been very warm, because I really don’t like the outside temperature of the air or the water that might touch me to be hotter or colder than me. Especially not colder.
My quiet house when the wind dies down feels like the bottom of that pool sometimes. I’ll take my glasses off, and the air thickens, my eyesight gets blurry. Pain from old surgeries slows my rise from the easy chair. It’s like walking through Jell-O to get to the bedroom. It occurs to me – now that Dad is dead, who is going to reach through the water and pull me back up?