In one word.
Sometimes a picture can be worth a thousand words.
This word was worth a thousand emotions. A hundred memories. And one act.
An act contemplated decades over. An act planned, and discarded, and dreamed of, and played out in the dark of the drenched and nightmare-filled night.
I had endured countless heartaches, and still I couldn’t say goodbye to her.
I knew, in the smallest, most guarded, and secret place in my heart that I would endure dozens more and would never find the courage to say goodbye.
No pain I could experience would near match the pain that goodbye would cause her.
Her words poured over me, into me, sometimes, if I was strong, through me.
Hot lava words singeing the smallest hairs on my arm. Boiling with anger. Volcanic vice, churned from fear.
Frigid words, purposefully spiked with the coldest ice she could conjure. Icicles clinging stubbornly to me, my clothes, my space.
And yet. No words would have moved me from my place.
It only took one word.
One card, presumably filled with words. Most likely replete with honeysuckle hugs and buttery banalities.
Sent to my daughter. Who has just begun to read.
Has begun to venture down the winding and infinite path of words.
On her path, she will meet words of all manner. Shake hands with words of curiosity. Turn her eyes from words of hate. Embrace with reckless abandon words of passion, and love, and wonder.
But she will never know the words in this particular card.
And neither will I.
The words on the card will live a life in darkness. Never to be released from the envelope in which they are bound.
For the envelope itself contained words.
Of the type you would expect. A name of a child. Her address. A return address.
But on the back, a note.
A note to let me know that the card was only from her. Not from my father. Because he was too busy with his girlfriend.
Except she used a different word.
The word was whore.
Exposed on an envelope. For the world to read. For me to read. And now, for my daughter to read.
That word has seen the light of day. It lives. It breathes. It earned a life of meaning and magnitude.
But the words inside the card will live a life of solitude. Never to be known.
Just as she will never be known.
Yesterday, it was complicated.
Today, it is clear.
A word for a word.
Hers was Whore.
Mine is Goodbye.