She stood on the back of a pick up truck, hands raised to the sky. Her hair fluttered against her face as her skirt swished from side to side. She was singing along to Tracy Chapman’s Fast car. She looked alive, like she did when sixteen with no idea how harsh life could be.
Sam sat beside her with beer in hand. He looked at her and smiled. She had always been the life of the party. He remembered during his seventh birthday when she decided to dress up as Michael Jackson and waited a few minutes before the cake cutting to join the party. Even as the other children sang happy birthday, their eyes were all glued to his sister. He never minded her getting all the attention, she lived off it, while her lived off her energy. It was the circle of life, everyone had a purpose, and well, today was no different.
They were at the cliff they used to hang out in when children. They had their fist family picnic here, Sam kissed his first girlfriend here and escaped to this cliff when in need to blow off some steam.
He looked at his watch. It was quarter past six. It would be getting dark soon and Milly would need him home to help with the kids. He looked at the cooler to see how many more beers they had to go. six. They had downed twelve cans since mid day. He smiled.
He couldn’t remember the last time he got this drunk with Julie, or with anyone for that matter. You see, being a dad had changed him. Being a mum had changed Julie.
Parenting. Being a dad was amazing and hard. He thought of his dad at that moment. He taught him how to ride his first bike, how to clench a fist and taught him how to always defend his sister. He always reminded him Julie was a free spirit, and a beauty, boys would always bother her and it was his job to ensure his sister’s heart was never broken.
So when Mathew came home to ask for Julie’s hand in marriage, dad let Sam do all the talking, and respect and love was formed between the brothers. Their families remained close and they always came to visit their folks over Easter and the week before Christmas.
Dad had always led the Easter treasure hunt games and the children loved. He was their favorite grandpa as he always fed them candy. And every Easter Friday he’d forgo the festive season and play x-box with the kids an hour past their bed time.
“Julie,” Sam called out interrupting his sister’s singing, “you remember dad’s dance? When he’d arrive home from work and hit his belly while dancing to that nesquik advert? I miss that a lot.”
Julie looked at her brother and sat next to him to embrace him. “He made me like history. Remember how he’d help out with our homework? He bought a costume for each great person we read about and impersonated him to help me remember.”
She opened a can of beer and stared at it.” He always hated the fact that we both drank. If he saw us now Sam, if he saw us he’d be so so so mad….”
Julie was crying now. “I miss him Sam, I really do. I don’t know how to be strong without him around. I don’t even know how to be strong for mum, and the kids….”
“Hush hush,” he said stroking her hair, ” this is what today is for. Today is for us to be weak as we want so that when we go back home, we can be strong for everyone else.”
“I miss him too Jules, he made parenting seem easier than it is. He gave us strength for the moments we wanted to break down. I don’t know if I’ll ever amount to the kid of father he was Jules. I’m so afraid.”
“You’re a great dad Sam. There’s so much of him in you. And so much of you in you. Yes it hurts, but we don’t have a choice but to endure and be strong.”
They sat side by side in silence. They knew they did not have much time with their father since last year but cancer always creeps up. And nobody is ever ready to lose their loved ones. Nobody ever has enough time, but they at least had good memories of their father.
Today, they would sit in the back of his pick up truck, getting drunk, thinking of him, missing him, but tomorrow they would be his children, their mother’s support system and a symbol of his great achievements. But one thing was clear, they would never stop missing their dad.