I looked over at him, studying his silhouette as he leaned against the tree with one leg crooked to brace him as he gazed out at the vista before us. I knelt on the ground, resting an elbow on bended knee, my hands clasped loosely together. The silence was thick and my heart caught as I waited, knowing that I must hear what he has to say. Without turning to look at me, he waved his arm, sweeping wide to encompass the scene before us. I turned to see. We were high upon a ridge overlooking a mountain range, their rolling waves spreading before us with valleys deep in darkness. The setting sun and gathering mists made it all ethereal and I shivered as I inhaled the scent of warm earthen air.
“We have travelled far together and have overcome much,” his deep voice came softly but sounded strong to my waiting ear. “All this and more, we have seen and learned from.”
I knew his words were true, knew that we had travelled through these mountains and valleys, further even than could be seen from our vantage point. I drew a deep breath and sighed as flashing memories passed. Tears washed my face even as joy filled me. It had indeed been quite a journey.
He turned to look at me. I had never seen him look so young, though I had seen pictures of him like this. He was lean and healthy, and there was a radiance about him that drew me. I smiled even as I felt more tears gather. He smiled back and I closed my eyes for a moment.
I opened them and the scene had changed. We were standing on a rocky, dirt path that led to a craggy mountain wall before us. The path turned to the left and disappeared behind boulders and brush at the base of the wall. He started forwards, and I a step behind. He heard me and turned.
“No, you cannot come with me any further,” he smiled softly and reached to press my shoulder, then touched my cheek. “You have done well but there is much yet for you to do. I must go on from here and you must remain. We’ll be together again!”
He stepped away and raised his hand as if in good bye. A wave of warmth flowed over me and yet I felt chilled. I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat and nearly choked as a sob escaped. He smiled. The radiance upon him grew greater as he turned to go. Light seemed to flow from within him as well and as he turned the bend of the path and started behind the boulders, it flashed, he flashed… and then it was dark. Blackness caught me and sent me spinning in pain and loss.
A phone was ringing, the sound loud and jangling my nerves, bringing me upright in bed. My breath was ragged and my pillow soaked by the tears I had been crying. I wiped my face with the back of one hand even as the other grabbed the offending instrument from its cradle.
“Hello?” my voice croaked and I cleared my dry throat. “Hello?”
“Sweetheart, he’s gone. Your father, he died a half hour ago.”