Two hours into the second worst day of his life, Tim talks and laughs at the jokes of people from all over the place. They all speak to him, even if he doesn't recognize them. He wears a nice suit he bought for job interviews. He got the first job he had applied for, so this was now recommissioned as his official mourning suit. His official "you just lost your father" suit.
Tim sat at a desk surrounded by off-white canvas walls, listening to fingers move like music over keyboards, and phones ring and handsets drop, over and over. When he started this job, these noises were the bane of his existence. He would here them when he fell asleep and well into his dreams. Now they are just the sounds of being at work. He would describe it to you like the smell of pencils when you walk into an elementary school.
He was researching his adoption information. His adopted mother had just died three years after his adopted father. Since he was an only adopted child, he was concerned about Christmas. Tim was a creature of extreme habit. Christmas was for family and egg nog and presents. Thanksgiving was for football. Easter was for Jesus and lilacs and pastel colors. Halloween was for taking out the screen in the door to hand out candy. He couldn't think of any family left for Christmas. He had to find his original family.
Sarah was lying on the bed on her side listening to Albert snore. This was a sound that meant nothing to her when they married, but now every breath he takes is misery to her. She feels bad for her thoughts, but he should just die already. She was eager to get back to planning for Christmas. This holiday was for family, and she wanted her 6 children to know how strong she was for continuing the tradition without their father.
The noise from his nose rose above the ceiling and back again. He would snort and stop for a moment, then resume. He was a really loud leaky faucet. Sarah was thinking about hiring someone to saw down a Christmas tree from the back yard for her since Albert was sick when she heard the most beautiful sound she had ever heard. She heard her husband of 35 years breathe one long exhale and then silence. She waited the customary 10 seconds to rejoice. There had been too many false alarms. Then she squealed in excitement and put her mirror under his nose. Clear glass. Hurray!
The phone rings. She gathers herself and answers, "Hello, this is Sarah, who am I speaking too?" "This is Tim, your son. Don't hang up. You gave me for adoption as a baby, and I'm not mad, I am just concerned about Christmas," he says. Sarah paused while he was speaking right before she would have removed the phone from her ear to hang up on him. She heard "Christmas" and returned to her intrigue. She says, "Why Tim, good to hear from you. What draws you to contact me now, and also talking about Christmas?" He replies, "Christmas is for families and I don't have one right now and I'd like to find mine before December 10th to give me time to prepare. "What happened to your family?" she says. "Dead. Dad died of cancer and mom just didn't wake up. It was really sad. Time heals all wounds though, so here I am moving on," he replies. Sarah smiles, sets the phone on her leg and looks over at her dead husband, then to the pictures of her kids (who have always hated Christmas) on the wall. She says, "Tim, come on over for tea, we have a lot of catching up to do."
So here he is. Standing in his repurposed mourning suit on Christmas day at his father's funeral. He sat in the front row closest to Sarah, right next to Bill, Kelly, Beth, Terry, Julie, and Fisher. The preacher spoke about feelings and whatever these guys say, and all of Tim's brothers and sisters exchanged glances and head-shakes at him.
Sarah told him a week earlier at tea that Albert was a Christmas fanatic. That's why they lived on a Christmas tree farm. In reality, Albert hated every holiday and wished himself dead when they arrived. But Tim loved his father because of the lie. He wished he had been able to meet him alive. He knew Albert would understand the order of things. At tea, Sarah told him that she had always wanted to meet him, but couldn't find him. She told him she had never stopped loving him. He didn't know her at all, but he knew that love meant following the order of things, so he loved her too. She didn't know love because she was incapable of feeling anything for anyone else.
Tim wept at his fathers funeral because he thought there was something there to weep for.
Thanks for reading...Z