I only drink one beer with dinner while encouraging her to have a second.
I’m ready to make the sudden U-Turn onto McKalester towards St. Catherine’s hospital before Grace’s phone even rings.
When Grace becomes lost in the maze of sanitized hallways, I play along even though I could navigate the turns blindfolded.
I’ve been in this room a hundred times, watched Grace’s father struggle for uncountable hours. Despite all my attempts I haven’t found a way to make this easy for her. It doesn’t matter how perfect the days or weeks leading up to today are, the pain of losing your father is immune to gestures and intentions.
My watch reads June 5th, 8:14 pm. In 1991 Jennifer Nickels is holding my hand at the end of “My Girl”. In 1983 KISS is about to play Detroit Rock City in Montgomery. Five weeks from tomorrow will be my son’s third birthday party, the one with the ball pit and petting zoo.
I could leave, step into the bathroom and jump to those happier times. Replace the IV beeps with laughter, trade her tears for smiles. I’ve done it before, and felt so guilty afterwards that I made myself relive today a dozen more times before moving on.
There’s no forum for beginning time travelers, no Dear Abbey to let you know how important perspective can be. If I have any advice, it’s to resist the good days. It’s too easy to become lost in an endless loop of our best moments, to boil ourselves down to just a few golden hours. Memory makes us fiends, suckling on the few flawless seconds life can offer. Always avoid the travelers who are trying to escape pain, because what they’re really searching for is a way to stop being human.
Grace folds into my chest. Her sobs quiet in my arms forty-four seconds earlier than average. I take mental notes of the changes I made this time around.
Not a good day, I tell myself, just a better one.
William Gilmer is a writer and poet living in Michigan where Fall never lasts long enough. Over two dozen of his pieces have been published both online and in print. Keep an eye out for his monthly articles in Enchanted Conversation Magazine, and if there isn’t enough going on in your feed, follow him on Twitter @willwritethings.