I am one of those odd people that seems to feel nature all around me regardless of what else I have on my mind. I'm not talking about woodland creatures like squirrels and woodchucks. What I mean is that, especially at night something will always draw my vision up to the night sky if the moon is especially beautiful or the clouds are deepening.
Tonight it was clear though and the moon was low on the eastern horizon. Still there was something. Something that made me feel different about this warm August night. Maybe it was the fragrance on the breeze. It wasn't particularly windy, there was just a light breeze but it carried on it the smell of autumn already, of ferminting leaves being tossed with a generous helping of damp loam.
As I stepped from my car and headed across the empty parking lot it hit me. Something made my stomach roll a little. Although it could have been the Taco that I had for dinner, it was more of a familiar yet distant feeling of some lonliness.
About a year ago I lost my father. He had a sudden heart attack at work. There are three of us boys. I have an older brother 24 and a younger brother, 15. My older brother has been married for about a year and they just had their first child.
On that particular morning, all three of us were home getting ready for work as my dad and mom were having coffee in the kitchen. I heard my dad say he was leaving for work and as usual everyone just sort of passivly acknowledged his departure. That same feeling rolled through my stomach. I figured it was probably the toast that I had crammed down moments before.
Our dad had always been rather close to us as my mom was rather ditzy at times. She usually had every depression and mental departure that she could find in a book and took an arsenal of pills for it.
No one knew that this would be the last goodbye for dad. He was an attorney and seemed in good health. But the word came to me through the telephone. It was my sobbing younger brother who called my work. Dad had been taken to Cedars. He had a massive heart attack and they weren't giving him much of a chance.
As it turned out, he had never made it to the hospital. He died on the way.
The funeral and all was something out of a traditional nightmare. Whether we wished it or not, dozens of good friends and relatives decended on our home with food that was not eaten and conversation that was not heard. A priest had been with my mom upstairs all afternoon. It was more or less left up to us boys to deal with the hoards of loving friends and family.
I had held up rather well as did my older brother. Jeff however was having bouts of tears all through the day. One or the other of us older brothers spent time in a closeness with my little brother that we hadn't seen in several years, talking to him, helping him through this grief.
I wasn't until tonight though that I had felt this whisper in my ear in that empty parking lot. No, not the whisper of a dead man but something so familiar that it reminded me of him so completely. He would say to me, "Ross, can you feel the night? Can you feel that excitement, that change in the air?"
I always could and tonight too. It was like my dad's voice speaking so clearly to me without words but with a feeling that he and I had shared so many times before.
As I placed my spare key in the door and turned the lock, there was a sudden warmth that came over me like a hot breeze.
I stopped. "Dad?" I said very quietly. And almost as if someone had hugged me. I felt a blush come over my face.