I felt even further away from him than ever before.
“Excuse me, Miss Parrish?” The morgue attendant approached us. “These are your father’s personal affects. He had them on him when he passed.”
He handed me a plastic envelope. Inside were his chunky silver rings, the watch Bolt and I had given him for his thirty-fifth birthday, his wallet, and one other item that surprised me. It was a handmade friendship bracelet I’d made for him when I was ten.
“He was wearing this when he died?” I asked.
The attendant nodded. “We weren’t sure if you wanted it back or if you’d like him to wear it.”
My heart swelled unexpectedly. He’d kept it all these years.
I looked down at him lying still on the stainless-steel stretcher, the sheet pulled up to his chest. I reached for his wrist, momentarily stunned by how malleable it was, and secured the leather bracelet around it. If he’d worn it all these years, then it had meant something to him.
Maybe I had meant something to him too.
As I child, I thought my father’s meanness was my fault. That I’d done something wrong to make him angry at me. Then, as a teenager, I told myself it was because he was a monster who just didn’t care about anyone anymore. Then, as an adult, my perspective was different again. I understood his grief had taken him. Changed him. Made him mean. He hadn’t abandoned me. He had hidden from me. Protecting himself from further heartache. And he had let it destroy us.
Losing his son had shattered his marriage, his relationship with his daughter, and his mind.
Now the tears rolled down my cheeks as I whispered my last goodbye to him.
“I hope you’re happy now that you’re finally with Bolt,” I whispered.
I felt something in me weaken.
I turned to Cade.
“Take me for a ride. I don’t care where, let’s just ride.”
I kept a journal.
I know. Big tough biker dude, right?
But the truth was, after I’d returned home from chasing Indy to Seattle and behaving like a complete psycho, my mom forced me to see a counselor. My head was out of control and she was worried I was going to really lose my shit. It was a good move, because the counselor—a youngish guy called Donnie from San Francisco—really helped to pull me out of the pit I’d fallen into.
One of the things Donnie asked me to do was to keep a journal. To write down the things that happened throughout the day and how they made me feel. He said it would help put things into perspective, and he was right. Writing it all down helped calm my craziness because it made me stop and take a breath. I was able to vent. I was able to get it all out of the tangle in my head and put it together on the page.
Even as life moved on without Indy, I continued to write in my journal. It helped with all of life’s sharp turns, like when my father died in a bar brawl less than a year after Indy left, and Donnie’s death in a car accident only a few months after that. I kept writing about everything. When Caleb went to prison for assaulting a college kid who was raping an underage girl, because he’d beat him so bad he put him in a coma. When Krista thought she was pregnant and the relief I had felt when she wasn’t—because having a baby with another woman would make me feel even further away from the one true love of my life. When Travis Hawthorne was released from jail and the devastation that followed. I had written it all down and it had helped, kind of like some literary Prozac.
Tonight, it was all about Indy. About how she was back in town. How she had asked me to take her to see her daddy. How she had stood over his coffin and stared down at him with tears in her eyes. How her wall of anger had finally come down and she’d reached for my hand. How my heart had longed to take her in my arms and hold her to me so I could absorb all the pain from her body. It all tumbled out of me and onto the page. About the ride we went on afterwards and the sapphire blue sky above us as she wrapped her arms around my waist and held on tight. About longing to feel her lips against mine just one last time.
Afterward, we’d gone to Billy Joe’s in town and eaten burgers and fries, washed down with cherry colas. Her walls were down and we had talked for so long our asses stuck to the vinyl booths when we got up to leave. It was almost as if the years had peeled away. As if the old Indy was back.