Dawn Begins As It Always Does
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Thanksgiving morning. It's early, and a distinct absence of natural light darkens the corners of the house. The kettle begins to warm, and the French press is empty as I reach for the coffee grinder, only to find nothing ground. This is concerning at 5:30am because grinding coffee is not a quiet affair and I don't want to wake Melissa. Normally when I'm forced to deal with such extraordinary inconvenience, I take the grinder into the other room, hoping to dampen the noise. But on this morning, for reasons too tedious to explain, I journey out of earshot, into the nether regions of Upstairs.
At the top of the staircase is a narrow passage leading to my daughters bedroom. Curiously, the door is closed. I say curiously because Beth moved to Denver four months ago and we generally leave the uninhabited rooms open. Undeterred, I slowly turn the silver door handle, step into the unlit room and immediately notice a shape underneath the bedcovers. Not expecting to see anybody in the room, my heart performs a startled leap. Visions of Goldilocks dance in my head as I stare at the motionless figure breathing softly and steadily. I lean in, trying to catch a glimpse at the face on the pillow, somehow feeling like an intruder even though by all accounts it would be the other way around. The eyes, nose and mouth all look alarmingly familiar. I move a foot closer, still disoriented from the hour of the day and the unexpected visitor. The door creaks open wider as the light from the hall reveals a more clarifying glimpse. It was Beth! Either I'm dreaming or she invented a way to teleport from Denver to Ashland. I reach down and put my hand on her cheek. Time stops, like it sometimes does.
"Bethie?", I ask, with a whisper.
"Pa!" she says, sitting up in an instant, a smile beaming through the sleep. We embrace. Questions are answered. Joy overpowers and fills the room.
Dawn begins as it always does.