I jolted myself out of my reverie. I was sitting at the local coffee shop in downtown Seattle waiting for my father to show up. He called me last week and told me that he was in town…by himself this time and he wanted to see me. I haven’t seen him in over five years, so I sat at a little table in the corner jiggling my right leg out of pure nerves. My nerves didn’t just have to do with my father, but I despised being in public places because of the voices. Everyone that walked by, every stranger that I encountered had a story to tell. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad but always honest. Then I heard his voice. Well, not his voice but his inner voice, full of sadness and relief. My father.
I turned and saw him just standing there in the doorway of that little coffee shop, looking at me. He seemed to swallow his nerves and stepped forward. I stood up, took steadying breaths, and wiped my palms on the seat of my pants. When he stopped directly in front of me he cracked a small smile.
“Hey, honey.” He wrapped his arms around my shoulders.
“Hi, dad.” I squeezed him around his waist. With five years gone I had almost forgotten how comforting my dad could be. We sat down, at first in awkward silence and then I asked, “Where is Melissa?”
He shifted in his seat, full of nervous energy, but then he answered, “She’s fine.” She’s not fine. She’s actually extremely sick, but I know you don’t really care about her and I don’t blame you.
I heard every word of my dad’s troubling thoughts and took a sip of my latte.
“Dad, be honest with me. I can tell something is bothering you.” He smiled sadly.
“How do you do that? You always seem to read between the lines.”
“I know you.” Nobody knew about my secret ability, not even my family. “So, what’s going on with you?”
He looked up from the table and I saw the tears start to flow. I was caught completely off guard. My dad never cried. Not once. I shifted my chair closer to him and placed my hand over his.
“Dad, what’s wrong?” He took his right sleeve and rubbed his face to get rid of the tears, then he cleared his throat.
“It’s Melissa,” he said gruffly to hide his obvious pain. She has breast cancer.
“She’s sick, isn’t she?” I finished saying what he didn’t seem able to say. He took a deep breath and nodded his head.
“Yeah. She has breast cancer.”
“Dad, I’m so sorry. I know I never gave Melissa a chance, but…”
“And I completely understand. I don’t even know why I came here to tell you this.”
“Dad, let me finish. Everything that happened between you and mom was devastating but I hate seeing you hurt.” We put our heads together and just sat there for a moment in total, comforting silence.
“Daddy, I know why you came here. You need family right now.”