Those words and that question, were fixed into my brain at the tender age of seven, and have lived there ever since I heard them from another child who said she was my friend. The play on words sounded odd and funny to me, I mean, we were outside playing and why would anyone say such a thing?! It sounded serious and scary. I actually had to stop from what I was doing, (running around and playing), to think about what this little girl had just said to me, because it sounded insulting. And, when I realized what she meant, it was in fact delivered to be insulting! And, that’s how I learned that my father had died.
As many children do when their parents, guardians or supervisors tell them to go out to play, that was exactly what I had done. That weekend is a fog to me, but those words stuck to me and no matter what kind of soap I’ve used, could never wash them away.
After that interaction, I had to go inside to my house, were for the first time I realized it was full of strangers most of them in uniform. If it hadn’t been daylight, I would have thought there was a party going on, but I heard no laughter or music.
The living room was smoky from cigarets and as I made my way through the room full of strangers, I heard my mother cry out in a scream I had never heard before and when I saw her laid out on the sofa crying as someone tried to console her, I was paralized with fear; I did not recognize her.
In what I can only describe as shock, I walked backwards till I couldn’t go any further. I had bumped into our record player, a piece of furniture back then, and proceed to sit on it as I watched the scene unfold before me.
A kind woman came up to me to ask how I was doing, in response, I asked her, “Is it okay that I’m not crying?” I didn’t know what else to say because tears were not flowing out of my eyes. She replied, “Amy, you can do whatever you want”.