The morning is crisp, the sun is beating down the pavement, and my daughter and I climb into the car for our morning commute to her school. We drive to an intersection, one that is filled with a long row of cars. Inside our car, the cd player plays my daughter’s favorite song and she is singing words that she can’t quite pronounce. She stops for a second and tells me to turn off the music. I welcome that request with trepidation because it means that I must converse with her about a question that I can’t answer.
She says, “Momma, I have to tell you something.” Her feet dangle back and forth against the seat, making a tap-tap sound.
“Ok. You can tell me. What is it?” I respond.
“You know that house over there. My grandfather lives in that house.” She points to some random rows of houses.
“No, remember, your grandfather lives in Texas. He doesn’t live here.” I think this is a conversation ender, thinking she means her other grandfather, my husband’s father.
“No, not him, Momma. Your Daddy. He lives here.” She is adamant in her belief that my father lives in a random house at a certain intersection in Phoenix.
I dismiss this conversation as a product of her overactive imagination, but it happens every time. As soon as we cross these particular streets, she insists that my father lives there.
I wish that house existed. It doesn’t. I realize my daughter is attempting to cope with his loss, trying to find him, not really sure where he is. I think back to the house that was my childhood home. It is hollow, the furniture collecting dust, my Dad’s office space empty, and no laughter filling the space. That house doesn’t exist either.