New York for Marion: Alice’s Choice – Postcard Prose #7

(HI DAD!)                7-17-81                                          HOWDY RACHEL & LLOYD

DEAR ALICE,
HEY, HOW’S IT GOING?! HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTISGING YOUR BASKTBALL? ITS REALLY FABULOUS HERE! I MET YOUR EXCHANGE, RACHEL, SHE’S REALLY NICE. THE GUBBINS ARE GOING TO HAVE THE KENNEDYS OVER FOR TEA! I STILL CAN’T GET USED TO RIDING ON THE LEFT-HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD, BUT I’M LEARNING! WELL, GOT TO GO.
LOVE,
CHARLOTTE
P.S. Please give Post card to Dad.

I WENT TO H.C. ON THUR, I GOT LOST IN THE MAZE! Hi Mum!


Charlotte’s writing has always been so scatter-brained, Alice thought as she threw the postcard back into the wooden basket in the middle of the dining room table.

Yet, reading those last two words – Hi Mum! – brought on a deep melancholy that she had been experiencing for a while. It had been almost two months since their mother’s death, and Alice still wasn’t able to cope with the fact that her mother had left this earth.

Mrs. McCall had left behind her husband and three daughters – Alice, Grace, and Charlotte. The news of the death of their mother hit each of them extremely hard, for they were all out of town or out of the country around the time she passed. Their family was fairly wealthy thanks to their father’s past business endeavors, and once the girls were finished with school, with one of them married, their parents encouraged them to see the world while they still could.

And so they did; so much so that it was very rare that all three of the daughters were home all at once for a holiday. And for none of them to be around when Mrs. McCall died made her death even more difficult. None of them missed her funeral.

Once the funeral was finished, however, each of the girls reacted differently to the new world before them; the world that no longer included their mother. Grace went back to her hometown, and decided to apply to graduate school in the fall to further pursue writing. After hearing that she’d been accepted to Savannah College of Art and Design, she’d suddenly dropped communication with the family. No one had heard from her in weeks.

Charlotte resumed her travels, unable to just sit around and dwell on the fact that her mother was gone forever. She needed the distraction of new adventures to ease her grief. She’d still write to her siblings and father when she could; scattered postcards with random bits of information about her journeys – a possible attempt at trying to get all of their minds off of the loss of their  mother, and onto the possibilities the world had to offer.

As for Alice, she had decided to take a break from traveling for a while to be by her father’s side as long as he needed her to be, to ride out this sorrowful time their family was dealing with. Being the oldest, she felt it was her responsibility to take care of her father, to give him some company so that he would not drop so deep into despair so as to pass away himself.

In the weeks following her mother’s passing, Alice couldn’t help but feel guilt and shame for not seeing her mother as often as she’d traveled to other places. While she had been drinking wines in California, or walking through museums in New York City, her dear mother had been back home, eagerly awaiting to hear stories of her daughters’ travels, but just as eagerly awaiting to have every single one of them home.

“Why can’t you all just take a break from traveling at the same time?” Alice recalled her mother asking her during the Christmas holiday. It would be the last time she saw her mother in person, heard her voice, tasted her cooking. The last time experiencing her mother, and she didn’t know it. She couldn’t even answer her mother’s question without a joking answer – “We’re busy people, Mom. We want to experience life outside of Marion, since we’ve lived here our entire lives.”

Well, her mother would get her wish when all three of the girls took a break to go to her funeral. The thought caused tears to flow down Alice’s cheeks. How could they have been so selfish? How could they not have come home to see their parents? Did it really take the death of one of them to bring them all back together? And is that what it would take for them all to be brought together again?

Alice began to sniffle a little, and she wiped her nose and cheeks with the back of her hand. She’d been unable to have a full week without her crying about her mom or her family. She tried hiding her sadness from her father, but he knew her all too well. At least from her staying with him, Alice could tell some slight improvement in his attitude.

“Honey…”

Alice planted both of her hands onto her face to quickly wipe away any excess tears, and turned in her chair to face her father, who’d walked into the dining room with the mail in his hands.

“Hey Dad,” she said, “whatcha got there, more bills?”

Mr. McCall sat in the chair next to Alice, placing the envelopes onto the table. A worried look was painted onto his face.

“Alice, honey, were you crying?”

The tears forced their way through Alice’s eyes, and down her cheeks, as a giant frown appeared on her face. She could never lie to her father about crying over her mother. She wanted to be strong for him; to assure him that she could move on, therefore, he could too. But the weight of her mother’s death was too much to bear. Two months later, and it still felt like she’d gotten the call about it from Marion to London yesterday.

Silently, Mr. McCall opened up his arms, and Alice leaned towards him from her chair, laying her head onto his shoulder, and letting out heavy sobs. He hugged her tightly, rubbing her arm with his hand as she continued to cry.

She didn’t know how long they stayed in that position, simply holding each other. She’d cried for a good while, but eventually stopped, and even then, they didn’t let each other go.

As they sat there, Alice had a thought that changed the perspective of her staying with her father:

Maybe it isn’t about keeping Dad company, and supporting him through this. Maybe I’m the one who needs the support, needs the company, needs the comfort. 

Maybe I just need my dad. 

 

💙 Mishy 🦋

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