Riding down the road, Jimmy turned to his Dad and asked why Mommy had to leave. Walter had dreaded this question for the past two hours, and two hours is not a short amount of time when you’ve spent them staring at the covers of old magazines in a hospital waiting room. The anticipatory silence from Jimmy expecting an answer hung in the air like still smoke in a windowless room, and it started to make Walter cringe. He told Jimmy that there was a place that all of us went when we died. We all went to a beautiful place where everyone was happier than they are now. A place where you could eat your favorite meal every day and there were no commercials on TV. A place where you could be whoever you wanted to be and no one would tell you otherwise. The place that Mommy went to was eternal, and so she never again needed to experience the feeling of loss, the feeling that the two passengers in the car knew all too well.
Jimmy said that he liked the sound of this place and asked if they could go there to visit Mommy. Walter thought about Jimmy’s question for a moment, really taking in all the implications that went along with it, before finally saying yes. In a flash he jerked the wheel of his 1992 Ford Escort into the guardrail of the narrow bridge they were driving on and sent the vehicle hurtling through the air down towards the water below. It was then that Walter felt the most free that he ever had in his life. There comes a time in life when you realize that the person you wished you would become, is never going to be. This is a point where you feel like you’ve tried everything you could to improve your life, but circumstances outside your control always made you stop short. You’ve tried everything possible you tell yourself, everything that is except death. Who knows what could be waiting for you on the other side of that wall. Perhaps everything that you wished to be possible was just right there, waiting for you. There was only one way to find out.
Walter looked at his son, who had a look of profound fear on his face, but also a look of trust in his eyes as he looked back at his father. Trust that his father wouldn’t lead him to the wrong place, and that if he only followed his father’s lead he would be all right. This was the type of trust that only a dependent could have for their caregiver, mainly because they didn’t have a choice. The problem with children is their innocence and their loyalty. Perhaps if we had learned to disobey our parents sooner we wouldn’t end up driving off a bridge with our only son in the car and our only daughter at home waiting for us to come home with the prognosis of her mother’s stroke.
But there was no time to think about these things now since all Walter had to do was look forward to the impending death that was staring him straight in the face. If he could do it all over again, he probably wouldn’t. He was excited about his future. He just hoped that Jimmy felt the same way.