I have missed you. I’ve been away trying to sort through the feelings I have after losing my father. Losing my father, wow. They buried him Monday, military style. Wow. All the days leading up to his funeral, everywhere I went, I told somebody, anybody morning my Daddy died yesterday, last week, this morning. I couldn’t keep it to myself. It was too big for me. I wanted everybody to know. Even if they didn’t care. Even if it wasn’t that person’s business, or that person’s uncle or coworker or next door neighbor. I carried those words around my shoulders like a coat that wouldn’t button. Let them spill out of me like wind seeping over your car window even when it’s rolled up all the way. I told the bored Black woman who signed me in at the comptroller’s office in Annapolis my Daddy just died. She said I’m sorry to hear that and for six seconds I felt better. I felt un-invisible. Heard. Like I wasn’t carrying so much hurt or at least I wasn’t carrying it silently. I told a young lady at the bank and even though she didn’t understand what I was saying, she stopped for a bit and looked into my teary eyes. At some point during the years-long drive to Atlanta to memorialize and bury him I thought about how millions of us walk around each day tending to the business of losing someone we love deeply(picking up the chicken for the repast, schlepping to Kinkos to have the programs made, pushing our hearts to the dreadful “arrangement meeting” to show the funeral director which suit to slide over Daddy’s cancer-shredded body) and we feel like we’re going to burst but we never tell anybody what we’re going through. We suffer alone while doing the hardest work we’ll ever have to do. So while driving to Atlanta I decided us mourners shouldn’t be so silent. Those of us who want to publicly declare I am grieving, my aunt died last night, must have a way to do so. A simple gesture to say I don’t want to do this alone. It shouldn’t cost. We shouldn’t have to order anything or wait for a bracelet or ribbon in the mail. We’ve got enough to do just after the death. What could this way of designating our pain be… A friend of mine suggested a shoelace tied around the wrist. I like it. Ordinary, accessible, not too frilly or too hard. Just a tiny, quiet statement to join us to each other. Reminds me of the urban ritual of throwing sneakers over the phone wire when someone in the community dies. A fresh twist on the tie a yellow ribbon round the old oaktree ritual. I’ll try it. Today I’ll have my son wind one of his laces around my wrist to see how it feels and how it speaks to me. Then I’ll wear it when I go to Riteaid to get another box of kleenex. If the cashier asks what it’s for, I’ll tell her about my father. How last Saturday at his funeral my heart was as packed as the chapel. How living the rest of my life without his voice is going to be hard. She’ll say I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be happy she did.