It was this past Saturday. My family gets together once or twice a month for food and fellowship, and this time to celebrate Mother's Day. My papa passed away almost a year ago now, and it is getting easier to gather our family (minus one), but it will never be the same. And we will always be minus one (then minus 2, 3, 4, and so on. It is the nature of the beast).
I am not one to enjoy being in other people's company for long periods of time. I can for some extended moments... but at the start of the second hour, I was ready for a break.
I walked around outside in the woods behind my aunt's house, then I went to the upstairs office to work on my writing.
In that upstairs room, you can hear everything in all parts of the house, so I was very aware of the goings on of my family under my feet. After two hours of computer time (yes, our family gatherings have been known to last all day) and many muffled questions of "Where is Mandy?", I decided to trod downstairs, maybe for a game of cards.
Then I heard something that stopped me in my tracks.
I heard my papa's laugh.
I honestly could not move. For a split second I could see him with my family downstairs, but then the cold realization of his death came back to me. The hair on my neck and arms was on end. I wasn't even breathing, listening for it again.
My papa had a VERY unique laugh. And voice in general. It was deep and booming. No one else in my family has that sound. I've known these people for 24.5 years, I have their nuances memorized.
I wasn't even aware what I was doing until I was all the way downstairs and sat on the floor in the middle of the living room. Everyone was looking at me strangely.
"Mandy, why are you crying?"