“Wake Up! Wake Up!!!” John raised the blanket over his head, as if that would protect him from the incoming onslaught, he was wrong. “It’s morning! Time to get up!” He tried to hold the blanket in place but his son’s small hands were able to pull it off him, their energy easily overpowering his still half-asleep limbs. “How can someone that small be so filled with energy?” thought John before his train of thought was crushed by the combined weight of the four year old and his canine compatriot. “I’m up, I’m up!” Shouted John, his hands raised in surrender before grabbing the young boy for a revenge tickle. Only releasing him after the resulting squeals reached their prerequisite pitch. Philip ran out to get dressed, followed by the dog. Not a bad way to start the day, mused John.
Breakfast was a short affair, they had planned to have a large brunch in the shops later. A strong tea and toast took the edge off John’s sleepiness and he watched with increasing horror as Philip chose the most processed, most sugar-filled of all his cereal selection. It wasn’t as if he needed the energy. The boy shared with the dog, one spoon for her, two for him. The vet says it wasn’t good to do that but John couldn’t bring himself to stop either. Soon enough they were finished and it was out the door.
It was a clear spring day but there was still a nip in the air. The three, John, Philip and the dog walked through their estate. John had difficulty keeping the dog in check as she kept on trying to catch-up with Philip, always at least ten steps ahead. They reached the park and John released the dog. She burst from her confines and tore through the grass making straight for Philip. The boy knew what she was after and in one fluid, lightening motion took out a ball from his pocket and threw it at right angles to the dogs course. She curved in the direction of the ball bringing herself nearly underneath the ball as it flew above her. Then with a deft flick of her body she leaped into the air, snapping the ball in mid air. She turned to see Philip running in the opposite direction and took off in hot pursuit. Taking about ten seconds to cover the distance. Philip stopped, giggling and took the proffered ball and taking a run released it into the air. John sat on one of the benches and watched as the drama unfolded. Mostly, Philip threw the ball like the dog asked but roughly every third time he would hide it in his coat after a false throw. The dog went mad running up and down before sussing what had happened and going back to the then giggling boy to root out the ball. They both could have literally played for hours but there was other things to do, and while John was daydreaming he felt a sudden wallop when a ball hit his body, with the dog coming right behind. “Come on Dad!” shouted Philip, “It’s time to go!”
They exited the park and walked together further along up the road. They came to the large iron gates and Philip half walked, half ran through. John slowed, reluctant to enter only dragged through by the dog trying to stay with the boy. He had never liked to enter cemeteries especially since…
John could see Philip getting faster and faster, almost breaking into a run as he made his way through the rows of tombstones. John struggled as he tried to drag the increasingly panicked dog in the direction the boy had taken. One more look down to avoid a stone and when he turned his head up, there was no sign of him. He had already arrived.
John and the dog reached the grave and he noticed approvingly that it appeared to be in a good condition as before. The flower bed was lovingly attended with not a weed visible except for one patch. Philip was leaning, towards the tombstone, whispering, telling it his secrets, about what had happened, what he had done. John never pried into the details, Philip said it was private. He held a respectful distance, so far that the inscription on the stone was barely visible. He didn’t need to see it, he knew it off by heart.
Laura McGuinness, Born 12th march 1979, died 15th november 2007, in childbirth.
Philip finished whatever it was he was saying and lifted himself from the graveside. He put a hand into the breast pocket of his coat and removed something. It was a daisy. It was always something like that, a daisy or a buttercup or sometimes a daffodil, a placed it in the pile before the stone. Philip then walked back to John, gave the dog a hug and looked into his fathers eyes. “Do you want to talk to her?” John shook his head and said “I’m OK, I’ll talk to her later. Do you want to do get some brunch?”
With that the child raced ahead with a squeal. The dog again dragging John after him in pursuit. As he moved away he found himself looking back at the grave, slowing, more and more, until he came to a stop, lost in his own thoughts. He felt a small hand in his, looking down he saw Philip, smiling up. “It’s OK daddy, she’s watching us.” With that John grabbed his son with another squeal saying “Of course she is, because she loves us both! Now come here!” and hugging his son as close as he could. “I am hungry!” the boy said “We should go!” “Lets go to O’Briens.” Suggested John Lifting Philip to his shoulders “We can get pancakes, your favourite.”
And with that, son over his shoulders, dog at his heel, John marched through the silent rows. His saturday morning was over, time to see what was coming next.