A very good friend of his told him (I'm paraphrasing here), "What did you expect, you weren't here, no one thought you could do both. You didn't give it your all."
My father was completely dejected. Lost. Sullen. He beat himself up. He wore his heart on his sleeve. He loved this town. He loved the Navy. His twinkle was lost. On this night I found him in a frustrated state, a side of him I had never seen before. He asked me to drive him to the local VFW. I asked him why and he barked back at me. I was scared actually, but I drove him there as I begged him to tell me what was going on. I watched him walk up the stairs with his head hanging low. I ran inside to him because this wasn't my father and I was worried for him. I sat on the stool next to him for a few minutes while he stared straight ahead and then I kissed him on the forehead and left.
It's a memory I keep buried, one that cuts me to the bone. I called my brother when I got home (I think my mom was at a meeting while this was going on) and thankfully he drove over and picked him up.
I feel that sullen pain tonight. That dejection and worry. My twinkle is lost. I have beaten myself up and at the same time I am confused as hell. The VFW is ironically at the very other end of the street that I live on. I want to run, I want to scream, I want to cry.
I played with Luke tonight before I made dinner. I wanted to laugh and forget the day. I asked him to never grow up, to just stay exactly as he is right now. He laughed in my face and said, "Mawmmm, I need to grow like a tree silly Mommy." Then he hugged me tight and said, "don't worry, I love you to moon and back and again."