It was hard to accept that Daddy was dead.
Mum was devastated.
Oh man, we prayed fervently, little brother and I, for GOD to bring him back to life. We were serious.
And then we waited expectantly for him to walk in through the door as usual, with his exuberant booming bass reverberating throughout the house as the carried us aloft in his strong arms and hands that tickled. But no such miracle occurred.
And then one day his car came trundling towards the house. We ran out to meet it, little brother and I, our hearts in our mouths, palms skyward in jubilation, thinking GOD had answered our desperate prayers.
But from within the car emerged one of his former colleagues, newly assigned his company car.
We instantly hated that stranger for not being Daddy, though he came to offer condolences for his loss.
Even little sister, at the time a blissfully ignorant, inarticulate toddler, eventually caught on to the extended absence of a strong, familiar presence. She then cried for days.
The years passed and reality sank inescapably, the hard reality of his continued absence, the oppressive expectation that we would never see him again. The best we could hope for was to eventually come to terms with that Daddy-shaped gap that would never be filled.
To this day his ghost in my dreams is cause for rejoicing. I eagerly pursue it with urgent questions demanding answers, half glad to be reunited at last, though it evades me studiously. Usually people run from ghosts, but this is one ghost I have never forgiven for having the guts to die on me.
Of course I should know better. It was not his fault.