Kelsie and her husband, John, were sleeping in her parent’s old bedroom. Her mother couldn’t bring herself to sleep in the bed she had shared with the love of her life for thirty-five years. It was too soon after the funeral. She decided to sleep in Kelsie’s old bedroom.
Suddenly, the sound of a deafening crash woke Kelsie up from a deep slumber. John didn’t stir.
She walked up to the big mirror that had been on the wall ever since she could remember. It had shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. It’s as broken as my heart, she thought.
When she was little, her daddy would pick her up and walk to the very same mirror. “Look at us,” he said. They would smile at each other. He continued picking her up when she was old enough to stand on her own two feet. She sensed that her father didn’t want her to grow up too fast.
She liked the secure way she felt when he held her. She liked the smell of his aftershave, Old Spice, and she liked to rest her head on his shoulder. After a few minutes, he would place her on the floor and ask, “How much does Daddy love you?”
“This much, Daddy,” she would say while spreading her two little arms as far as they would stretch. Then they both laughed, and her daddy gave her a big hug.
Even when Kelsie was a young married woman, her father sometimes walked with her to the mirror. He gave her the same big hug, and they smiled as they looked at their reflection.
“You won’t ever forget your old father, will you?” he asked.
“Of course not,” she replied.
She wondered if he looked into the mirror right before he walked outside on the day he died.
He left his wallet, keys, and a note neatly stacked upon the dresser in front of the mirror. The carefully crafted note was in his distinctive handwriting. He wrote that it was the only thing he could do because he was afraid. Afraid that he would never get out of the hell he was already experiencing every day. He was afraid he would be fired from his job before he got a chance to retire. He didn’t want to be a burden to his wife or children.
His depression started when he knew he had to leave his job because he was going to turn the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five. His poverty-stricken childhood left a deep scar. The thought of losing everything opened it up again. He was afraid no one would hire him because he was getting too old. The fear enveloped him and wouldn’t let him go.
His family tried to think of ways to help him. How could their loving father and husband suddenly turn into a stranger? He no longer smiled. He mulled over every decision he had ever made. His wife took him to a doctor who couldn’t help him. Their only hope was that one day he would wake up and be the person they had always known.
A reprimand at work put him over the edge.
Kelsie remembered how it all ended on a hot summer day when a shot rang out behind the garage of her childhood home. A home where she always felt so safe.
She pondered her father’s fate. Was there a hell in which he was wandering for eternity, was he up in heaven, or was he just a part of the earth now? Surely, God would forgive him. He’d done nothing but help other people all his life. He had never said one mean word to anyone. He was a giver, and a comforter. Everyone adored him.
Kelsie brought herself back into the present. She needed to pick up the tiny pieces of the mirror. She wondered why no one else heard it break.
A white light appeared on the shattered mirror. Suddenly, the pieces of the mirror flew off the floor and came together in one piece again. It was like watching a movie running in reverse.
Kelsie smelled “Old Spice.” She looked up in the mirror and saw the daddy of her childhood holding six-year old Kelsie. He had on his old white T-shirt, khaki pants, and brown loafers. Little Kelsie was wearing her favorite frilly pink dress, lacy socks,and patent leather shoes. Her long brown ponytail was fastened with a shiny silk pink ribbon.
Big Kelsie tried to reach through the mirror, but the cold hard surface of the mirror stopped her.
Her father looked lovingly at little Kelsie. You are my precious girl, and that’s why you’ve been chosen to be my messenger. Tell everyone to forgive me. I made a terrible mistake, and now I’m sorry. I want you to tell Mommy and your brother and sister that I’ve been granted a chance to see you all again one day. My punishment is seeing how much I hurt the people I love.
“Of course, I’ll tell them Daddy,” said both Kelsies at the same time.
The white light became brighter and suddenly she could barely see her father and little Kelsie. Her father carefully let go of little Kelsie, and she disappeared. He turned toward the light. Eventually, he became a part of it.
Kelsie looked down, and saw a small piece of the mirror shaped like a heart sitting on the dresser. It was on top of the pink silk ribbon from little Kelsie’s ponytail. She found the heart space where the broken piece belonged. She picked it up, and pressed it against the mirror.
Two tears slid down Kelsie’s cheeks. “I promise I will never forget you Daddy. I forgive you,” she said.
The piece melded into the heart space.
She picked up the shiny pink ribbon and ran toward her old bedroom to deliver her father’s message.