I stood before it: the place I’d poured my heart and soul into. The place that had captivated my heart like a thief in the night the very first time I came. The place that reminded me of him.
To this day, I will never know what I loved so much about those spectacular Sunday afternoons down at the racetrack with my old man, aswhen I was a child. It was just our time. Me and dad against the world.
The air buzzed with an electric atmosphere. As the cars roared past, the bustling crowds cheered back just as loudly. Energy, enjoyment and excitement richocated around the concrete and tarmac. Dad turned to me: “Isn’t this brilliant, kiddo?”
Engine fumes and the stench of burning rubber fused together, creating the unmistakable scent. I would have bought it bottled. On Monday mornings in my rush to school, I would hold yesterday’s clothes and breathe in the remaining smell and fall back into daydream about those astounding afternoons. They were the thing that kept me going through the week, my motivation. When it finally shut down when I was just seventeen, I swear my heart tore in two. It physically hurt. I’d never had my heart broken at that point in my life; I’d never cared about having a boy in my life at that time, but when I had to say a final goodbye to my favourite place,that’s when my heart broke first. I never knew a pile of bricks and mortar could do such a thing to a human soul.
I stood there in the forgotten landscape, scarred with history. I look down at my hand: wrinkled, almost prune-like. No longer that child I was remembering. The racetrack before me… it was no longer that. Broken and unused. Deserted. I stole a glance at the urn hugged to my chest. Five years sitting in a cabinet. Five years since I’d lost my soulmate. Five years since another heartbreak and now it was time to say one final goodbye.
This was the only place I’d even considered to do this in. As an only child and mum passing away during childbirth, this was my choice, my decision of where to lay him to rest. This was the spot where we spent our favourite time together. This was our racetrack.
“I miss you so much, Dad.”
I wanted to send him off with some grand speech or something but the words stuck in my throat, as though sand had been forced down my neck. Just close your eyes Jessie.
The heat from the track flooded my face. I was already cooking in the late July heatwave. I followed the green car, I was cheering on, with my eyes all the way around the oval. Fourth, third, second, third. It was so close. Like a giant sea creature taking me by surprise and capturing me, dad whirled me around him in his bear-like hug.
“Put me down”, I screamed angrily through the giggles. I was missing all the best action, I thought, as I battled my way out of his grasp.
“Kiddo, look, look. The green car’s first!”
Celebration. My chosen car had won! Ha! Mr Satcher next door owed us £10 now. Time for an ice cream, I think! We ended that victorious day with a chippy tea and caramel ice creams for afters, courtesy of Mr Satcher. Better luck next time, I thought smugly. Just six more days and I could relive this splendour all over again…
My eyes flew open. Breathe. In and out. Back to the present. In and out. Prudently, I opened the urn. I can do this. In and out.
“Hey Dad,” I whispered into the wind. “So umm, I know you probably have a pint in your hand right now looking down to where I’m standing. I…I can see you…you beaming from here, but umm, just know that… oh Dad I miss you so much! I don’t know what to do with myself, all them hours that were always dedicated to our time together. S-sunday afternoons especially.”
Sweeping away the tears cascading down my face, I gingerly knelt down. “So this is the final goodbye then… I mean it’s never really time for goodbye I suppose, but it’s time. Time to let you go.”
Grief poured out of me. Slowly, holding onto every last precious moment I had with my dad, I let the ashes flutter into the morbid landscape like little butterflies and settle in the debris.
“Bye Dad…” I choked out. One final look at our place. One final moment holding onto the Sunday afternoon memoirs.
One final moment with him. One final moment.