He snuck up to my table when no one else was there.
“I know a bit of what you talk about.”
He paused, so I waited. I wasn’t quite certain what part of my presentation had resounded with him, and I didn’t want to assume.
“My only daughter was stillborn.”
Something happens in my cheeks whenever someone tells me this. I don’t know what it looks like from the outside, but from the inside, it feels as if my skin releases from my muscles, as if my cheeks — in dutiful obedience to the speaker’s command — move into proper riverbed formation to direct the flow of any incoming tears.
“What was — is — your daughter’s name?”
“Sarah. She was born in 19 _ _.”
My breath caught in my throat. We looked at each other, and I debated whether or not to say it. What if I made things worse?
“That’s the year I was born. I am the age of your Sarah.”
He smiled and wiped a lone tear from one of his own riverbeds.
Then he told me stories. Stories about his work, about the many miscarriages his wife suffered after Sarah, about the way the children in his church would come up and start talking to him — “It hasn’t all been bad,” he assured. — about his love of working with wood, about how he made his wife’s casket when she died.
“She was the jewel of my life,” he said, “so I made a jewelry box to hold her.”
I don’t know how that gentleman felt when he eventually walked away from me, but I felt thankful that Sarah had — has — a father such as him to remember her and miss her and love her still.