Dedicated to my dad
You were a giant, once.
Every step resonated through my world, every word tolled like the great bells of London. You were the sky I aspired to reach, the limits I aspired to challenge. The limits, my mind whispered, that I could never hope to surpass.
For how does one swim better than a dolphin, or change the shifting of the tides, or explore the furthest reaches of space? How does one measure themselves against proportions physically impossible to achieve?
In your shadow, I found my security. You were a fortress, a reassuring presence that meant all was well. I didn’t have to worry. Knowing you went before was enough.
But even you could not withstand the inexorable corrosion of time. Destructive, merciless, it ate away everything. The eyes that always saw leagues ahead; the broad back that held firm against howling winds and tempests; the arms that effortlessly cleared all obstacles from the path; the feet that left deep, lasting footprints wherever you walked.
Like an invading army leaving burnt fields and devastation in its wake, like a plague of locusts, time consumed the giant I knew until you were
A human like me. A human with very visible cracks and flaws once hidden by your size. A human who is as vulnerable and weak and helpless as everyone else. A human who makes mistakes.
Perhaps it was always so, that what I saw was a trick of the eyes like the Wizard of Oz and his contraptions, dazzling behind so many moving parts and an ever-shifting screen of smoke and shadows. Or perhaps it wasn’t you that shrank, but I who grew. I who unknowingly reached those heights, and discovered that all of us are giants in our own way.
Beyond your shadow, the sunlight is warm on my face. The view from the path I have chosen beckons me like the promise of a icy, refreshing drink during a summer heatwave.
But there are days when the rain won’t stop. The ground is slippery beneath my feet. The wind has a cutting chill and I can’t see anything beyond my two hands.
It is those days that I long for the giant I once knew.