Joseph A. Pinto

barflypoet & author of dark fiction

I have become acutely aware that I’ve marked the passing of days not by the rise and fall of the sun, but rather a spark of flame.

Each night before going to sleep, no matter how tired I may be, nor how late into the night the clock does strike, I take a little tea light candle and place it within its decorative holder.  Upon its surface, the scripted words: “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk in my garden forever.”

I own a beautiful garden, indeed.

There remain for me delicate strings that I cannot relinquish.  Tethers upon which my grip shall not loosen.  I believed at one point that this marked my final stage of grief, but I was wrong.  My steps have come and gone.  The searing dissection of my heart.  The many moments I have spent surrounded by others, yet lost.  The callous void of any being and purpose.  The naive empowerment derived from a senseless rage.  So it was I thought that denial had, at last, overtaken me, a surge from a merciless sea, some featureless hound nipping at my heels.  But it had not.  I merely realized there are cords never to be broken.  Knots never to be unbound.

The subtle wash of flame licks my cheek every night, penetrating the darkness by means of a sublime orange halo.  It provides me comfort; it provides me peace.  But as my lips move wordlessly in silent prayer, it provides me one other measure, a possession that no person on earth should live without – hope.

Nearly a year ago, I posted a blog titled “Has my father come back to visit my daughter?”        It took a long time for me to digest what my daughter could have possibly seen.  Cruelly ironic, is it not, that when confronted with a truth so dear to your heart, it becomes almost too difficult to believe.

My daughter Athena, who is readily progressing beyond her developmental delays, took my hand last week and led me into the kitchen.  Without just reason, she proceeded to open a drawer full of AJ’s doggie snacks; I have not emptied that drawer, nor will I ever.  Her presence remains permanent within my house.  “Come Daddy,” Athena said.  My daughter’s speech has blossomed in comparison to last year.

“What are you doing?”

“Come Daddy,” she repeated.  In her little hand, a bag of AJ’s snacks.  I followed her sunshine smile up the stairs.  My daughter melts me.  And she knows it, too.  “Up-tair, Daddy, ” she giggled upon each step.  “Up-tair!”

She scampered down the hall and entered my bedroom.  Athena stopped before AJ’s urn, which is nestled upon her favorite pillow, surrounded by her favorite toys.  There is a vase alongside her as well, filled every week with fresh flowers.  Athena waved the doggie treats in the air, then brought her wiggling fingers to her mouth.  “Eat…eat.”

There are moments in life that seem to move much slower than the rest.  Moments you realize some great epiphany is about to strike you breathless and grasping at straws.  “Who’s eating?” I asked.

“A-Jaaaaay.  Feed ‘er.”

“You’re feeding her?”

“Yeah Daddy!”  Delirious shrieks of delight.  Hands clapping with joy.  “Me feed A-Jaaaaay.”

And as it happened nearly one year ago, I could not stop myself from asking again.  “Do you see AJ, Athena?”

“Yeah, Daddy.”

“Where do you see her.”

“My rooooom.”

Yes, sometimes you realize an epiphany is about to strike.  “In your room?  When do you see her in your room?”


“At night in your room.  Tell me what happens.  Tell me what AJ does.”

” ‘leep on bed wit me.  ‘ick my nose an’ ‘nuggle.”  Athena stuck her own tongue out, showing me how AJ licked her nose.  Then she proceeded to show me where AJ sleeps and snuggles on her bed.  Alongside her left hip and leg.

Exactly where AJ always slept with me.

Each night, every night, I light my candle.  I have done this faithfully since both my father and dog passed away, always with a prayer – for their peace and joy, for our reunion, and that they may see my candle glow – upon my lips.  A prayer that I have never forgotten, that they may always feel my love, that they may watch over Athena and visit her whenever they wish, and that they know I believe.  There are some nights, with eyes closed in prayer, that I can feel a distinct presence alongside me.  It does not always happen; it is often very quick and curiously difficult to explain.  I feel the space beside me become pressed, full, heavy.  Sometimes, my body tingles.  It is not a scary thing.  When someone comes to visit and place an arm around you, it is not frightening at all.

Yes, there remain connections for me timeless.  Eternal.  In this, I do believe.

I’ll be going to bed soon.  Tonight I will light another candle.  I will plant another flower.  And if you should ask why my garden is so beautiful, I will tell you only that the soil I use is rich with hope.

16 thoughts on “One year later and my garden does bloom

  1. Very touching. Beautiful writing as always.

  2. Paul D. Dail says:

    An amazing piece. Hit on many levels for me. As a father of a little girl, as the son of a father with Parkinson’s, and even as a writer. By it’s the more beautiful side of what I write. I’ve always believed in something else once we pass. Not sure what it is, but I’ve always felt there was something. Nice to find evidence that seems to support that. And in the eyes of a child. She has something special about her.

    1. Thank you, Paul. Yes, I’ll never truly know exactly what she sees…but I suppose that’s part of the mystery & magic. A blessed girl

  3. Blaze McRob says:

    Lovely story, as usual. So many times we lose sight of the important things in life. You haven’t. You never will.


    1. Thank you Blaze. You know, it’s the only thing that keeps me going

  4. Thanks for sharing, Joseph. That was equally sweet and curious.
    I’ll have to come around more often…


    1. Hi, James. Thank you. I really do try & spin my real life into as much a narrative tale as possible. Glad you enjoy.

  5. karasworld613 says:

    I love how you write about real life Joseph. We all go through things in our lives that are very hard to cope with and when we find things like your blog it always makes you realize that you are not alone. Death of loved ones is something that is so so hard to move past but some how we do it. There’s still not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my dad, and what he would think about my children and what’s going on in my life. I truly believe that AJ and your father are both there for you guys. THE LOVE NEVER DIES. There will always be certain things that pop up that make you realize that they are there, something so small can mean so much. Thank you so much for writing, your words help many know they are not alone.

    1. Thank you, Kara, I appreciate the kind words. Like I told another reader of my blog, I do try to spin my real life into a narrative tale as much as possible. I write horror fiction, as you know, but I don’t want to always “bore” people with my latest writing project. There’s only so much spin to that. Granted, I have some posts coming with some poems/songs/fiction to keep things fresh, but this blog is very therapeutic for me at times; also, I hope it’s something my daughter can look back on & enjoy. I’ve read your blog as well (left you a message, in fact), and yes, I believe that your dad is around you. Talk to him. Aloud. He may not answer in a way you expect. Bu he will listen. As you said, sometimes it’s not the big things you are looking for, but the small stuff beneath your very nose! =)

  6. blackalchemy says:

    This post, as well as your previous one, A Promise is A Promise, completely touched my heart. You also gave me a little bit of hope, and perhaps a willingness to believe, as well. Thank you so much for sharing this. Your writing is engaging and compelling. This blog is a pleasure to read.

    1. I appreciate the kind words, Hope. Without belief, you really have nothing. Glad to have you here =)

  7. Every time i read one of your Post Joe i love your writing even more….i believe that your daughter will feel very proud about her dad when she read all this your wrote for her and us 🙂
    I know you’re right… and our loved ones is here somewhere…. i just wish i could feel them too .I hope Athena never lose the connections she have with them.
    Your Blog is one of my favorite Joe…i will be very sad when i read all the Post and i have to wait for you to write the next one.

    1. Thank you Staury 🙂 I hope future posts won’t disappoint – you’re turning me into my own tough act to follow lol

  8. Just beautiful, Thank you for sharing this with the world, we all need to believe . . .some days more than others.

    1. Thanks Shannon…belief is often right in front of you. It’s just a matter of wanting to be open to it.

      I appreciate you visiting! 🙂

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