Today at Starbucks I found a man who might have been my father. He was too young by almost a decade, the wrong height, and his pale skin was more like mine than my father’s year-round tan. My father never would have ordered a white chocolate mocha, either. They did share the same shaved bald head, wire rimmed glasses, and bushy grey mustache under a strong roman nose, and his clothes could have been plucked from the stacks of sweaters and slacks my mother donated last year. The man’s big, self-deprecating show about having to pay for his friend’s drink because he’d lost a bet or owed him for something was what had caught my eye, and the way he joked with his friend and the barista was so much like my dad he may have been possessed.
I struggled with the idea that this man was my father and yet not him and forced myself to focus on the differences and the facts at hand to keep the impulse to run and hug this stranger at bay. Suddenly acutely aware that these ghosts are the closest we will ever get to seeing the people that we have lost walk among us, I wanted to follow him as he went about his day to see what else I would rediscover about my father.
Instead, I picked up my drinks and went home.