She opened the front door, feeling the cool air-conditioned air sweeping out before catching the aroma of cinnamon apple pies. She heard the silence, felt all the eyes in the room focusing on her, heads swiveling to catch a glimpse of John’s baby-girl-come-home. She self-consciously swiped at an imaginary loose strand of hair on her face. She smiled, blushing at the scene, at the silence, at the smell of pie.
There was no eruption, no triumphant hoo-rah exclaimed. Just the sighs of relief and the sounds of smiles, like parents watching their children play contentedly at the park, smiling and peaceful and real.
She knew this party was for her, and knew that it wasn’t really about her at all. It was about her father. He’d assembled the masses, and they had gathered around for his special news. She had missed that the most, the way he seemed to draw folks to himself. She felt warm, loved and welcomed by this overflow of love coming from friends gathering ’round.
And she began to wonder why she had ever left.