As I count down the waning hours of 2013 I can’t recall a New Year’s Day without my father. For the last 13 years, he joined us for every New Year’s Eve as well. Each New Year’s Eve, the phone would ring:
Jin. It's thy favorite father.
Um, dad. You are my only father.
Well even if you had others, I'd still be your favorite. So when are you coming by?
I liked that about my father. He was secure in his place with me; sure of my affection. He was certain of everyone’s affection. It never occurred to him that he wasn’t universally loved. He was genuinely surprised the handful of times he found out otherwise. Truth is, most people did like him. Once he flashed his infectious grin, he could get away with almost anything. I miss my adventures with him. And yes, I suspect even presented with other fathers, he'd still be my favorite.
He won’t join me this New Year’s Eve, of course. For that reason, I am reluctant to close the door on 2013. 2014 starts a year in which he doesn’t exist. It marks the first full year he isn’t part of my life. I am not ready to put him squarely in the past. I want to linger in 2013 a little longer where I can still find him. Where I can still reach out my hand and almost touch him.
I am afraid if I stray too far from 2013 the sound of his laugh will grow too soft. I won’t hear the lilt in his voice as he calls out, “Jin!” I won’t be able to conjure up his smile. The image of his sturdy hands, the hands I studied thousands of times, will grow dim. I will forget which finger bore the scare from an old construction accident. I will loose my optimism without his steady presence. I am reluctant to enter a world without him.
But there it is. The future sits as it always has, squarely before me. The countdown continues, picking up greater and greater speed. I hear my father’s clear voice, telling me, “Jin, what comes, comes. You can't stop tomorrow from coming.”
But I won't let him go. I will etch it all in my mind. I will carry his laughter in my heart. I will take his well-loved ancients with me. I will carry him with me however far I travel. I will begin tomorrow with his smile.
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