The waves kissed my feet. The sun’s youth painted my face red. Those sandy feet, those sand castles, somehow I could find their laughter afloat the sea, hear them splash water as the waves slashed the rocks ashore, feel the redness of their faces as the sun yawned and spilled the world with light. My dark world with light. Shedding light on that shelf of memories. It’s almost as though I could hear him call out, “Dad! Would you look at all these shells I collected?” or how he’d start building another sand castle as one got drowned by the enemy, by the Sea. How he’d race with me across the shores, get his tiny feet all sandy, his bright face ablaze, that twinkle in his eyes. That look of extreme happiness. Just one visit and they all come gushing back to me. Like how waves keep coming back to the shores. Like how you’d always find the sun smiling back at you every morning. All in one flash. Making me feel memory’s warmth as the cold wind brushed my face.
“I’m scared, Dad.”
“Don’t be. Everything’s going to be alright. I’m here by your side. Don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to you. No matter what. I promise, Artak. I promise.”
As we hugged, felt warmth in that chilly December night among-st all that snow, little did I know that that would be the last time I’d hug him. Last time I’d see those affectionate dimples of his. See that breathtaking calmness in those mesmerizing blue eyes. I didn’t know then. That those dangerously beautiful hills would leave deprive me of my family. That that would be the last time I’d feel his smile. Hear his laughter. I didn’t know.
I’d moved on in life. In those nineteen years, I’d learn to live by his rules, smile remembering him and his talks. Fulfill his dreams. Not moan over his loss but cherish his memories. I hadn’t let my fate break me. I’d let it make me stronger. I’d fought like he’d want me to..
As I sat there in the hospital, it all came back to me in a flash. My head started spinning. My pulse rate falling. I could feel myself going numb. Feel my body temperature going colder than that of the hospital. I remember how I’d first held my bundle of joy in this very sacred place. How I’d cried those tears of joy and sorrow. How I’d rejoiced and moaned at the same time. How I’d got the biggest happiness in my life at the cost of yet another loss. But I’d moved on. Again. For his sake. And now I was back here. Seven years later, I was back. Again. I remembered what my father had told me. He had a choice. That day, at the hilltop. He had a choice. To save me indeed, but to leave me behind with the greatest sorrow. I’d always wondered what made him chose the outcome. But he was the who had the choice. But as I saw my son lying there in the ICU, I knew then what. Why. And how come. My father’s action. His reason, they all made sense now. All of it. But I was helpless then. And I was helpless now. I wanted that choice. I wanted my son to sing, dance, succeed. To triumph in life. I wanted him to live his life.
But I didn’t have that choice. I wasn’t blessed with it like my father. I was meant to moan. I was meant to be tested. Again. My strength. My tolerance. They were to be tested. I knew I’d fail. I’d lost too many of them to win this time. There was no winning this time. I knew for sure. That I’d failed. That I’d let him down too. He’d fulfilled his promise. Somehow I couldn’t fulfill mine. I had the best dad in the world, but somehow I couldn’t be the same. I’d broken down. I was left crumbled. Shattered. Alone. I couldn’t make it. Live by his rules again. Smile remembering them. Cherish their memories. I couldn’t do that again. I couldn’t.
At sixty years of age today, I stand here by the shore. By the seas, the one who gives back all that he has taken. I stand here, pants folded, feet sandy, and face ablaze. I stand here cherishing their memories, smiling with every stab of pain knowing that they’d want me to do what I’m doing now. That they knew I wouldn’t fail. That they had faith in me. I’d won. Yet again. I’ve succeeded. Lived on. Moved on. But who knew then…