the father, the spirit, the holy ghost

I don’t want to forget about my Dad anymore. The dreams I have of him now are just a scent, a feeling. A lingering aura.

I used to dream of him in full physical form. His Ralph Lauren cologne, receding hairline and crow’s feet riddled smiles. I used to dream about running into his arms and the feeling of a Versace button up and sports coat wrapped around me.

Somebody asked me Why aren’t you over it yet?

My heart fades at the answer. Can you be over it?

I dated a boy once whose mother held the same sadness. The joy of being a father’s princess, and the desolation of having been a father’s princess.

She was in her fifties. A picture of her running into her father’s arms decorated the wall of her bedroom. He was brilliant, kind, so funny. A one-in-a-million man. She told me. A smile in her face and a broken heart in her eyes.

He had died forty years ago. His death propelled her into a millions-a-year career.

I wonder if people ask her Why aren’t you over it yet?

It seems like we create around us everything we desired to recreate the feeling of everything we once had.

If I close my eyes and cry enough my mind fills the room with the smell of his cologne and Marlboro-Colgate forehead kisses. My fingertips simulate the feeling of his designer silk shirts and Costco wifebeaters.

When pain comes, my father’s memory returns. My father’s arms reach within the sadness. In happiness there is often emptiness.

His death brought an angel to my corner.

People ask me if I believe in god. Some days there are just too many demons. Sometimes it is terrifying to be so loved.

I am stuffing my mind with new moments I feel like I don’t want to forget. The memories of my father don’t fight to be replaced. I can feel his crouched-down hug, his massive smile. The way he used to pat my head.

Life is meant for the living.

I can feel him kiss my hair. I can see his face as he walked me to my first Kindergarten class. His Heineken father’s belly, white wife beater, black-and-yellow Adidas track pants and slides. The gold and jade rings. Tan baseball cap. I remember the Camry keys in his hand. His wide smile. How badly I wanted to run back into his arms.

My hands gripping my purple Beauty-and-the-Beast backpack. Be strong. Have a lot of fun for me. You can’t cry.

I remember his hands on my arms. The forehead kisses. A daughter of Hao Van Vu can’t cry. I thought to myself. I sucked in my tears. Blew air into my cheeks to stop the sharpness in my eyes. He chuckled so proudly.

I puffed out my chest and walked into the procession.

I remember my father’s eyes. The sadness. The kindness. The deep browns.

I cry less for him every year. I know he smiles more for each lessened tear.

This is the journey of our past.

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