Growing up in a highly religious family, I was a young naïve boy. Every night, we read the Bible and prayed for God’s protection. I was extremely sensitive, so you could say I had a sixth sense. During these years, my father and I were not very close. I was a puber while I was growing up, and in many ways, our beliefs and opinions were opposed.
He was driven by a great desire to succeed. He had a terrific career as the CEO of a huge worldwide oil firm, and he was successful. When you saw him, he had a lot of charm, and he was noticeable when he went into a room. On weekends, he always said “hi” to every stranger and had a conversation with every neighbor. I adored that man, but for some reason, we didn’t grow closer; instead, we drifted away for reasons I’m still baffled by. I simply had views and objectives for my own life, which he could not accept for some reason.
I was sitting in the classroom one day. I was about 15 years old at the time, and I believe one of my classmates, Petra, was missing from class. Petra hadn’t attended school in a long time because her father had died, according to some of the teachers who entered the classroom. I felt uncomfortable when I heard the teacher deliver the message, and I had a strong feeling that I would be the next child to lose his father. I didn’t know why I had this feeling or whether it was true, but it lingered in my mind.
Years later, after growing up and leaving the military, I rented an apartment close to my parents’ house. Both my parents and I agreed that I should have lived on my own. When I awoke on Saturday morning, it was on a Saturday morning. My partner stayed at home at the moment, while I went shopping outdoors. I was looking forward to the upcoming evening because my sisters and their boyfriends were planning to go out, and my girlfriend and I were planning to go out together.
We had a long night of partying, dancing, and talking, and we got home at 3 a.m. Before returning to my flat with my girlfriend, I dropped my sister’s home. I walked up feeling good about the night we had all had together. I went to brush my teeth in the bathroom. Then, all of a sudden, I began to feel quite weak. It felt as if all of my blood had vanished. When I looked in the mirror, I was deathly pale and felt odd. I began to sweat and, unsure of what had happened to me, grabbed both sides of the fountain to keep from falling to the earth.
It just took a few seconds, but it took minutes in my experience. It came and went as quickly as it arrived, and after that, the phone rang abruptly and unexpectedly. Who would call at that hour of the night?
When my girlfriend answered the phone, she stated it was my younger sister on the other end. I said “yes” despite my fear and the fact that my heart was still hammering from the previous event. My younger sister said to me, “Papa is gone.” I felt disoriented as the sound resonated. Those three words hit me like a ton of bricks. Those three words smacked me across the face like a kilo of bricks.
My brain connected my father’s untimely death to the strange experience I was having, even though I couldn’t explain it. I hung up the phone and yelled in terror to my girlfriend. “My father died,” I said as I dashed down the stairwell to the ground floor.
I was just 21 years old at the time, and I was having the worst day of my life. My entire life had been turned upside down, and I was a complete wreck. Back at home, I drove as fast as I could in my little Honda civic from the 1960s. When the door opened, I dashed up three flights of stairs at once, hoping to change that horrible moment and bring him back to life. I couldn’t change the moment no matter how hard I tried. His spirit had vanished, along with his memories and frustrations. My mother and sisters, as well as me as the lone man in the house, smoked packs of cigarettes all night until it was time to phone and alert the family. It was one of the most painful and heartbreaking phone conversations I’ve ever made, and I must say that my mother handled it better than I did.
We didn’t want to wake people up because they couldn’t accomplish anything in the first place. The doctor and the personnel who took my father’s body out of the house arrived late at night. Then he got into the rear of that big black Ford and drove away. Everything took place in the dark, so no one in the neighborhood had to witness it. What mattered, according to my mother, was the neighborhood’s memory of my father.
With all of these encounters, I was terrified of death, especially when it came suddenly and unexpectedly, as it did in just one or two seconds. And in the years that followed, I was terrified. Three more people I cared about died unexpectedly within the same year. My fear grew as they approached their twenties.
As the years passed, I gained more control over my fears. My girlfriend and I got into a conflict after she informed me later that my father had come by that morning, the day he died, while I was out shopping and she stayed in the apartment. She didn’t want to answer the door and let him leave because she was too lazy. That was probably the only time he made contact with me as if he needed to clarify something. It was the first time he had visited my home. During that time, I could never forgive her for it. That was so self-centered, I thought.
I bought a new house and rebuilt it several years later. Because the house had a floating ceiling, there was a reinforcing pillar in the middle that went right through the center of the ceiling to hold the roof. There was also a window on the roof.
Each night, while I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling, one light shone as thick as a pillar horizontally on the real pillar, creating a massive cross in my room. To begin with, I thought it was a coincidence, but even after so many nights of peeking out the window and even when the moon was covered behind the clouds, the light appeared and formed a strong cross. It may sound strange, but it is true.
I was lying in bed one night and fell asleep. I had a dream that felt quite real to me. I was walking through a forest or along a dune when my father appeared beside me. We walked and chatted as we’d never walked and talked before. We were holding hands and it felt so cozy and secure. I was ecstatic and content with this moment, which felt so real and not at all like a dream. My father questioned about my well-being. He expressed regret for what had unfolded to us and for his abrupt departure. He told me that he hoped and prayed the best for all of us and that I should know that he was always willing to help and support us. We merely needed to reach out and ask him a question, and the answers would appear when we least expect them.
I didn’t know what time it was, didn’t feel stressed or worried, and wasn’t tired at all. I felt calm, warm on the inside, and overjoyed. We took a stroll together on the beach, a place that my father adored. He’d always wanted to be a captain at sea, but his parents wouldn’t let him.
The light was dazzling. Time seemed to drag on for hours, but it flew by. I’m not sure if it was because of the sunset, but my father insisted that I return. I told him, “Dad, I don’t want to go back. I’d like to stay for a while. I’d like to stay with you.” He said, “My beloved son, it is not yet your time.” You only have so much time on this planet, and you must return to complete the task at hand.” I cried because the tears in my eyes were scorching. It felt like old tears that had never flown since his untimely demise. My heart was in excruciating pain. We hugged and kissed each other, and I felt incredibly grateful. I felt powerful and as though I could take on the world.
Then the memory vanished. I awoke in a pool of tears. The sensations of that moment lingered for days. My pillow was entirely soaked, and I was so taken aback by what had transpired that night that I felt for the first time in my life that he hadn’t abandoned me. I knew there was more to our life than we know and/or want to accept. This one-night dream or event was brief, yet it has remained with me throughout my life, and I recall it vividly even after thirty years.
I realized that despite our life’s hardships and the things we grumble about, these conditions are not worth it. It’s how we handle these situations, what we learn from them, and what we take away from them that matters. If you can see the large picture rather than focusing on the small details, you will notice that a better world will become available to you.
I never had the opportunity to get to know my father as a man, and he never had the opportunity to get to know me as a son and educate me on how to be a man in this world. I had to learn every step of the way. Every other step of the way, I had to learn, battle, and figure things out on my own. I work hard, fail miserably, and then get back up and try again until I succeed.
That is not at all negative, but what is crucial is that as fathers and even mothers, we must continue to communicate and teach our children as much as possible so that they are equipped to stand with quality in this world. No matter how young your children are, teach them as much as you can and prepare them for the future because we never know when that unexpected time will be our ultimate departure from this world.