Dad always told me that the snowflakes that always fell during November were the tears of the world. The tears of women, men, children, and elderly. He always told me that the tears were always the same for everyone. It didn’t matter how old or how wealthy or what sex you were. The tears that seeped out the corners of your eyelids, the tears that dripped down your reddened cheeks. They were the same for everyone. Just like snow, it floated down, lingering at the cleft of your chin before falling down onto the ground. It was quiet. It was serene. It was bliss. But the special thing about tears was where it fell. Just like the snow, it can fall onto the ground, trod on by society. Or it can fall on the top of the Evergreen tree in the backyard, the branches sagging under the weight. Dad always told me that the snowflakes that always fell during November, that fell- by chance – on top of the Evergreen tree were the tears of children. Unlike the snow that fell on the ground, stamped on by snow boots or tossed to the side, brown with dirt, the snow on top of the Evergreen tree were always white. They were untouchable. Because they were held so high, and protected by the boughs of the Evergreen tree, nobody could touch them. Or disturb them. Nobody could twist them into obscene shapes. They were the tears of children, sparkling with a little light, sparkling with hope.
That’s why Dad always let me cry. He always waited until I was dried up, until the only thing I could do was wheeze, and squint my eyes from the sting of the Seven Seas. Then he would plop me down on his knee, voice gentle as he scolded me, finger wagging. After a few moments, Dad would allow me to get off, and we would continue the day with watching Disney movies. But every day, I would notice his eyes were shiny with tears. I would glance out the window, and see the snow.
A few years later, Dad had to leave to go to Afghanistan, just because the peace-keeping forces needed more people to keep the peace and to protect the people there. I stood next to my mom, her hand clutched around mine, her face broken. I felt broken too. Dad smiled- sadly – and knelt in front of me, strong hands placed gently over my shoulders. “Stay strong for Mom. I’ll be back in November. Not this November or the next. But a November.” He leaned forward, and pressed a loving kiss on my forehead, hugging me to his chest before standing up. He cupped Mom’s cheeks, and pressed his lips against hers sweetly, diamonds in the corner of his eyes. I looked away because this was their moment.
After Dad left, Mom started to cry, and I did too.
Time always drifted by slowly, like a snowflake, when you waited for someone you loved. It was a few years again, and I had grown. Both in mind, body and spirit. And my love for Dad never diminished. I could always remember singing those little solemn songs for soldiers, staring out the window, my breath fogging up the glass. It was November- those few years later – and I recalled my Dad’s promise. About him coming home.
And it came true.
in the worst way possible.
It was November and Mom called me down into the living room, and made me sit on the worn, leather couch. Mom was dressed in a black shirt, grey pants, and had gold bracelets that glittered in the fluorescent light. Her dainty hands were clasped together tightly, her lips tight. “This man came to tell us something.” She gestured to the man sitting in Dad’s leather seat. I pursed my lips and mentally screamed at him to get off. That was Dad’s. Not for you. It was for Dad. The battle-hardened man nodded, and turned his gaze onto me, his grey eyes soft with sympathy.
“Your Dad is dead.”
It was November and I was waiting in the bitter winds, my hair being tossed in the air. Mom held me tightly, and keened like a wounded animal, though quietly. When the soldiers carrying Dad’s coffin, draped with our magnificent flag walked by, all their faces solemn, some even teary-eyed, I started to tear up. I looked up to the sky, the clouds dark with remorse. Tears dripped down my face, staining my scarf. I turned and pressed my face into Mom’s stomach, wailing like a wounded animal. We followed, and attended the black funeral.
As the priest uttered the last words, and we said our last goodbyes, we were still crying. People offered their condolences, but I didn’t care. Dad kept and broke his promise. He said he was gonna come back. In November.
It was still November when we came back home in a daze. Mom retreated to her room, and I drifted to the living room where Dad’s smiling face was pictured. In a still moment where life was still good. Where the Evergreen still shimmered with snow. I picked up the photo, and noticed a piece of paper fall out of it, worn and weathered with age. I scanned the words, my hand flying to my mouth as the sea started to drip out of my eyes. My chest tightened, as I staggered to the window.
Dad always told me that the snowflakes that always fell during November were the tears of the world. I looked out the window, snowflakes floating down in shimmering white.
Dad always told me that the snowflakes that always fell during November were the tears of the world.
And the world was crying for him.