November 19, 1993 --11 years ago -- was the day my father passed away. I was living in Puerto Rico at the time, he in Miami, and he had gone in for some checkups a few days before. During the early morning hours of Nov. 19 he suffered a renal failure and died shortly thereafter (there is obviously more to it, but there's no reason to go into my Dad's medical history here). It was the worst news I had ever received, especially because a few days before, when my grandparents had flown to Miami to be with my dad at the hospital, I had had one of those gut premonitions that feel like punch to the stomach telling me to go with them; I didn't.
I had spent almost all of that summer with my Dad here in Miami and we'd have a great time. I flew back to P.R about a week before I was scheduled to originally because a girl, an ex-girlfriend, I hadn't seen in 3 years was in P.R. due to a death in the family (the irony kills me), and I had some unfinished business with her that I wanted to close once and for all (a story for another time). And so my Dad paid the extra fee so I could fly in earlier and see this girl; he was sad, and so was I, but hey, there was always Christmas! It wasn't to be. He had a funeral in Miami, and then his body was flown to Puerto Rico, where he's buried.
The really annoying thing about this whole deal is, as destroyed as I was by the death of my father, when I saw his body at the funeral, my sadness was alleviated by what I saw: my father had died with a smile on his face. An honest-to-God smile. During that summer, my Dad and I caught up with like 4 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on reruns, and he said to me one night that in Heaven, since we'd be free of the limitations of the body, we'd be able to visit all the corners of the Universe, just "beaming" from here to there without effort, all so we could see the wonders of God's creation. When I saw his smile, that conversation came to mind, and I understood. I got an image in my head of my father, dressed in a Federation uniform, just exploring the vastness of the Universe, and that made me smile in turn.
I didn't cry at this funeral, though I have cried for him many times after that (including as I type this). I can't say I understand why God decided that his time had come so soon; I needed him so much during the time of my wedding, and especially as I was contemplating my conversion to Judaism, though most of the time I simply needed him because I just needed my Dad. I just gotta trust that God did what was right, and that one day I will understand. Until then, Dad, beam on, cause one day I'll want the Grand Tour as well.
My Dad also taught me that happiness should always be held higher than sadness, and that when possible, a sad occasion should be followed by a joyous one, which is why it's no coincidence that Nov. 19 is also the day that my wife and I arrived in Ireland ready to begin our married life and enjoy our honeymoon.
Yvette & Danny at the Cliffs of Moher
Nov. 24, 2002
We had visited Europe the year before for a 35-day Grand Tour we named The Transfiguration Tour, but as much as we all wanted to go to Ireland, we just had to leave it off for another time. That "another time" was our honeymoon, and we enjoyed every single last second of it. Ireland is a country where myth and history are inseparable, truly one and the same. People may tell you that they pray to St. Brigit knowing full well she's a Christianization of the Celtic goddess Brigid, or that they don't believe in faeries, but don't piss them off because they are out there. The best thing about having gone to our honeymoon in Ireland is that now, Ireland will always be a part of our marriage; whenever we look back on those early days, Ireland is there for us, beckoning, waiting for us to go back to her.
You can check our online travel journal at Celtic Honeymoon, and follow our trip day by day, location by location. Trust me, you'll fall in love with Ireland as well.
So like I said, sad and happy day, this Nov. 19. But overall, it's a happy one. I know my Dad would want me to feel that way.