It was 5 years ago. My father and I were packing our bags to spend the weekend in the mountains for our annual camping trip. At that time my father and I had a shaky relationship, and it was my mother’s idea to use the trip to try to patch things up. We got into a fight earlier that month about my decision to go into the army and my father wasn’t having any of it. “You need to stay here and tend the farm! I’m not getting any younger.” he blatantly said. “I am not going to be stuck in this damn farm and feeding stupid animals. I want to actually do something with my life, to be more than just a useless farmer!” I shouted not realizing how stupid and ignorant I sounded. “You think I think I am useless? I work hard to feed both of you, to cloth both of you, to pay for this damn house to shelter both of you and yet you call me useless! FINE! See if I care. Go and fight this useless war!” He shouted and turned his back to me. That was the first time I had ever seen him so angry and disappointed in me, but I didn’t care. I was so angry that I ripped the coin necklace that me gave me when I was a baby and threw it to the ground next to his feet. He looked down, clenching his hands into fists as if preparing for a boxing match with his own son. I ran out of the house and didn’t come back for a week.
We were climbing up towards the first cliff of the mountain, not really saying much to each other. I was ahead of him and as I looked down, he was starting to catch up, so I got a bit cocky and tried to climb even faster, not focusing on the stability of the cavities I was placing myself in. I placed my right foot on what seemed like a small foothold and felt the rock give way. The weight of my body was too much for my hands and I felt myself slipping, my heart pounding out of my chest, and my body flailing like a bird with a broken wing. Immediately I thought, “That’s it. I’m going to die.” I closed my eyes accepting my last doom until I felt a sudden grab of my hand. I opened my eyes and saw my father. He somehow caught my arm and was able to hold on. I told him to let go, knowing he wouldn’t be able to withstand both of our weight. “I am not going to let my son die like this.” He yelled at me. I looked down and saw the jagged rocks expecting gravity to greet me there. I swung my other arm and held on to his hand. I couldn’t reach the rock face in front of me and I was left dangling.
I could tell my father’s hands were slipping on both ends. He started to cry knowing he wouldn’t be able to hold on to me much longer. “I love you son. Please forgive me.” he told me in a forced breath. I looked up, never seeing such a vulnerable expression on my father’s face. All I could think was,”So this is what it took to see this side of you.” I smiled at him with tears running down face, and he let go. I closed my eyes and suddenly felt the cold wind rush through my whole body, feeling nothing but emptiness behind me. You know that cliche, where life flashes before your eyes, well for me, it didn’t happen. Instead I saw my mother, my father, and my younger sister waving me goodbye. I reached out, crying, wanting to say sorry to the man I owed everything to, then everything went blank.
It felt warm. Like a comfortable blanket was placed over me. I felt someone gently grabbing my hands and thought God was pulling me towards him. I had never felt this comfortable before and for a second I didn’t want to leave. Then I heard a distant voice call out. “Son, answer me. Wake up!” I couldn’t figure who it was. “Please, don’t let go!” The voice got louder, more coarse as if screaming through tears. I felt my body being lifted into a tight embrace. “Please forgive me. I’m so sorry for everything. I love you so much!” He screamed. I realized it was my father holding me, confessing to me, loving me. “Dad. I’m sorry.” was all I could muster. He cradled my head like a newborn baby and stared at me through his red swollen eyes. He quickly laid me back down to keep my head erect. He held my hand and wiped the blood from my face until a couple of hikers found us and helped us to safety.
In the hospital, he tied the coin necklace that I had thrown on the ground and kissed me on the forehead. “No matter what, I will always be proud of you.” He said to me. Not once did I really think about that necklace as anything special, until that day. I realized then that one item can represent how much I was loved in this world.