Tonight is the last night of (C)Han(n)uk(k)a(h). As I will on every final night of this holiday from now on, I lit 10 candles. The 10th candle marks the anniversary of my father’s death. A whole year has passed since he died (well, according to the Jewish calendar; by the “regular” calendar, the one-year mark will be on December 24); a whole year of world events and personal occasions that I have not shared with my father. Birthdays. Holidays. So many life experiences. Donald Trump running for President (well, that might count on the lucky escapes side of the equation).
I miss seeing him and hearing his voice. But as I light candles on this holiday that celebrates miracles and light, I am acutely aware of the miracle of having him for my father. My father was a light bringer — wise, curious, always interested and interesting. Although usually quiet and self-effacing, he had the trick of drawing people to him because he knew how to listen. He made space and people poured themselves in. The thing is, that doesn’t really go away. He is still very much a presence in my life. Immediately after he died, all of us were gathered in his room and we didn’t leave. We stayed with him — gathered around him, telling stories, holding his hand, and feeling his presence. In fact, at one point, a technician came into the room and started talking to him and telling him he needed to draw blood. We laughed and laughed — all the more so because my father would have enjoyed the joke and laughed loudest of all.
My father’s light outlasts his physical presence, much as the oil lasted for 8 days — the miracle we celebrate on the holiday of Chanukah. I light the Chanukah candles and I light my father’s Yarzeit candle to celebrate miracles of light and of life. I remember and I am grateful.