Even while he was fading away, and any constants would disappear forever, he kept it up, this one constant: he’d put a bar of packaged halvah, and a Joya-brand jelly-candy bar, in three sugary layers (red, white, and orange), on his night table on Sunday mornings, for when we woke up and bounded in, jumping on the bed and landing between our parents. I have no memory of eating the halvah or candy; that wasn’t the point. The point was it was there. It could be counted on. He could be counted on for that.
Was it then that we’d lean our faces, one at a time, down into his face in the bed, and rub our cheeks against his, to feel the rough morning stubble? It was such a stark and always shocking contrast to soft skin against soft skin, another game, meant to be fun, and funny. I remember laughing, but I don’t remember why. When I think of it now, what I feel is thankful for my father’s openness to me and my brothers on Sunday mornings. I feel thankful for his openness to me and my soft face against his. I had forgotten to let it reverberate through the years of my life.