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"Wishing You Were Returning Home Again"

It was Christmas 2002. I was excited to be home with the family after a very long semester at college. As usual, Dad and Mom went out of their way to make the holiday extra special. From preparing special foods to decorating the house, they always topped the year before. Whenever I was home, I felt like a kid. I had butterflies in my stomach because I got to spend time with my entire family. Even admist the holiday madness, I had time with my dad, mom, and my brothers. There was so much laughter and joy that it was hard to not be excited even if it didn't feel like Christmas. No matter what was going on with work, school, or other external factors, nothing was more meaningful to me than spending my Christmas holiday with my family.

In addition to the overall excitement, we had snow which made everything look like a winter wonderland. Growing up, we were only one of three homes on our street. So directly across our home, one could see a forested/wooded area. During the summer season, my brothers and I would play "army" and there was plenty of land to hide or seek. But then, during the winter seasons, whenever it snowed, we would go into the woods and sleigh ride because there were plenty of inclines and trails to slide down. A young child couldn't ask for much more. We could dream of different worlds and be whoever we wanted to be. Come to think of it, maybe this is one of the reasons why I love the outdoors today: I not only got to be outside but also it allowed me to imagine and dream.

Whenever it snowed and I was home from college, Dad and I would head outside to shovel our driveway. We shared how great it was that all of us could be home together. And even though we were shoveling snow, you could still find that little boy within me looking up to his father and enjoying every moment with him.

Our family dog (Kole) always wanted to be in the midst of all the action also. If we left him inside, he certainly let us know his displeasure. Thus, mom would let him out to be with us. He would run through the snow just like a child waiting to play with his friends. Dad and I would chuckle how he was so much a part of our family.

With the photo you see above, I remember stopping to take this picture. Although you cannot see the details of Kole's body, his dark coat contrasted well against the white snow. But the image had an even greater appeal to me. Often I would find Kole outside looking and waiting for my father to return from work. This was such a common experience. So instead of seeing him facing me, he would often be found with his body facing the opposite direction.

Today, this image has even more meaning for me. This image captures what I believe we all feel inside - that dad could return home. As strange as it may seem, I believe Kole misses my father more than we really understand. I find him often sitting in places where only my father used to once lay and I still catch him outside waiting by the stoop for his master's return, even when the weather is bad.

I feel that same way. I miss my father more today than the day he passed. Perhaps this only comes in recognizing the uniqueness of the man my dad was to me and my family. Although I know he won't ever be coming home again, there is that small part of me that patiently waits and wishes I could see him walk up our driveway again.