Recently, while reading the engrossing memoir of celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, the memory of my first visit in December 2001 at his Swedish restaurant Aquavit in New York City came rushing back. My father, Tatay as we called him, passed away early that year.
Tatay was born on Christmas Day, which meant that while growing up my two younger sisters’ December birthdays were always overshadowed by Tatay’s. Sometimes their birthdays were even forgotten because of the whirlwind of activities and preparation for Christmas. Starting in the late 90s, I took it upon myself to make up to my sisters for all those years of being the forgotten December-borns. Every second Wednesday in December, I took them for lunch in one of the top Manhattan restaurants followed by a Broadway matinee show.
On the second Wednesday of December 2001, as we were waiting at Aquavit for our lunch orders to be served, I told my sisters that I dreamt of Tatay the previous night. My sister Agnes then said, “I decorated the Christmas tree yesterday and I started crying because it reminded me of the Christmases when Tatay would help me decorate the tree.” Then my other sister, Norayda, added that there was not a day that she did not miss him.
Tears started welling in our eyes. As the waiter approached us with our beautifully plated dishes, torrents of tears started pouring out. The waiter was puzzled. We continued crying in silence over our gravlax, herring and Swedish meatballs. The silence was palpable but we knew that it was the only way we could grieve together, at least for a few moments.
Our sisters’ day-out ended happily, as it always did.
This post was inspired by The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Sound of Silence