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  • Im Soo Han

Believe in God Just in Case

My dad believed people who are religious were weak in character and needed someone or something more powerful than themselves to guide them. He was gregarious and proud and did not tolerate weakness. But he didn’t want to discount religion altogether, so the few times we had discussions about religion, my dad would tell me, “Believe in god, just in case.”

One time, when we were ages 6, 8 and 10, my dad wanted to perform an experiment on child rearing so he took us to church, but did not give us any context of the visit. He plopped my brothers and I on a pew and then left us when the service started. I remember the three of us completely frozen in place during the sermon afraid to move as the massive statute of a man nailed to a cross with a thorn crown on his head and blood dripping from his hands, feet and head, gazed at us with an angelic smile. Why we were there in the first instance was never explained to us other than mumblings of an opportunity to check to see if it stuck — it definitely did not stick.

But then shortly after my dad discovered that he had Stage 3 colon cancer, he started reading the Bible and visiting with local ministers. He fell deeply into faith. Although he may have been physically weak, I did not see a weakness in him with his born again faith; instead, I saw bravery and an amazing sense of certainty that he would be saved.

Five years before cancer consumed him were the most time I spent with him and the most honest he was with me. He told me that his greatest regret was not spending enough time with his kids. I internally had to agree with him. There were so many times growing up when I wished my dad would be around us more, just to be in his presence even if we didn’t do anything, but he had so many other things he felt he had to do, attend social clubs, join customers at the diner, anything else other than be at home.

During the last hour I spent with him, while his system was shutting down, I could have told him, “I love you.” I almost said it. But I could not get those words out; it was almost as if I was admitting defeat if I said those words out loud. Instead, as the entire family shuffled out of the hospital room, the only thing I said to him was “I’ll see you later” and we both laughed. Even though we may not have had the timely emotional break through as seen in dramas, I believe he appreciated those words because I did not show weakness.

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