I stayed up late last night watching Pacific Rim with my nephew and my mother. We slid into 2014 before I even realized it. Exactly one year ago on this night, I was watching Star Trek movies and drinking beer with my father....in the very same living room at my parents' house.
New Year's Eve never meant that much to me. I was never a big late-night party person. I don't sleep well in strange places. I don't like being cold. I don't like taking taxis and I hate wearing heels. The best New Year's party I ever attended was on the roof of my dorm in Huntsville, Alabama many years ago. It was probably 1996-1997, and I really don't remember how we managed to get up on the roof. But I do remember tons of very happy young people being up there. A fairly large percentage of us were ROTC cadets. We were excited. We were having fun. Some people were shooting off bottle rockets. We knew we would get in trouble soon. But we didn't. No one told on us. We were all college kids in the middle of campus screaming on our rooftop. We forgot for a moment how uncertain all of our futures were. My constant state of panic subsided for a bit while I shared in the joy of bringing in a brand new year.
A few days ago, one of my most beloved friends and I were scrambling through a large graveyard in the dark. We were looking for my father's grave, and the sun had slipped away on us. I think it is unlawful to be in a graveyard after dark. But we didn't live in that state and we didn't have much time. And we certainly weren't there to vandalize anything.
We found Konrad Dannenberg's grave by accident, and I know my father would have been pleased to find out he had been buried so close to one of the original Von Braun German rocket scientists. It was mere coincidence, of course, and just one of the many things I wish I could tell him.
We found my Dad's grave and left soon after. And thankfully, no one told on us.