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  • There is that ache, after a phone call ends with someone you haven’t seen for a while, someone you said goodbye to, a friend, a family member, a loved-one. There is always that ache, an emptiness in the silence that follows when you hang up. When you break a moment of connection, a moment of going through memories, of hearing a voice that still feels familiar yet becomes faint when the phone call is over.

    I used to feel that ache every time my father and I hung up on each other when he was in America and I in Tehran. I imagined him in a faraway land, in a big house, a vague idea of what defined America to us Iranians: a heaven.

    I still miss my father the way I missed him when I was eight. I remember the period of his absence as a mesh of tears; just the feelings of sadness are clear in my mind now. His empty seat at the table, and the absence of his daily office phone calls. I didn’t like his calls from America. His voice was too far away, too fuzzy, too distant, too hard to hear. We didn’t say much, but there was always a sense of hope that we would see each other soon. I don’t know if he believed it or said it to comfort me. But even though I didn’t like the calls, there was at least that little sign of hope for a reunion.

    When we hung up, it was over. He wouldn’t be walking in the door a few hours later. It changed everything, everything about life changed when my father left. He wasn’t there anymore. He was almost just a third-person character, away in a land of dreams. I didn’t know that my father was happier in America, that despite his time in the hospitals and surgeries, and his time away from us, he was happier. I guess no one told me.

    We are only states apart now. I am in New York, while he is in Virginia. But the ache is there, the emptiness, like when you look outside a moving train and see an endless, open field. A field that stretches beyond the gaze of your eyes, and you wonder what more there is. This is that ache of missing someone, a stretching wound, one that doesn't heal.
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