April 21, 2017 is when everything changed. For me, it was a day that I had hoped wouldn’t happen for many more years. It was the day I lost the greatest man I ever knew. My father died from stage four liver cancer that came on very quickly in a matter of seven months. Since then, it has been an internal struggle to go through life without him.
I have some good days when I don’t think about it. But when I do, everything comes to a grinding halt because I remember he is not around anymore for me to share what is going on in my life. I understand dying is a natural part of life; I made peace with that reality some time ago. Over the years, you start losing family members like aunts and uncles and grandparents. When you lose a parent, no matter how old you are, there is no way to make peace with that.
I guess this is the part where I describe what kind of man my dad was. He was a gentleman through and through. Every person he met, he always greeted with a handshake and always had something nice to say. He was very smart, having been retired as a water engineer, an Air Force pilot, and a hospital emergency room technician, among other jobs. Most of all, he was a family man. He treated my mother like royalty up until the day he died and taught my brother and me so much. To simply say “thank you” would come nowhere close to justice.
It is because of this man that I have a voice. My dad was also an active member of the community, having served on different committees and volunteered his time to the local public services to whom gave lectures and speeches. How I got to be so involved in school academically and extracurricularly, and eager to help others is all due to his raising me to be as selfless and moral as he was. I really would not be who I am in front of this computer if it was not for him.
With the anniversary of his death today, I am reminded of everything he will not get to see me do: get into graduate school, my first adult job, marriage, his grandchildren. The one thing he wanted to see before he died was me graduating from college next month and he will never get to do that.
People tell me “he’s there in spirit” and “he is watching all the time.” Just for that moment, it puts me at ease, but not for long. The fact that he is not here physically seeing his son grow into a man just like him does not come anywhere close to the comfort those words try to do for me. I am lucky to have had a father who was always around from my first days of school to take me to toy stores as a kid to giving me advice as I began adulthood. Now that he is gone, coming home to talk about my day is not the same. I am 22 years old, and I still need my dad.