"You want to be an Oncologist don't you Mikaela?" he asked. "Yes dad, I do." "Well, when you go back to school use me as your guide to get there. Use this experience, my illness, and make it happen Dr. York."
-Dave York, June 2, 2016
I wish more than anything that you were here right now. I wish I could update you on life and hear your voice in reply. I'd give anything to hear you chastise me for not bringing a water bottle on road trips or asking me for the thousandth time if I used the bathroom before we left.
"Yes dad, I did... No dad, I don't need a water bottle to go to Food Lion..."
And while there are a million more things I could wish for right now, I'm not writing this letter to remind you of how sad I am that you're not here with me. Nor am I so selfish to forget that you're likely frustrated too.
For seven months, I've struggled to come up with the right words to say to you. In all honesty, I've struggled even more with allowing myself to even think about what I would say to you, fighting back tears each and every time I tried to start. I recently realized though, that what I have wanted to say was much simpler than I originally thought.
Thank you for teaching me how to forgive regardless of how bad a situation was. For calling me incessantly any time a hurricane threatened my path. For giving me boxes of Rice-a-Roni when you knew I was hungry. For sharing a love of mozzarella sticks with me.
For teaching me how to love food as you did and attempting to teach me how to cook even if I am my mother's child. For loving me even when I was angry with you. Even when I didn't return your texts or calls. For believing in me even when I stopped believing in myself.
You see dad, every time you looked at me and apologized for how weak you were or for changing hospitals again, I wished nothing more than for you to be a mind reader. I wish you could have seen how proud I was to be your daughter. To know that I wanted nothing more than to be just like you.
To brave the scariest "C" word and fight harder than any warrior I'd ever read about in books. To be as strong as you, the man who denied hospice care until TWO HOURS before you drew your last breath. The man who still sought out treatment options even when the number one cancer center in the country had nothing left to offer.
You taught me how precious and short life is
How we should cherish it and run with our arms spread wide, screaming with laughter and hanging on to every crashing current.
You taught me how to HOPE
To have faith no matter what the outcome might be. That we can live well beyond any prognosis we ever receive and to cherish every extra day we get because it was borrowed time after all.
You taught me the power of positivity
For I will never know a stronger or more dedicated man to walk this Earth than you.
Thank you for teaching me to never give up regardless of what life may throw my way. To walk even when doctors say it's no longer possible. To believe in myself regardless of how small I may feel some days.
Dad, you are the very reason I keep moving forward today. Why I began writing again, why I did so well last semester and why I have gained the most incredible surge of optimism that I will one day carry the title of M.D. after my name.
But it has nothing to do with your illness. You see, I don't need your cancer or suffering to get into medical school, nor do I need the pain of losing you.
Because I have the greatest tool of all, and that's knowing that even though you aren't here with me in person to watch me cross the stage for graduation, to walk me down the aisle if I someday get married or to cheer me on as I treat my very first patient, you will be in spirit.
I hope you know how much I miss you. How much I wish I could've bought those endless mozzarella sticks for you from Applebee's when you became cancer free, but instead I get to celebrate that you are no longer in pain. And I think in the end that is a much better outcome.
Thank you for loving me, for believing in me and most importantly, for becoming one of the greatest role models I never knew I needed. You are my hero.
I hope heaven is even more beautiful than I could ever imagine.
I love you forever and always,