I normally post something about my Dad on Father’s Day, but this time I didn’t. I had the thought to share something, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to say. My dad has been gone for 16 years. That’s literally half of my life now. I’ve only known my dad for half of my life. I know there are some people out there who don’t even know who their parents are or have known them for a shorter period of time, and I couldn’t imagine. Bless those souls.
Knowing my dad the first 16 years of my life consisted of memories of him: fishing, jamming out on they keyboard, being silly and acting like a “cool kid”, having a calmer demeanor than my mother (sorry mom), and him telling me that if anyone made fun of me for who I am, I better stand up for myself. I remember that moment he told me. I was in 7th grade. I don’t remember the conversation that led up to it, but all I remember was him saying
“If people make fun of you, you stand up for yourself and fight.”
At the time, I took it as Dad meant that if someone wanted to fight me, don’t back down. You stand your ground. Well, my lil man syndrome sure got the best of me. I thought I was such tough shit back in the good ol’ West Valley days and I got into two physical fights. I felt like a badass. Sure, I got a bloody nose. Sure, the second fight I took off chasing the girl cause I wasn’t ready to “lose”. But Daddy ain’t raising no weak candy ass. I was standing my ground.
I was such a naive little child.
I’m sure he meant that in some sense, but now that I’m older. I interpret that advice so differently.
My dad was getting sick by the time I was late in my sophomore year of high school. He was always coughing and just laying around. He started to get really thin. I knew something was wrong. I begged for him to swallow his pride and go to the damn hospital. I got mad at him. I hid his cigarettes and told him this is why he is sick, even though I didn’t know the real reason.
*I was kind of an asshole little kid. I talked back to my parents and acted like I knew everything because I was born in America. No wonder my grandma gave me such a hard time back then.
I came home one day from a church activity and my parents car was gone. I didn’t even have to ask. I knew. Grandma came outside with tears in her eyes and told me that they went to take Dad to the ER. The moment I saw my dad in the hospital bed, I knew. Dad was really sick. Dad had leukemia.
For the next couple of months, my life was a blur. I wasn’t present. I was trying to escape the reality. I would skip school to hang out with Dad and Mom at the hospital. On the rare occasion I would show up to school, my teachers had compassion for me and allowed me to zone out. (I look back at this and I’m so thankful for that. I never realized how much they helped me. Thank you Teachers.) I had to try to understand, why God was letting this happen to me. Why me? I was so selfish. All I could think about was me at the time. I was just starting high school and then this happens! Didn’t God know that I couldn’t deal with this? Not right now. Not during some of the most “important” years of my life! I was mad.
Dad came home and was now in hospice care. That’s when the nursed pulled us aside and gave us the brochures on how to deal with death. I remember being so engrossed in the booklet, I kind of went mental. I was reading on the signs and cues of when death is nearing. I would keep an eye on my dad and see if it was happening. I would hold my finger under his nose to see if he was breathing. I would wake him up from his naps to make sure he was still here, and he’d get so mad. (Asshole, I’m telling ya) I needed to be ready so that I could help my mom and sister. I tried to understand so that I could be ready.
No booklet will ever prepare you.
I remember the moment so clearly. The night before my best friend, Tosy, called me to ask if I thought I would make it to school tomorrow.
“No. I feel like I should stay home”, I replied. My instincts were right.
That morning Mom woke my sister, grandma, and I up. It was happening. We all went into my parents bedroom and Dad was there, but he was on his way out. I went through the checklist from the booklet and it was all happening. This was real life. I held Dad’s hand and looked at his eyes. He wasn’t fully there. He was mumbling something and my first thought was,
Dear God, please be the one he sees and is there for him. Please comfort him. Please. PLEASE. Please let him suffer no more.
He took his last breath and he was gone.
In that moment, I looked around the room and I saw the pain on my moms face. The pain. She had lost her love. She was alone. My heart broke for my mom. Suddenly, I was out of my emotions and in my moms. How could I have been so selfish? Dad’s sickness wasn’t just my misery I had to deal with, it was my family’s. I never felt so much sorrow for another person until that moment. I told myself at that moment that my life goal was to take care of my family. Help others when they are down and need it. Help people. Life isn’t about me.
It took a couple of years and some mental breakdowns for me to appreciate just how amazing of a blessing this situation has been. My Dad, even though has only been with me for half of my life, is still teaching me. I talk to Dad all the time like he’s here. Because I feel like he is. I ask him what I need to do, what he would want me to do, and that I love him. Dad has taught me to give more love and value to those in my life, because life is unexpected. His leaving this earth allowed me to see the world in a different perspective. Life isn’t just happening to you, it’s happening to all of us. How selfish I have been in looking through just my eyes. Dad has shown me that while life can be short, it’s the impact that you leave on those around you. I look at my Dad’s impact and I feel so grateful that I had him in my life.
I really think now that Dad’s words of wisdom meant that I should do what I want to, follow my passions, live my life to the fullest. If people don’t agree or think less of me, to stand my belief. Stand up for what truths and values I believe.
Putting myself out here, my thoughts and emotions, has been hard. Fear is the biggest challenge I have had. But, if I am to honor my Dad, I must stand up for myself. I love writing. I love to share my ideas. I love to hear other’s stories. I want to be able to have a place where people can do that while feeling no judgment. This blog is a way I can do that. I am also starting a new adventure with my friends by starting a YouTube channel with the same intentions. There will be haters, that’s life. But if I stand up for myself and have the belief of helping others, I think Dad would be proud. I know he would be.