The phone rings at 10, twenty-third of June.
“His blood pressure’s dropping. Come see him soon.”
I take a deep breath and try not to cry.
I look up to the sky and ask God, “Why?”
I shut the door and head to the hospice.
My thoughts run wild, unfiltered in my mind:
“No therapy worked, drug of any kind…
They were all useless; he is still dying.
What was the point of trying anything?
How does it feel to watch your father die?”
I close my eyes and start praying to God.
I know it’s too late but it’s all I’ve got.
It’s no use praying for you to stay.
It’s not what you wanted anyway.
So I ask God to take you to heaven.
I open my eyes to look at your face,
And think about how we got to this place.
You start to moan and we turn to listen.
Every sound, beyond our comprehension.
Is it pain or something you want to say?
“It’s ok, Dad. We know. We love you too.
Though you can’t say it, we know it is true.
God’s waiting for you, where angels will bow!
You can go peacefully to heaven now!
Though we’ll miss you, we’ll see you again soon!”
I woke up this morning and these three words, ‘Happy Father’s Day!’ came into my head. Then I thought, there’s nothing happy about spending a Father’s Day without your father present. Did anyone ever think about how insensitive this greeting is to people who have lost their fathers? What should you say instead? Well, it is unlikely anyone would come up to me to wish me a Happy Father’s Day, so this, I quickly realised, was a really stupid question. But to those people who have lost fathers, hearing those words said to someone else feels like a thorn has pierced through your heart.
On my way to church, a thoughtful friend had actually sent me a message saying, “Thinking of you on this Father’s Day.” I had no strong emotions when I read those words but I did feel acknowledged by it, that someone remembered that I had lost my father and that it would be a tough day for me. I immediately felt more peaceful and less irritated by the happy families around me. These kinds of friends, who genuinely care, remember these occasions and take the time to reach out, are rare – she was the only one the whole day.
For those who have lost their fathers, sometimes it will be tough to get through a day like this because you think people have forgotten or are insensitive about your feelings. It may seem like those words ‘Thinking of you…’ have little meaning but it could make a huge difference. If you know someone who has lost their father, let them know you remember. It just takes one to turn that day around.
To all the fathers out there: Happy Father’s Day!
To those who have lost their fathers: Thinking of you on this Father’s Day!
Your hands feel cold and soft, I hold them, tight.
Your breathing slows, each breath inhaled, a fight.
Always assuming we’d have tomorrow.
Our days numbered; today ends in sorrow.
I sit in silence, still. Watching. Waiting.
The moment I dreaded is approaching.
Seconds ticking so slowly, yet so fast.
Precious moments slip away, they won’t last.
I keep waiting and watching and hoping…
Nothing has felt this excruciating.
I will never ever forget that day.
Your hands so cold and soft, completely still.
I held your hands, begged God to let you stay.
It was only your prayer God could fulfill.
I knew that time would come, though not that soon.
I don’t even know how to describe this past year. It felt like it was the longest and also the shortest year. It was one of the worst and also one of the best years of my life. For the first six months, I felt a deep uncertainty, pain, and hopelessness in my heart; not knowing how long my dad would be here. And for the last six months, emptiness and sadness were added to the list, and every emotion in between, after he was taken to heaven. There isn’t a word that can even describe how I have been feeling and how I feel now. Since he’s been gone, I would wake up every morning missing him and holding back the tears. Some days, I just wanted to lie in bed and stay there all day. But I know that he would not want me to waste the precious time I have crying about something that cannot be changed. After a while, I started to see him smiling at me and I could hear him say ‘I’m so proud of you!’ He had never once told me my hopes and dreams were silly or impossible before. He had never doubted me or told me I couldn’t do whatever I wanted. I think back to the day I made the crazy, life-changing decision to take a year-long break, three weeks after he was gone. I felt that he was telling me, ‘Do it! Don’t be scared! I support you!’ And I did it! And I wasn’t scared! And he supported me – 100%, just as he had promised! And it was the best decision I’ve ever made! I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I don’t regret a single moment since that day.
Even though I do stay in bed a little longer than before, I get up eventually and do the things that make me happy. I write. I read. I draw. I think. I pray. I travel. I take pictures. I wonder. I try new things. I laugh. I care about myself. And I don’t care about what people think. I still don’t really know what my future will be like but I like where I am now, in the present. I still have so much I want to do and see and experience. I am not going to make any more excuses for myself. The things I’ve experienced so far have been incredible and I can’t wait to have more adventures and try new things. You’ve brought me to life, Daddy! I know you’d be so proud of me right now!