A father is the one who guides his daughter through life, and now even in death you are guiding me. You are constantly showing me that love never dies. You speak to me through feathers, music and if I listen closely I can still hear your sweet voice.Your death has been a mysterious doorway with so much painful grieving for me. Heartache that I never knew was possible and mysterious because I never know how or when that door is going to open and pull me in.
Just the other day, me and mama Junior thought about you and she kept on insisting that you should be alive to see how far I’ve come in life. We thought about your laughter and what you would be saying to us and we came to the horrifying realisation to remember what it sounds like. I just don’t remember listening to that voice for a very long time. I felt paralysed with this shame and disbelief, as if I couldn’t recognise my own face.
When I was young you told me we grieve for ourselves because the deceased are in a better place. As a woman, I know that is true, but I still miss you terribly. For years I watched you endure horrific pain. I prayed and pleaded with God to heal you. Towards the end of your life I was so angry that my prayers were not answered. You were not supposed to die unable to eat in your last moments, I had to call to beg you to just eat something; it seemed like such a cruel death sentence for such a good man.
When you died my grief had become so overwhelming and suffocating that on numerous occasions I was convinced that I too was dying. My heart was so heavy and the pain was unbearable. You played a major role in my life and now you were gone. For my entire existence we spoke every single day, even when I was away in college. That’s several years of saying “I love you”, years of being a Daddy’s girl, years of feeling safe, unconditional love. And now just like that you were gone. Going back home has proven to be very difficult since you would wait for me until I arrive home safely when I would be travelling at night to come home, you would sleep in a chair waiting for me while a hot cup of tea is waiting for me.
I closed my eyes, tried to quiet the rest of the world. I took a deep breath. I saw your smile. This imperfection in my smile that reminds me of you. But I couldn’t hear your laugh. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hear it, Dad. I tried, I really did. I feel like it’s not so much to ask that I just hear it once more. Just once.
That’s the funny thing about death: just how alive it really is. The way it can sneak up on you. Playing Heads Up, touching you without knowing it was coming. Death slips into moments it should have no part in. Every grand moment is a reminder of the loss. The empty seat. The empty space. The hollow smile. Death should not be in the ceremony, but there it is, waving to me. I don’t want Death to follow me like this shadow, I did not ask for. I want to remember you. Your laugh, your arms. Your love. I do not want to remember the Death.
I was mad at you for the first 6 months following your death. I knew it was irrational, but your words on our last phone call played on a loop in my memory. “I will not let go. I will keep fighting. Keep praying hard nyadam and come home over the weekend to see me since we have a lot to talk about.” I know that wasn’t a promise your body was capable of making, and I forgive you. I hope you forgive me for being selfish. The times I cursed you for having cancer. Why? Why my dad? My wonderful, empathetic, the strongest man in the world, silly dad?
It never made sense to me. But it never will. Not everything happens for a reason, and I’ve learned that is something I must accept.