I always felt a deep lump in my throat and tears behind my eyes every time my father would wrapped his arms around me, and gently said, “Don’t let my illness paralyze you from living.”
For five hurtful years, three times a week, my father went through the artificial process of eliminating diffusion and ultrafiltration from his blood. For five years, I woke up every morning thinking about him, and hoping that when I’d call my mother; my father would still be alive. For five years, my heart refused to admit my father would not be here for long.
Dishearteningly stuttering, she informed me that my father was hit by a train, and was immediately hospitalized. When I arrived to the hospital, I ran to my mother’s arms, feeling despondently destroyed, I abjured to see my father unconscious. I stood beside his bed, holding his swollen hand, hoping he would hear every word I was saying, but his silence and heavy breathing emotionally eradicated the immensity of the hope I had to see him opening his beautiful green eyes, and hear him say one more time, “Don’t let my illness paralyze you from living.”
On the fourth night, my father’s body began rejecting the antibiotics, and his weakened immune system provoked the development of a severe blood infection called sepsis.
My father’s health was deteriorating. I felt shut down and indescribably broken. I felt the world devouring me into the flames of my faith, and leaving nothing but ashes behind.
On April 12, 2014, at 3:34 a.m., I stood next to my father, weeping heavily, I watched the flatlines on the ICU monitor, taking a deep, gargantuan breath, and closed his eyes.
I stared at him, admiring the massive braveness he showed in life, but tell me what would you do when a 20 year old girl watches his father die of a cardiopulmonary failure?
A whole part of you wants to die, because it is natural to beg God for his life. It’s natural to have hatred for life at that moment, and even stop believing that there is a God.
We remember meaningful details about them like the way they would put a sentence together, their scent, or their passions. We try and recollect the beautiful curve of their mouth when they smiled or the sound of their voice. But, then…death robs you of these beautiful details leaving only memories behind.
I carry a picture of my father with me everywhere I go. When I stare at it, I remember a man of value, wisdom, character, a caring friend, a selfless father. A happy man who loved horses, music and wine.
Nothing could ever change me like losing my father, and looking into his beautiful green eyes for the last time.
Countless nights I’d hide inside my blankets, clenching my teeth, and biting my lips so no one could hear the melancholic sounds of my bereavement. I ran to isolated roads, and somberly break down.
Then, I remembered I had a mom. How could I ever allow myself to break away from her, and live a life on my own? She needs me as much as I need her.
“Be brave and have faith” – he would tell me every time I left home.
Sometimes, I want to be with him in heaven. Other times, I construct an indefinable strength that makes me breathe profoundly and witness beauty in the things I never realized would make me feel alive today. Places like a running trail, a library, a street covered in history, a bike lane, or a poor neighborhood where children ecstatically play without knowing they’re poor.
And, the good news is that he didn’t take all of me with him. I’m still here, fighting for something bigger, something that brings me madness and euphoria at the same time by creating meaning, something that pulls me straight into darkness, and throws me into the flames of the burning light of life.
To the art of writing Spanish poetry, listening to the sound of the wind, and the joy of drinking wine, I give thanks to those things for allowing me to feel the eminence of life, for burying my weaknesses far from this world, somewhere more horrifying than hell.
When I visited Argentina, I was studying human rights, and for the first time after the death of my father, I felt within a blaze of living courage and purpose. I felt something deeply engraved that tied me hard to my worldly flesh, a passion for learning, for exploring culture in other countries, understanding compassion, and becoming an ally of justice.
On what is not working. Sometimes we hide from reality, and we feel shut down and broken and we refuse to hear what the world is telling us.
It took me a while to understand that even after fighting for five years to beat kidney failure, injecting insulin every night, and sustaining a strict diet, my father struggled every day, but in spite of everything, HE LIVED.
I realized that every day we hope to be better, and do something different. And, sometimes we do nothing, because we feel that we have nothing. Losing my father in my hands, and witnessing beauty after his death, I realized that life can still be beautiful even during the time of grief.
I found beauty in accepting the whole package of life with all its victories, tragedies, smiles, and tears, and realizing how fortunate I am to have legs to walk and lungs to breathe.
His death left a vast darkness in me, and for a while, I let the grief deeply devour me, but I remember he had left his braveness rooted in me, and realized that the tragedy of life was not his death, but what I was letting die inside of me while I was still living.
That brave mean took the pulse of humanity and struggle like a hero. I have not let one single night pass by without telling him I miss him with every piece of me, and how beautifully strong my passion for living has bloomed even in the darkness
I would by lying if I didn’t admit that I still struggle, but I try every day to give my life a meaning, and do the things he would have wanted me to do. I’m also growing and learning, even as I write this story, and you read it. I learned standing next to my father while holding his veiny hand, and closing his eyes that there is something more powerful in me than a fear to live, something stronger than my vulnerability or low self-esteem, there is bravery, there is faith, there is an unbreakable spirit.
I am a human. I am living. I am learning. I am noticing beauty.