From left to right: My papa, my brother and Me. Our last picture together.
Being a Papa’s girl, Losing a Father is one of the most difficult things in the world and people want to know how to deal with it. It’s strange that I have seen family and friends lose parents but haven’t heard much from them about what it’s been like.
When my grandfather died, I knew it was hard for my mother. She had a very close relationship with him. She’d talk about him and tell us her childhood memories of him. But I never her exhibit pain over his loss. I assumed that because he was elderly when he died, losing him was just a part of growing older and that people had it in them to deal with that.
Some of people I know lost parents as well. They both seemed very strong in dealing with it. I never heard anything from them about the difficulties they faced dealing with the loss. Again, the impression I got was that it was a normal phase of life that we go through and we’re built to deal with it.
I’m learning it’s not as easy as people make it seem to be. It doesn’t matter how old you or your parents are when they die, their passing is one of the most difficult things in the world to deal with. And it seems that it doesn’t matter what culture you come from, people tend to hold in their emotions while in front of others. People seem to think that they need to be strong for others. I know I’ve done this. I don’t want my siblings and mother to know I’m in pain over the loss of my father. I don’t think they’ve seen me cry over his loss. If they are around and my father is brought up, I’ll put on a strong face, and even a smile, and talk about him lovingly. But then I may need to rush to the bathroom to let go of the tears in private. Or if tears fall into my face, I just wife it right away.
We buried my beautiful father after 5 days of his death. He was and always will be the love of my life. By the grace of God, all four of his children were with him to say goodbye together with Mama. Along the years, I’ve learned there is no such thing as a perfect parent. My Papa was neither a perfect man nor a perfect parent. No one is. But in my heart, I’ve always seen him as perfect even though in my mind I was aware of his imperfections. My father was my one constant. I was always certain that there was this one person in my life who would do absolutely anything for me, for my siblings and most especially for my Mama.
Most significantly, I stopped thinking of my father as often as the dead man lying on the hospital bed all covered in white. That phase was one of the most difficult. Perhaps one or two days after his death I started getting the more normal images of my father when I thought of him: my father carrying me in his arms when I was a child, my father sitting and watching TV, my father telling one of his dirty jokes and laughing his great belly laugh. Although the weeping hadn’t stopped, it became less frequent and less intense.
But it seems that I’m going through another phase of intensity again. It started yesterday and it’s getting worse. Almost everything reminds me of my Papa. I think a lot in my head and somehow most of my thought processes end up leading me to my father even when they start out having nothing to do with him at all. And the minute the thought of him comes into my head that’s it. The intense weeping starts and I can’t help but call out, “Papa!” It’s worse in the evening before I sleep, when no ones around, and I’m alone lying on my bed. But it can happen almost anytime. When I’m sad about something I remember my Papa because my Mama said that my father was the one who was affected when I am in trouble, or have a problem or someone hurts me. When I’m happy about something I remember him, because my father was so happy too when I achieved something it feels like he got it too. When I’m just normal I remember my Papa because we just having a talked for something, a usual topic.
Old picture with my Papa
“Papa, we miss your hugs. We miss your smile, your deep belly laugh, the twinkle in your eyes, and how you roll your eyes in exasperation at us. We miss your complaining. I loved your complaining. It was never from the heart and we all knew it. We miss seeing your eyes light up every time one of your children walked into the house, knowing that all of us were present to the dining table. We miss your stories. We miss your tears (being emotional is one of the quality that I got from you). We will miss your jokes, your advice, your voice and your presence. We will miss you more than any words can describe. But you will be a part of us. I can feel you in me. You’ve left me with the one love I could always depend on. I will cherish that forever. I love you, Papa. Be at peace now.”
Losing my father when I was at the ripe age of 27 turning 28 in just 10 days, was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with. I believe we will meet again in God’s time.