My father died four years ago. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, and six months later, he was dead. The tumor went to his head (so I think I saw him die two times: first when his personality changed (he got aggressive, cold and even got to a point where he didn’t recognize us), and the second when his heart stopped beating). I had just turned 15 and the scene of his cold body lying with cotton inside his nose and mouth still echoes through my mind sometimes. After his death, my life completely changed.
For a long time I simply did not accept his death. How could this happen? We were so happy! A middle-class family with financial problems, but happy – at least for me. I thought he would be sick, get better and we would learn to appreciate each other more. But that didn’t happen. He died.
I’ve never actually paid attention to my life before, so I don’t quite remember it. Yes, I don’t remember 14 years of my life, but I do remember being happy. See, my mother was just amazing: intelligent, bright, well-humored and with lots of love to give. My father was my soulmate. I’m the youngest of three daughters and we had a connection that no words can explain: he knew what was inside my head just by looking at me. I remember he was always joking about the good and the bad things in life, drinking beer and doing anything we asked. When he passed away, I felt like someone had ripped my heart out of my chest (cliché, but that’s exactly the kind of pain I felt). I would never hug him again, or hear his voice or see him coming through the door after a long day. Would never hug his legs again, blush when he asked who my boyfriend was or make me give him a hundred kisses before going out.
A week after he died, when I went to visit him on the hospital (he went the day before my birthday – that’s one reason why I actually don’t really like celebrating), he already didn’t recognize his daughters. But as soon as we entered the door and he turned to look, he did. He recognized us. He smiled like I haven’t seen him in weeks, a smooth and happy smile. Even though it lasted one second, I’ll remember it forever, because the last time I saw my dad, he smiled. I couldn’t say a word to him, but he saw in my eyes how much love were above all that madness and the disease. And that’s how I remember him.
Even with all the pain that came after his death, the frustration, loss of hope and screaming at God for doing this to us, that wasn’t the hardest part. That was the normal one, the grief. So I learned of thing which I never really said to anyone, but it’s the ultimate truth about death: accepting one’s lost is not the hardest part about death. Devil lies in losing the ones who stayed.
Until today I struggle about not knowing who my family became, especially my mother. They all turned out to be strangers to me, and I found myself feeling completely alone. Depression hit half of the ones I love, and I fight everyday to not be dragged into that. Financial problems, fights, silence… All that hits me when I get home. Sitting on the table to have dinner is a struggle, so I just build a wall and stay in silence while I see myself each time more distant from the ones I love.
So today, four years after the most terrible thing that happened in my life, I realize: father is in peace, and is exactly as I remember him. But those who stayed… I lost them. Can’t find where they’ve gone. Including myself.