July 02, 2009 (Ottawa, Canada)
Today marks the 5 year anniversary of my dad’s passing.
I understand that everyone’s struggles and losses are different and cannot be compared. I know I’m very lucky to have grown up with a father. One who loved his family and worked hard, sacrificing a lot in order to provide for us. One who brought us up to be good people, one who taught us many valuable lessons and skills.
However, as the years go by and I get older, it pains me more and more that I lost my dad so early. He wasn’t even 51 years old and I was turning only 22. I was still living at home, hadn’t truly grown up, with barely any life experience under my belt.
Now 5 years later, my life has changed significantly. I went from living at home to moving across the world and starting a new life on my own. I am months away from graduating medical school and becoming a doctor. I have met the love of my life and we are now engaged. And I am upset that my father has not been by my side to see any of this happen! He never had the chance to visit Australia, which is where he wanted to retire and why I even looked into going to school here. He did not get to see my siblings and I finish school, begin our careers, and start our families. He never had the chance to meet Michael, although I’m sure he would have accepted him like his own son. He won’t see us get married and when we have children, they will never get to meet their grandfather, who would’ve loved them and taught them so much. There was so much in life my father did not have a chance to experience!
Sometimes I feel quite bitter. Life isn’t fair. But it’s always a reminder to live life to the fullest. Enjoy life and fill it with as much love possible… I miss you dad…
I wrote the following back in 2012 but wanted to repost it in order to share his story again with you:
3 years ago today, a great father left this world – mine.
This man fled Vietnam by boat and survived years in a refugee camp during which time he nearly died – more than once.
When he finally made it to Canada, he met his daughter for the first time – me.
With literally the clothes on his back, he endured hardship and racism in a new country – without speaking the language.
But he laboured hard, lived meagerly and sacrificed – he made a living.
He embraced a new culture and nourished a growing family – built a strong foundation for a new beginning.
He bought a car and soon he bought a house. He educated his children well and took his family on vacations – accomplishments many take for granted.
Everything was going well. Then came life-changing news – the diagnosis of liver cancer.
Five years followed. Happy moments. Hard times. Surgery. Chemotherapy. Pain. Relapses. Hope. Family.
The father once so reserved now spent hours a day just talking with his children – he wanted more time with his family.
The dad who preferred staying in to save money now encouraged his children to enjoy the pleasures of life as often as possible – he had regrets.
The man who never liked being the subject of photography now wanted to be in as many pictures with family as he could – he didn’t want to be forgotten.
The husband who seemed so strong now often spilled his fears as well as tears – he was afraid to die.
The man who told us to share with him all that was in our hearts because he was going to die in 3 days – he foretold his death.
The man who hugged us, who kissed us, who cried with us and wished he didn’t have to leave us – he accepted his fate.
The man who had to remain sedated until he passed away – hopefully he knew no pain.
The man whose breathing slowed until he took his last breath – died surrounded by a stronger, more loving family.
The man who has shaped the person I am today – my father.
Dad, I will forever miss you and love you. My memories of you and your teachings will have a permanent place in my heart.
Thank you for taking your time to read this post.
And thank you to all my friends who continue to give me their love and support. The meaning of friendship became most clear to me in the days leading up to and the weeks following my dad’s death. You were my pillars of support and I truly would not have been able to be there for my family if you had not been there for me. I love you guys.
Below are links to posts from previous years, I’m putting them all here so I can easily look back on them in the future: