It has been said that “time heals all wounds.” I do not agree. After time, there will always be a scar as a reminder of what happened. For me, my scar is my dad’s urn of ashes.
It was late August 2015 when my dad was admitted to Kaiser for a liver filter surgery due to his liver cancer. This was a planned surgery; he was going to go into the hospital then come right back out. Unfortunately, during the operation, he had a heart attack. Being the strong man he was, he survived and was transferred to the intensive care unit, where he remained for a week and a half. Almost every night after my water polo practice, my family and I would visit him. He even spent his last birthday in the hospital. A couple days later, he had heart complications and was put on life support.
On September 1, 2015, I got a text from my brother saying, “We need to leave school … something happened to Dad.” At that moment, my heart stopped. Lunch came to an end and I met my brother in the back parking lot. We drove to Kaiser in San Rafael, our nervousness creating complete silence. The entire car ride it felt like my heart was going to burst out my chest. My hands were sweating. I could not stop thinking about the voicemail my dad had left me the week after he got diagnosed.
The voicemail had said, “Daddy’s not going anywhere, he will get cured don’t worry.”
My brother and I pulled into a parking spot, not stopping to notice that we couldn’t park there – it was for handicaps. The hospital doors opened and as we entered my dad’s room I saw my sister holding my dad’s hand. He was unresponsive with a tube down his throat. My mom, with tears running down her face, told my brother and me that he wasn’t going to make it. At that moment it felt like my world had come to an end, like I was in a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.
As I was in the waiting room, my thoughts spiraled. I never imagined that at fourteen I’d be saying goodbye to my dad forever. My turn came, and as I sat on the small baby blue chair, I stared at a face I did not recognize. Blank with no expression. I saw a piece of my heart go when I knew there was nothing I could do to help him.
If you knew my dad all he did was help others and put people before him. When I looked at him I felt like I couldn’t return the favor. I held his hand with tears rushing down my face and asked him why he was leaving me. Knowing I was never going ever to get an answer, I told him I was sorry. I said goodbye and told him I loved him so much. I kissed him on his forehead and left.
Just like after every death there was a funeral. All our friends and family came to pay their respects. I had been to a couple of funerals before, but this was the first where it felt like my own pain to have to look at a family member in a casket. As we drove over to the church where my dad’s service was held, I peeked outside the car window and saw a swarm of familiar and unfamiliar faces waiting outside. We got out of the car and headed inside. That was the last time I ever saw my dad.
Today, I am better at handling grief. I’ve learned that over time it gets a little bit easier to deal with. Grief can hit me out of nowhere; some days I will just break down, but other days I am okay. No matter my mood though, the glimmer from my dad’s necklace that hangs in my room gives me the security I need to move forward. It’s the little things that matter.
I joined a support group here at Tam that helps with kids who have lost a loved one. The group has helped a lot. I get to connect with high school students who have gone through similar experiences as I have and learn how they have dealt with the pain and hurt they are forced to confront.