Monday, April 23, 2012

Today, I Celebrate Life and Remember My Dad

Today is a unique day.  It is both my birthday and the anniversary of my dad's death.  I turn 35 today and 16 years ago my dad passed away.  Every birthday since then has been special.  I celebrate my life as well as his.  I can't help to wake up on my birthday and relive those last few days with him.  It is my way of remembering the intensity of losing a parent.  Though painful, I don't want to forget.  I want to embrace the grief and loss I feel for him.  The pain is real and it is a part of who I am.  When I write about my dad, I can't always think clearly and I don't really want to.  So, I just go with the flow and voice whatever comes to mind.

My dad had AIDS.  I never really accepted the disease.  I stayed positive and really thought that the handfuls of vitamins and herbs he took would prolong his life.  This was before the cocktail so he had to rely on things such as garlic and shark cartilage.  I was completely shocked to get a phone call from my mom telling me to come home from college.  I was a freshman and it was the week before final exams.  My roommate and I found my professors and, through tears and snotty noses, requested that I take my exams early so that I could go home and be with my dad who was dying.  This was difficult.  Still, I have no recollection of those days as I crammed for my exams and packed my belongings not knowing what I was going home to.

He wasn't too bad when I first saw him but that didn't last long.  I think that he lived for a week or two after I came home.  Sometimes, I miss him so much that my soul actually hurts. I can't catch my breath and I feel like I am suffocating. 

I never heard my dad yell and I never saw him get angry.  He worried about my sister and I and he would have done anything for us.  His love was unconditional.  My dad was compassionate, peaceful, spiritual, funny, loving and creative.  I truly admired him. 

The night before my dad died, I kissed him goodnight and told him that I would take care of my sister.  He didn't have to hang on any longer.  It was okay to go.  I didn't' care that it was my birthday.  He died a few hours later.  That day was so awkward.  Everyone was in shock while we picked out an urn and cemetery plot that morning and ate birthday cake later in the afternoon.  I think my entire family was floating in some other dimension.  It was completely surreal.

God, I miss my dad.  Sometimes, I have nightmares that he is alive and the only reason I don't see him is because we lost touch with each other.  In my nightmare, my dad is living his life somewhere but I have no idea where.  I feel so alone after these dreams and I grieve for him all over again.

I feel hollow when I miss him only because I loved him so much.  After allowing myself to remember his death, I spend the day celebrating life.  I know that I will see my dad again one day and this brings me peace.  Today, I am thankful for my life as well as his.  I am grateful that I could be myself with him. We didn't even have to speak, we could just be with each other and feel connected.  I will carry this connection with me forever.  He has inspired me in so many ways: learning to love myself, embracing creativity, opening myself to true love, connecting with God and furthering my education.  I completed my graduate portfolio in his memory and included this photo and poem: 

My father, my past

He who taught me to love unconditionally

To savor every moment and to laugh at the little things.

When I think of my father and the life that he lived,

I am reminded of the importance to be myself and to love who I am.

He was the embodiment of peace, love, and spirituality.

My father’s contribution to my leadership capacity was teaching me

to be compassionate and understanding.  


  1. Jaime,
    My heart is full and overflowing today for you. I cannot say I fully know what you are feeling but, I have a little because like you I lost my dad. I was 29 when he passed away from cancer we had no idea was growing and taking over his whole body. When he finally went to see the Dr. it was everywhere and he lived for exactly 3 weeks. I miss him. Sometimes it rises up for no reason a thought of him, and sometimes when it is a momentous time, like when my daughters graduated from high school or got married and recently when they had babies...I thought of dad and how proud he would be...losing a parent is a very hard thing to go through...and I wish I could be there in person right now to wrap my arms around you and just be still and give you the support I know you are needing. Since I am not there, please know I am sending my love and support to you via our computers. ;) Take care sweetheart!

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  3. This is so poignant and beautiful.

  4. This is a beautifuly post, Jaime. I hope you spend a lovely day in remembrance of your dad!

  5. Thank you so much, Melody, for sharing about your dad and your kind thoughts. It helps me feel grounded to know that, not only is loss a part of life, but it affects everyone. We're not alone during times like this.

  6. What a blessing that you had a beautiful relationship with your father, and you can speak of him with admiration. That's something that can't ever be taken away, not even death. Enjoy your special day, Jaime.

  7. Oh my gosh,what a beautiful tribute to your father. How sadly ironic he passed on your b-day. God's way of reminding us, I guess, that life and death are just different forms of being in the present of our heavenly Father. How blessed you were to be able to come home and be with him, even though it was painful. He sounds like a wonderful influence in your life. I, too, have a wonderful dad, but I know there are many who have not had that. You honored him beautifully today. And happy, blessed birthday to YOU. :-)

  8. Beautifully written from the heart. You are doing the right thing...celebrating life. He would be proud.

  9. This is a beautiful tribute to your dad, and reading it brought tears to my eyes. My thoughts are with you today as you think about your father and celebrate life.

  10. Hi Jamie: What a beautiful post. Your father, as you already know, remains by your side. Two years after my father died, I was in meditation, seeking to connect with my spirit guide, one that I'd known since childhood. Instead, my father came to my side and spoke lovingly to me. What a gift! You may become aware of your father's presence more clearly when practicing deep meditation. Blessings to you and your family.

  11. This so beautiful and moving. I'm in tears.

    He would be so proud of you AND this post.


  12. What a beautiful story on remembering your father. Have a wonderful birthday also.

  13. My heart goes out to you. To lose a dad on your birthday must have been devasting.
    I lost my mother 14 yrs ago, 3 days later was told my husband was terminally ill and within 2 months he to had left me.
    I felt bewildered I guess. Well as the years went on I realised I had to celebrate their lives rather than mourn their passing.
    I remember all the good memories.
    I wish you well and Happy Birthday.

  14. Happy Birthday my dear...your words are beautiful and in a perfect way describe your wonderful relationship. He sounds like a wonderful person so I don't need to ask you where you came by the special person you are. He did well in passing those traits on to you. Immerse yourself with his love and memories on this special day!

  15. This is beautifully expressed, Jaime, especially the birthday cake detail; my father died right in between my two children's birthdays. It is not easy to blow up party balloons when you're grieving, but it also helps you to remember how important it is to celebrate life. And, at 19, having the strength to get your exams done and deal with this, that is great credit to you and your parents.

  16. I am crying reading your post. Although it's not my birthday (happy birthday to you!), I just took my dad into the hospital with low blood pressure 78/32. he was disoriented, couldn't walk, could barely talk. We found out he has kidney failure. I don't know yet what all it will entail for him, but it was so hard watching my dad so sick when he has always been so strong.

    I love him and look up to him. He has overcome so huge obstacles in his life and I am so proud of him for it. And I know he loves me - and that's a great feeling.

    I can only imagine a sliver of what you go through. the thought of my Dad not being in my life brings me physical pain.

    I'm sorry that your dad is gone. Keep holding on to your memories. It is far greater to hold dear the good times you shared in life rather than the bad times in death.

    All the best,
    Michelle :)

    A to z challenger

  17. This was really beautiful. I'm so sorry that you lost your dad - he sounds like an amazing man. You're in my thoughts. And happy (well, now belated) birthday!

  18. Michelle - I'm sorry to hear about your father. I'll say a prayer for him.