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.