No one should ever have to say goodbye to their father twice. But I did. My brothers and I did. And lately this is something that I have been really struggling with.
For the past seven years, I have identified my growth by rooting it mostly from my father’s death. And I often wonder how different life could have been for me if he were still alive today. I struggled then and continue to struggle. This is something I cannot deny. And I have come to accept that this is a very real and huge part of my life. A very real and huge part that continues to teach me. And I believe a source for much of my strength today.
My dad was cremated in 2005 and my mom has kept his ashes since. This year she finally found the strength to lay his ashes to rest. So we prepared for his inurnment which happened on August 23rd. The preparation leading up to his memorial service shook my soul in a similar way it did seven years ago, but the difference this year is I’m seven years older. I’m a stronger woman at 32 — marked with the battle scars of surviving a loss and picking up the pieces of a world destroyed.
Apart from managing the memorial service preparation with my mom, she also asked me to do his eulogy… a part of me froze. Doing his eulogy felt much larger than anything I could ever do well and I didn’t know where to start. I avoided writing it. I hid in my own little cave. I cried. I visited those dark corners I’m always too frightened to visit. Battled with my own dragons and demons and somehow I came out on the other side. I dug deep enough and found faith in my ability to do this right.
The days leading up to the service were some of the hardest I’ve soldiered through. But I did it. Somehow I did it. I cried and showed myself at my most vulnerable to a small group of my father’s closest family and friends last week:
I’ve been trying to find the right words to convey just how loving and selfless my Dad was. It felt like every decision and move he made, you would find us, my brothers, my Mom and me at the heart of it all. He did it all for us. We were his world.
My Dad never gave us any reason to ever doubt that he loved us. He made sure that we knew it. So today we are not left hungry for his love. In fact, we are living in abundance of it. He died seven years ago and yet his love still feels as fresh as ever. Filling our days with courage and confidence — enough to build the lives he always wanted for us… even when he is gone.
It’s hard to talk about my Dad without mentioning my Mom. They loved and lived as one. They showed by example how a marriage should be and that finding true love was possible. Even after death and for many years since, I still see how Dad’s love sustains my Mom and how it continues to strengthen her. They had the kind of love that most of us would dream of, that most of us would live for — I felt lucky to see this at home. My brothers and I were lucky that this was the world Dad chose to create with Mom.
Our world is filled with sons & daughters who never heard their father say they loved them. Perhaps their dad walked out on them at a young age and left their mothers to raise them on her own. Or dads too tired from focusing on their careers to ever feel emotionally available to their children. Too scared to show affection to their children, to hug and love and kiss them.
With my dad, I am not left walking around with a void. He was always there for me. Every time he came back from a business trip or he flew in from spending time in the Philippines, he would shower me with hugs and kisses. And this continued throughout my life. During the latter part of his life and especially when I was older, he also became my friend. He always went above and beyond what was expected of him. There are far too many examples for me to list today.
For all of us and mostly for my brothers, he showed by example what a loving husband and father should be.
His legacy is this – the love he gave his family. And I want everyone to know and to remember that this was his greatest gift. I am grateful that Dad showed us what to value in life: that if you put love & family in the center of it all — you will have a life that is full and well-lived.