It sounded like a whisper, his final exhale. A puff of air never to be replaced. That whisper is forever imprinted in my memory.
It was very early that Saturday morning, my brother and I each holding one of his hands, that our dad exhaled for the last time. The previous five-and-a-half months filled with hope and promise—gone in an instant. I wasn’t ready for it, but who really is? Holding on to that hope and promise of recovery didn’t prepare me or my family for what was to come.
My dad was an amazing human who lived for his kids, lived for education, and lived to laugh. For the first several months after his death, I grieved internally. I moved quickly from denial to anger; then stayed in anger for a long time. I perpetuated it by reliving the moment of his death over and over, thinking why wasn’t I a better daughter? Why didn’t I call him more often? Why did I move out so soon? I went through a long bout of depression, again suffering internally because I didn’t reach out to my support system. They constantly assured me they were there for me, “But are they really?” I would ask myself. (They were, but I wouldn’t realize until about a year later.)
I remember the day I began to accept my dad was gone. I was at work speaking with a colleague about something dad-related and a small marble I had on my desk (who knows why!), which was resting beside a picture of my dad and me, slowly started to roll. No one touched the desk, nothing knocked it—it just started to roll. I took it undoubtedly as a sign from my dad. I could hear him saying something like, “Why are you still sad? I’m at peace now.” It’s true, he was at peace. No more chemotherapy or radiation or weakness or pain; he was his joyful self again—just somewhere else.
It was then I realized I needed to talk about it—talk about that whisper and come to terms with the loss of my favorite man. So I talked. I told my whisper story to anyone who would listen. It shocked me in those instances when someone would cut me off or stop listening, like they didn’t care. I think it’s mostly because they didn’t understand. That didn’t stop me. I found—and still find—solace in talking about that morning and all that led up to that whisper. I recall it like it was yesterday. It’s imprinted in my mind.
Six years on, I think about my dad daily. Tears still come to my eyes when I see a father/daughter interaction. I have pangs of sadness every time I remember my dad can’t walk me down the aisle (when that time comes). I have moments of uncontrollable sobbing. But, I do find joy thinking about him. When I hear myself laugh (because I have his laugh), or when people tell me how proud he is of me that I’m an educated and independent woman. I know he loves that I own my condo and that I’m traveling the world. It’s these positive, heartwarming moments that give me peace from losing my dad.
With Father’s Day around the corner, I celebrate the life my dad gave me, the genes I carry on for him, and the life I lead because of him. I celebrate by sharing his whisper with you in hopes that you celebrate the father figure in your life and cherish every moment you have with him.