Life Without You

Hello everyone, it’s been some time since my last post and so much has happened in just one month. February this year, was the most difficult month I’ve experienced so far and I’m better than I was four weeks ago, but I’m still taking my time. Last month was my birthday month, Valentine’s Day, and so many other things, but also the month I lost my dad. He passed away on the morning of February 5th. It’s been a little over a month and I’m back to work, living my life almost the way I had been before, but mostly I’m learning a lot of things. I’m learning a lot about myself, about my family—even things about my dad I didn’t know about before his passing. He did always say, learning is good and I’m going to be doing it for a long time.

I took this Sunday to try and be productive—I tidied up the apartment, cleaned the bathroom, did the dishes, made coffee, ran some errands, went for a walk, painted, and now I’m writing a blog post. It feels good to have this kind of energy and motivation to “do stuff”. For most of February I didn’t want to do anything, but I had to anyway. Helping my family prepare for a funeral was stressful, overwhelming, frustrating, and emotional. It was hands down the worst two weeks of my life being back home under the circumstances. My mother, brother, and I all saw each other at our worst, worked together, didn’t work together, cry, laugh, be angry, basically every emotion under the sun was experienced as a family of three. I can’t particularly put into words what February was like this year, but it was dark. It was up and it was down. It was everything and everything I didn’t want it to be. I had to say goodbye to a man that has been the epicenter of my life for over 30 years. I had to come to the realization I would never sit next to him again, that I would never get to hug him, call him, eat with him again. Laugh together. Go on one last road trip. Watch the sun set together.

I promise this post isn’t supposed to be all blues. There’s some golden streaks of sun in here because he and I both love sunlight and warm weather.

I feel like I’ve grown a lot over the past month—I most definitely have a completely different perspective and outlook on life and all it has to offer. My perspective on time has changed—I want to make more time for the things that bring me joy and that includes spending valuable time with those I love. Things like this always come in hindsight, I found myself wondering if my dad was proud of me. Or if he knew I thought about him often. Did he know when I called him or when I came to visit back in January? Did he remember? My dad had been in bad health for over a year and experienced lots of health issues leading up to his worst time this year. When I visited in January, he had just gotten out of the hospital and was in bad shape. He had begun to forget things even before then—he’d forget I called him the day before and be upset that I “never call my father anymore” or when I came to visit he asked me several times when I had gotten home and where I was sleeping or staying. It was hard. My dad was in end stage renal failure and a slew of other medical issues, but he was becoming delirious and it was so painful to see and experience.

It had come up in conversation several times with my mom—the idea of me coming back home to help take care of dad, but I knew I couldn’t handle it physically nor mentally. There was just no way. I’d be putting my own health (both mental and physical) on the line and I would end up being completely useless anyway. Judge me if you want, call me selfish, but I knew I could not properly care for my father, so I did the best I could with frequent phone calls and checking in, and visiting as often as possible—being so far away from home. This brings me to my mom—she is the strongest person I know. Physically, emotionally, mentally. She took care of my father at his worst and she never left his side. I hope when I get to be my mom’s age, that I have the same willpower, strength, and courage to be even a fraction of the woman she is. God, I love that woman.

It was the most emotionally charged month of my life. All right around my birthday. It was difficult to celebrate or feel happy. I was supposed to be celebrating another year of life—a gift in itself—but I couldn’t help but continue mourning and grieving even through my birthday. That’s when I learned what it meant to grieve. I had never lost anyone so close to me before now. I’m a pretty frazzled individual. I can get pretty anxious over small things, so I had a nagging feeling I was going to lose my shit going back home for 2-3 weeks to prep a funeral, be around extended family (a stressor all by itself), and really just falling back into old home life, tradition, and culture.

I wrote the first obituary of my life. I saw my first cadaver ever. I said goodbye to someone who was there and wasn’t all at the same time. It was even my first open casket viewing and funeral where I actually went up to the casket. So many firsts and so much hope for it to be the last time I ever have to experience something like this, but I know better and this is life.

The funeral and Lao buddhist ceremonies were a three day weekend sort of thing. It’s kind of a blur now that I think about it, even though it was only a month ago. It feels so long ago somehow. I ran a LOT of errands for my mom. I went to the store (the same damn one) 6 times in one evening—thought I went to the store like every day for 5 days straight. I ate a lot of home cooked food I had missed after moving away from home. I got to see extended family—aunties, uncles, cousins (all blood related or not, same difference in Lao culture), and spent a lot of time with my mom and brother. My perspective on family has even changed. I’m really grateful for the family and cousins that came out and helped with preparations. Helped with food and cooking, donated both money and time, helped with everything really. Especially emotionally. In my household growing up, we didn’t express or show much emotion. So it was nice to come home during such a sad time and get hugs from people you wouldn’t normally even touch, let alone see for a few years at a time.

I let go of a lot of negative feelings and thoughts I had growing up and being around family. I went back home this time for one thing and one thing only, and that was for my dad. So we could say goodbye properly and so I could tell him how much he meant to me and how much I will always love him. Even if the words didn’t actually come out of my mouth. The feeling was there. The sincerity was there, and I hope he knows.

I know there is still a lot of things I’m going to keep learning as I continue going through life, but I feel like I’ve become a more perceptive individual, stronger in mind and emotion, and I am capable of a lot more than I knew and know. I try to live life more gratefully, humbly, and with as much love as I possibly can. Life is too short to not share warmth, hugs, love, smiles, and words of kindness. I want to keep becoming a better person each day.

On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, I took the time to be productive and do some self care, and indulge in some watercolor. I still find myself getting sad whenever I think about my dad, but I want to channel those emotions into something better for me. So, I decided to paint something near and dear to my dad—fish. He loved fish. He loved eating fish, going fishing, and his little aquarium of koi fish. I think koi are some of the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen and I really wanted to bring the colors of a koi fish to life. I’m not the best watercolor painter, but it’s so relaxing and fun. I used to draw and doodle things for my dad all the time as a kid and he always acted so happy to get those little gifts. So here’s one more, for old time sake. Even if he’s not here to physically see it, it was painted and presented as a gift in spirit. I won’t ever see koi fish and not think about him.

If you read until the end, I thank you for taking a step into my Sunday and catching up with what’s been going on in my life. If you follow me on Instagram or know me personally, you probably already knew about the news. If you are family or friends that have been in touch during this rough few weeks, I want to say thank you. Thank you for loving me near and far, for sending loving vibes, well wishes, and most of all for making sure I’m ok. It means a lot, even if I haven’t specifically expressed it. It’s still hard for me sometimes, but I hope you don’t take it personally if I haven’t opened up.

A special shoutout to my loving partner for all of his support, emergency hugs, and just being there when all I can do is cry. Thank you for your love no matter what. Words fail me often and I love you and appreciate you more than I can express.

Another special shoutout to my best friend until the end of time. You were a rock during the most difficult time of my life so far. It meant everything that you dropped everything to come be with me last month. I appreciate you and am so damn grateful for you and your love. I can’t thank you enough.

And to you dear reader, if you’ve made it this far through a not-so-cheerful post—thank you for being here. We all need support, even if it’s from strangers on the internet. Thank you for reading and until next time. ❤️

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