A year ago this month, my family and I went through one of the most painful experiences we have ever had to go through in our life – the loss of my dad. What made it even harder was the fact that no one expected it. He seemed so strong, so happy and he was still looking forward to many more years of life. It was a devastating day that felt so unreal and still feels unreal even to this very moment.
Many days I catch myself thinking about what we could have done to prevent his death. I often get upset with myself, regretting all the times I could have spent with him but didn't because life got so busy. You always think there's going to be a tomorrow. They say time heals, but I've come to realize that it actually doesn't. You get used to the absence of someone, but the pain I felt the day he left is still the same pain I feel when I have flashbacks of it. One of the struggles I've been dealing with lately is accepting the truth that I no longer have a dad. You'd think at my age, a father figure is no longer necessary because I'm a man with my own family now, but that isn't true at all. I am often wishing that I could talk to him one more time and have a chance to tell him I miss him being around. I miss getting texts from him, I miss giving him haircuts, hearing his laugh, watching him spoil my kids, seeing him with my mom and countless other things – I miss having a dad.
There are days when I think back to how my childhood was with him and how he was as a father. He was a good dad. He was always there to watch me at Tae Kwon Do, he played basketball with me and always supported everything I was into – except my phase of wearing ridiculously baggy jeans and rocking a horrible haircut. He always teased me about that! He never failed to show me that he cared about my future, whether it be with my education, my relationships and most importantly, my walk with God. Of course, he wasn't perfect. I don't think there's such a thing as a perfect father. But I loved my dad a lot, not because he was perfect, but because he was a great dad that genuinely cared about his family. And when I became an adult and had children of my own, it did not surprise me that he was such an awesome Grandpa. My kids miss him so much.
Not a day has gone by that I don't think about my dad, and as much as it hurts to think about him being gone, I will say I learned a few valuable lessons in fatherhood this past year because of all this. One, is that life is short and what I do as a dad will impact what my children will be like as they get older and become adults. There's a crazy world out there that will try to destroy all the values you instill in your kids, but I truly believe that if you invest your time and efforts to show your children you love them, your influence will always be stronger that anyone else's. The second thing I learned is that it's okay to make mistakes as a dad. We get frustrated, we get scared and sometimes we honestly don't know what to do with our kids. The cool thing about being a dad, though, or a parent overall is that the mistakes we make are not what our kids remember us for, it's our love for them. I don't look back and think about the times my dad messed up, I look back and remember him as the dad that made every effort to make sure I had a good childhood – the dad that worked hard to give us a comfortable life. I remember him as the dad that made time to play with me and discipline me when needed so I would know right from wrong. As children, we hated discipline, but eventually we realize it makes us better adults and I am very grateful for that. Last but not least, I learned that although my dad is no longer with us physically, the lessons he's taught, the memories I have of him and the very significant impact he's made in my life and my family's life continue to be alive. This is the reason why fatherhood never dies.