Image source: Zulmaury Saavedra
I haven’t blogged in more than a month; I just couldn’t bring myself to write. It’s been a trying time. Why? Well, let’s rewind back to January of this year to explain why June was such a difficult month for me.
This past January, my family texted me that my dad went to sleep and hadn’t been awake for two days. I wasn’t sure what they meant by that so I asked if I should book a flight to California (I live in Minnesota). I don’t think my family was sure of what to make of the situation either so they played it off like I didn’t need to worry. However, something in my gut told me to leave as soon as possible. I texted my two sisters in Oklahoma that we should all leave for California ASAP. With my one-year-old in tow, I left to the airport the next morning. My sisters and I met each other the next day in Sacramento where our eldest sister lives and we drove down to the central valley to meet the rest of our family.
I don’t think I comprehended the fact that it was possibly the last trip I would take in which every member of my family was alive. I had high hopes – possibly naivety – that my dad would wake up, I’d leave back to Minnesota and I would be back that same year visiting with my children. And I held onto that hope because it was all I had. Literally. I had nothing else that would guarantee my father would be well and having hope seemed like a convenient response. My father never woke up. He died two days after I arrived.
I had high hopes – possibly naivety – that my dad would wake up, I’d leave back to Minnesota and I would be back that same year visiting with my children.
His funeral was such a blur; I don’t think I remember much of it except that I was tired. In our tradition, we hold funerals for three days with the burial on the fourth day. During those three days, the funeral home is opened 24/7. You can imagine that we were all tired from the lack of sleep. My siblings and I had to make sure that things were running smoothly and we did all this while mourning someone we all loved. My older siblings had the most responsibilities and, despite the fact that they slept less than some of us did while juggling more things on their plate, they made our father’s funeral a beautiful one.
As June crept closer, I just couldn’t fathom experiencing a first Father’s Day without my dad. I only saw my dad once or twice a year; however, knowing that he’d be there to greet my children when I came to visit was reassuring. As Father’s Day neared, knowing that my dad was no longer alive for me to chat with was difficult. What added on to that difficulty was that his birthday was two days prior to Father’s Day on June 14th; he would’ve turned 76.
A year ago, I wrote a poem:
I grew up in a poor man’s home
Where I learned
To consider the possibilities
Of life before me
Because of him
I continue lending my thoughts
To my journal
To the world
To the possibility of probabilities
Of hope above fear
So here’s to the poor man
Thank you, Dad
My dad wasn’t a rich man. He didn’t have a college degree let alone an elementary school education. He was an immigrant who left his home country to escape the Vietnam War that ravaged Laos. He crossed the Mekong River from Laos to Thailand and found safety in a refugee camp with my mother and four surviving siblings. He made the decision to come to America to give his children the opportunity to experience freedom. Despite all this hardship, he always preached love: love one another, love our mother, love our children, and love ourselves. He just wanted us to be good people.
Despite all this hardship, he always preached love: love one another, love our mother, love our children, and love ourselves.
The effects of death are long-lasting and the grieving process can be difficult especially during the first year. I hope that I can be more uplifted next year when June arrives knowing that his spirit is well and alive. Until June arrives again and beyond that, I’m going to hang tight onto the principle he taught my siblings and me since we were little: love others well.