The last time heard my father’s voice was on the day before he passed away. After months of seeking his doctor’s approval, my father, a heart patient in recovery, was excited to come home to spend time with the family. As I sat at my friend’s house talking to him over the phone, I made sure my father notified his nurses before I picked him up the following morning. Little did I know, this was the very last time I was going to hear his voice.
On January 10, 2015, my sister received an unexpected call from the hospital. Confused, my sister picked up. In the early hours of that chilly Saturday morning, my sister was informed that my father had just been rushed to the hospital after nurses found him unconscious in bed. “Life support? What do you mean life support?” asked my sister in a frantic state of mind. As tears began to well up, I knew something wasn’t right, yet every fibre of my being wanted to deny the worse. As I rushed to pick up my mother up from work, I gathered all the strength I had and prayed.
Intracranial hemorrhage, they said. A life-threatening stroke that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood supply. Prior to his admittance to the hospital, my father was completing a three-month program at a long-term care centre to help him recover from the stroke he suffered early September 2014. Knowing this, the attending physician informed us that my father unexpectedly displayed abnormal vital signs causing altered level of consciousness, leaving him in a coma. Right then, I knew I lost him. Even when the doctor muttered those devastating words, it was time to say good-bye.
The day I lost my father, my world shattered into unrepairable pieces. As I attempted to grip onto my new reality, I became numb. Numbness. The only word to describe how I felt after everything that happened. While I sat in my room writing his eulogy, I wasn’t prepared to let go. Every part of my mind, body, and soul wasn’t ready. Nothing in this world ever prepares you when you lose someone, especially a parent. In a span of one year, I lost two of the most important people in my life – my grandmother and my father.
For the first several months after his funeral, I would sit in my room and cry. I cried out to the universe and asked why. Why did it happen? Why did he have to go? Why couldn’t the doctors save him? Why couldn’t I be there when he needed me most? Why was I selfish? Why?
The idea of living my entire life without my father is what kept me up a night. What was my future going to be like without the conversations, the arguments, the guidance, and the bond we had? Like any daughter, I wanted my father to see me graduate from University, to be the one to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and the one I’d have my first dance with. These thoughts began to cloud every aspect of my mind; transforming that dull feeling of loss into a deep, unbearable pain of darkness. The broken pieces of my life turned into shards that plunged any positive thoughts that ran through my mind.
Grief began to dictate my life. It controlled my decisions, my actions, and my behaviour. I started to blame everyone around me. My mother, my brother, my sister, the care centre, the doctors, the hospital – everyone including myself. My smile became a cry for help, yet, I wanted people to believe I was this strong, fierce girl who can overcome anything. I didn’t want my narrative to be defined as the “girl who lost her father,” but days turned into months and I only got weaker. I fell into deep depression and started to distance myself from my friends, loved ones – even my soul. I quit everything I loved and simply gave up.
The first holidays without him wasn’t easy. Father’s Day, his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas – these were the holidays I dreaded the most. I remember questioning, why celebrate holidays if the person you love isn’t here to celebrate with you? I felt guilty and selfish, thus stopped putting effort into celebrating. For myself, I was just simply afraid of moving on without him.
“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II
THE HEALING PROCESS
A year had passed since my father passed away, however, I started to see this beautiful radiant light at the end of the tunnel. After taking some time to travel during the last few months of 2015, I began to reflect on the lessons my father had taught me. As I travelled through the beautiful Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, I could hear him say “Baby, do not give up on your dreams, your aspirations, and your future. Keep fighting until you have what you want and I will always be there with you.” Looking back, I was in a dark place in my life – trapped in my own mind and thoughts and feeling like there was no way out. I no longer wanted to feel this way thus, began to take control over my life again.
During the past two years, I began to embark on soul-searching trips to find myself and heal this broken soul of mine. Travelling became the one thing that helped me during the process of healing and if it wasn’t for the trips I have taken, I don’t know where I would be today. While nothing can fill the empty void my father has left, I have met amazing people on my trips who complete this soul-fulfilling journey. Like Cheryl Strayed quotes:
“The place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless darkness and glimmering light.” – Cheryl Strayed
Furthermore, while I initially launched Wanderlust Ash in 2015, it was not until 2016 where I began to document this beautiful, chaotic life of mine. Blogging became a form of therapy – a form of connecting and expressing myself and the thoughts that cloud my mind.
Additionally, life presented new opportunities where I began to take up leadership positions to which I became the President of two clubs, an undergraduate student representative on Student Council, and a Youth Delegate to the 22nd Session of the Youth Assembly at United Nations.
Through the pain of loss and grief, love will power through. Your loved ones will always be here watching over you – rooting for you in the decisions that you make for your own life. No matter what you go through and no matter what obstacles are in your path, life will be beautiful again, but beautifully different. After all, they belong to the stars in the clouds.