One year ago today

One year ago today, I lost my father after a brief and unexpected battle with cancer.  It’s been a difficult year, but I try to stay positive by thinking about how blessed I was to have had him in my life and how lucky I am to be surrounded and supported by wonderful and amazing family and friends.    

The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 11 months and 1 day ago, on December 08, 2011. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org:

Dear FutureMe,

In three days, it will be one month since Baba passed away, and when you get this email, one year will have passed. I don't know if the feeling of grief will be any different. Right now, it's still hard to believe that Baba is gone and that I'll never be able to hold and hug him, or see him at his computer or reading on the couch. I'll miss the thick oily scent of his hair, and his low voice providing comments and advice on any range of topics. I'll miss how much he loved talking about his purchases, and learning more about them through books he ordered online.

I hope you never forget that last night I dreamt of Baba. I got into the passenger side of Er Jiu's old white van, and Baba was in the driver's seat, wearing his thick white jacket. I somehow knew he had come to see me in the dream, so I leaned over and held him tight, trying to capture the feel and smell of holding him again. He drove down Madre, and even though we were in the right side of the street, there was oncoming traffic in our lane. I started getting scared and asked Baba to turn into the parking lot of the 76 station. He assured me that it was OK, but I was still getting scared so he turned into the parking lot of the Kaiser on Foothill. We got out of the car and started walking into the building. I held him close and started crying. I was trying to tell him that I'm sorry I didn't talk him more when he was alive, and that I feel like I didn't talk enough. Because I was crying so much, my words were all jumbled and he laughed and repeated "Suff?" when I tried to say that I didn't "Sou (talk) enough." I said that it was because I always wanted to be independent but I wished that I spent more time at home and talking with him. He told me not to feel bad. We continued walking with my holding his arm, when Jack arrived out of nowhere. Jack called me name to ask me something, and I turned to him to say I would talk to him later. Baba had continued walking ahead, and looked back at me and smiled before turning a corner. I raced to the corner and he was gone. I kept looking for a while, but none of the people there were him. When I woke up, I was crying a lot thinking about it, but so glad to be able to see Baba one more time.

Nowadays, what I think of a lot is Baba's voice telling me, "I love you too" from the hospital bed, from when I told him how much I loved him and what great parents him and Mama were. I told him that my only fear in life was not being as good of a parent as they were, and he told me, "You have to have the strength to do what's right. Look at me and Mama, we were never scared." But I always go back to when he said, "I love you too."

I know he was always with us up to the end, because every night I would tell him, "Good night, Baba, I love you," and kiss his forehead, and he would always nod his head in recognition. Another image that sticks in my head is the last time he left the house. He was at home for about three hours before the Rose Hills people came. We said our final thank you and good bye, and then I remember them carrying him out of the front door in the stretcher while we watched.

I hope the wedding planning is going well. I love Lauren so much and can't wait to get married. Although it was surrounded by so much sadness, please don't ever forget how happy Baba looked when I came home to show him Lauren and I were engaged. He had been sleeping in the morning when I left, and did not open his eyes when I told him I was going to propose that day to Lauren. However, when I came home with her, his eyes were open and he had a big smile on his face while he was looking at me and Lauren. Mama said that he hadn't opened his eyes all day, but he was awake for us. by that time he was too tired to say anything, but May May had bought a cake and we all ate it around him in the family room to celebrate.

I hope we are all doing well, and that we have begun to accept Baba's departure. I know that he will always be with us in spirit, and will always be watching over us for the rest of our lives. I miss him so much and know that I always will, but I hope the hurt someday gets better. We did our best to give him the best possible service we could, and I hope he was happy with it. On the day of the burial, I placed a bird of paradise on his vault, for the ones we have by our driveway. And all the time, I think of Baba, and just want him to know I love him so much and am so thankful to have had him. Mama is doing OK, but I know it will just take time to heal.

Popo doesn't have much time left, but I hope she passes peacefully. I hope Matthew and Kaitlyn continue to be cute, and that they grow up learning how much Baba adored them. The picture in my mind will always be of one time where they were iChatting, and Baba kept telling the kids, "Gong Gong loves you, Gong Gong loves you!" Please do your best to let them know how much he loved them.

Anyways, I'll set this so that I'll receive it on the first, second, fifth and tenth anniversary of Baba's death, so that it will help me remember him.

As before, cherish your loved ones and take advantage of your time. Keep your body in good health and work hard at everything you do.