My life as I know it will never be the same. Back in April 2020, I decided I would write about my quarantine experience every month. However, I haven’t written since November because life…The last three months of my life have changed me. Here’s how:
I moved out on my own. I watched an ungodly amount of HGTV and spent hours upon hours on the websites of Amazon, Ikea, Wayfair, Ashley Furniture, and more, searching for decor inspiration. I also consumed The Home Edit on Netflix for organizational ideas. My dad was a huge cheerleader in me leaving the nest. He took me furniture shopping and is the reason I have the blue couch in my living room. It was an adjustment. Living alone is lonely, there’s a lot of quiet time, but it’s also liberating. I can light candles, without someone telling me to be careful; I can delay washing dishes, without someone insisting that I should; I can even dance like no-one is watching, because no one is watching; I am alone. It’s lonely. I sometimes miss my family but It is such a powerful thing to live solo and I urge people to do so at least once in their life. While I do get scared (I am the ultimate scaredy cat), I enjoy it and I am emboldened by this independence. I can check moving out off my goals list.
November 2020-February 2021
Cancer is a horrific disease. I’ve heard my mom use the word demonic when describing it, and yet, my dad and another close family member who does not want to be disclosed, suffers/suffered from it. From November to January, my dad was in and out of Mount Sinai Hospital. My mom was the primary caregiver. She was by his side every single day. I saw the brokenness in her face. The tiredness. The faith. In my dad, I saw the pain. The suffering. The faith. I come from a family of faith. We believe in Jesus Christ the healer, the provider, and the savior. Not once did the faith of my family ever waiver.
I struggled. I struggled with ambivalence. With fear. With anxiety. I didn’t want to see how bad it was really getting. How skinny he was getting. His mind going. His pain intensifying. Yet and still, I had faith. I truly believed God would bring him through. Maybe I used my faith as a distractor or a coping mechanism, but I needed to believe he would make it. Maybe that’s why I was able to compartmentalize.
The beeping of the hospital reign loud in my head. Sometimes I miss it because it represents him still being there, still fighting. I can lay on his stomach and hear it go up and down and know he’s still on this earth. I can hold his hands and feel the warmth of it’s embrace around my own. I remember, on MLK day, I fell down the train station stairs on the way to the hospital and as I was telling the nurse, my dad awoke from his nap and said “My daughter is so clumsy.” He laughed and it felt good to know that he understood me even in such a vulnerable moment. The following weekend, my dad as I knew him would never be the same. While in the ICU, I remember looking up at the board that showcases the age and condition for everyone in the unit; ages ranging from 44-99. I remember thinking to myself, he’s the second youngest here and you’re going to take him God? He’s only 57. But life is so randomized. There are people who live to 109 and people who live for 9-hours. You just never know. The term life is short hits different now.
On February 3rd at 11:17 PM, my dad passed away with a smile on his face. He was surrounded by love – we were with him until the very end. We let him listen to his favorite songs, both oldies and gospel. One of my best friends stayed on the phone with me throughout. I consider the smile he left us as a gift. While I am sure he saw his loved ones on the other side including his mother, sister, and our dog Charlie, I feel blessed to know that he was happy. His smile was bright. His teeth were showing. I immediately had peace. We all did.
My dad was a creative. He was the first insight I had into an entrepreneur. He lived and breathed media and production. He was a content creator. He walked around with a camera bag when he had to do shoots. He was self-taught. He was the king of corny dad jokes. He loved when people made assumptions about him so he could prove them wrong. Most times he did. Sometimes he didn’t. He was the Tenant Association President for my former apartment building. During the pandemic he did so many amazing things for the community including free groceries for seniors. He was kind. He was a mentor. Many people considered him a father figure. He was multifaceted. He was complex. That’s what made him so unique.
In the last three months I moved out, lost my dad to Stage 4 Cancer, helped plan a funeral for the first time, and took almost a month off from a very high pressure job to process it all. But I now know that on the other side of all of this pain, grief, and loss is a breakthrough. God has given my family supernatural strength to handle this situation and I plan to heal and come out on the other side better than ever before because my dad would not have it any other way.