The month of October is usually an emotional one. October 30, 1995 was the day that changed everything for me. That day changed the course of my life. And even (almost) 18 years later, I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day that I lost the first man I’ve ever loved.
That dreaded call came on any normal Sunday afternoon. My mom and I were on our way back home from Chinese school and usually checked our answering machine for messages. It was from one of my aunts in Taiwan and it sounded urgent, yet different. My mom quickly called her, even though it was a 12 hour difference and it was the crack of dawn on their end. When I heard my mom repeat what my aunt said, I immediately dropped to the floor and wailed. My world stopped that very moment. We were quickly booked onto the next flight and began to pack. My childhood best friend came by and just held me like a teddy bear. The flight was a blur. The next two weeks were surreal. I grew up Buddhist and funerals are very complex, meaning that the process could take weeks. The bright yellow taxi drove us to the morgue on a rainy day. I held onto my sister’s arm like there was no tomorrow, as we descended into the morgue. I was told by relatives not to cry for what I was about to see, due to a Taiwanese custom. As if a 12 year old is supposed to understand what was about to happen next. The freezer drawer was opened and there I saw my father’s lifeless body. I couldn’t believe it. He looked so peaceful, like he was sleeping. The funeral came and went, and it was time for my dad to be cremated. There were about 8 oven-like structures and I remember how the number “4” one was empty and even in death, that number is still a bad omen in Taiwanese culture. I saw my father’s casket go into the “oven” and after a few hours, we were told to pick out a “keepsake” if we wanted. We went to the family plot and laid him to rest a few days later. My mom and I flew home almost three weeks later and missing school for that long was usually unheard of. Teachers and peers didn’t know how to act around me. It was weird. Life went on like it never happened.
Lately, people have talked about how far into their childhood can they remember. And honestly, everything before the death of my father is a blur. It’s almost as if my life didn’t truly begin until his death. Like I was somehow reborn. A traumatic event never leaves you, but over time the pain slowly goes away. I was daddy’s little girl. There are still moments in my adult life where I have a good cry and wish that he was here. I think he would have loved who I married. I hope that he would be proud of the person I’ve become. He would have supported us in this adventure Hubs and I are on. I miss him terribly. I can’t believe it’s been almost 18 years…and how I would give anything to “dance with my father again”.
Our last family picture (taken at my sister’s college graduation). Who would have thought that we would lose him 1 year, 5 months and 7 days later.