December 25th is only a few short weeks away, and the 2018 year has nearly elapsed. What immediately pops into your mind when you think of the month of December? Perhaps Christmas, which will more than likely evoke memories of giving and receiving presents as well as spending time with loved ones. As a child, you may remember, the keen awareness of your bubbling excitement beginning to erupt in your very body and soul as you approached the big guy in red. The anticipation as you stand in line, waiting to tell Santa that you want and deserve the latest toy you saw on TV several months before, all because you have ,indeed, been obedient and good. Or perhaps, you may think of traditions, such as the celebration of Jesus Christ at church on Christmas Eve. Imagine the serene, comfortable candle lit sanctuary where you are surrounded by a joyous and elated community, worshipping together. There are countless traditions and memories that surface when a person reflects on the month of December. My Decembers are bittersweet as it is a time for remembering.
This December on the 18th day, marks the tenth year since that cold, bleak wintery night, when my life was changed forever. It was very late at night when my aunt arrived from the efficient and accommodating hospital, a 15 minute drive from my house. The look on her face told a different story from the one her lips refused to communicate. After a while she delivered the devastating, heart-breaking and earth-shattering news. My dad, my sweet, kind and strong daddy was gone. The colon cancer he had been battling, had taken over and it had won. How could this be? He had always been so confident that he would endure and conquer the disease slowly festering in his body. As she told us the crushing news, I could not process the harsh reality that he was really gone. My innocence could not comprehend that I would never see, talk or hug him again, it was not like the other times when we bid our "good-byes" and "I love you's", only to come back to the hospital the next day to visit. No, this was different than my other experiences with dying loved ones. In the same year, my grandmother passed away and aside from her, my only other encounters with death occurred when a dog, cat or very distant relative died. As someone who was very young, nearly six years old, I was not able to connect all of the time spent at the doctor, hospital and visiting friends and family, with him dying. The month of December in 2008 was a period of time when the alluring, exciting and magical feeling of Christmas and Santa Claus was emphasized and especially present in my life. My parents, I believe, wanted to give me something to numb what would become the grim reality of our family's fate, as my dad grew sicker.
Since his death, I have come to revere and respect him for everything he did and especially for the man that he was. He was a very loved, respected, honest and generous man; the type of person, one could only dream of being. In his last few months, even though his body was suffering with immense pain and tribulation, he encouraged his four children and wife to continue living, loving and believing in their family. December used to not mean very much to me, only a time spent with family and wishing for gifts, delicious desserts and signs Santa had visited. Today, December means so much more to me. It is a time for remembering, reflecting and rejoicing.
Family has and will always be the foundation and very center of my December. Family is at the core and heart of my identity, without my family, I do not know who I would be. Even though, my dad is no longer here; his legacy lives on through our memories and the members of our family. All of the new members of my family and newly shared love is a thrilling comfort. I am filled with sadness and joy when I think of how many experiences and memories that my dad has missed in the last ten years, but I know he is happy that I am living my life full and happy. I hope he is proud of the leadership, confidence, strength and admiration I have gained since I last saw him. It is only in the month of December, that I am able to reflect and remember my dad. While the rest of America becomes a bustling nation filled with booming business and a flourishing economy, I find time for solace and peace. The world is constantly progressing and urging us to have a year brimming with new adventures, friends and experiences. There is no other month that is perfect than the last one, for recalling the previous months of the year. My month of December will always be bittersweet as I rejoice for the time I do have with my family and honor my dad with memories. As David Eagleman once said, “There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.” I intend to keep my dad's legacy alive as well as savour those still in my life, before they slip away and the memories fade away from the very short life I was given.