You could say my dad and I were never really close. He was always working, he’d come late at night and leave early in the morning. He was a manager and even worked in Irak as a mechanic on a military base. You could picture him as a soldier-personality type. The kind that are stubborn, firm and you had to answer “Sir, yes sir” to everything. We had a rough past that I might share someday; for now, just know that there were a lot of unpleasent feelings in our relationship.
The night before that call
My dad was never a loving father, at least in a physical nor a verbal way. His way of loving was providing to his family. You would never receive a hug or praise from him since according to him, you could always do better.
One night, he came back from Irak after 6 months of being away and came to my room as a different man. He started sharing to me about how sorry he was for everything he did to me, for not being a different father, for some things about our past and even saying he loved me. Coming from a relationship with no feelings of love, this was everything I always wanted to hear; I was shocked. Surprisingly, I did not know how to feel, what to say or what to do. So I did what any 16 year old kid would do, I made it awkward. My dad hugged me, crying his eyes out asking for forgiveness and I couldn’t hug him back. I was so filled with emotions that I just stood there frozen while he cried on my shoulder, I was numbed.
And so I got the call
The next day, my dad went to work with my uncle since he was not planning on going back to Irak as he wanted to spend more time with us. At night, I realized my mom was not at home, which seemed weird but I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I received the call at that time, one of my dad’s co-worker called me, I picked up the phone and without an ounce of warmth he said “Kid, your dad is dead. He was shot, he is laying on the street dead and your mom is next to him crying”. I said “Ok”, hung up and stayed in silence. It may have been denial or shock but I just couldn’t process what had been told to me. I felt nothing, my mind had shut down completely.
Healing the scar
I did not cry for my father that day nor I did at the funeral. Many people judged me for not crying thinking that I didn’t love him. I did love him, he was my father but I was not ready to cry. It took me nearly 4 years to finally cry on his memory due to another event that I’ll leave for a different day.
So many times I have regretted not hugging my dad back that day, not telling him that I loved him. I actually hated myself for that. It was until one beautiful night on a trip to San Francisco that some friends told me that I didn’t have to feel that way. That I was only 16 and that my dad knew how I felt and why I reacted that way. That my dad was sure that I loved him. I’m always very hard on myself and I don’t allow myself to make mistakes. You can imagine how these words stuck in me. They were saying “It’s ok if you didn’t know better”.
There isn’t a love so pure than the one parents have for their children. They raise us without any expectations to get something back other than watching us having a happy life.
My mom told me how my father had so many expectations on me. He would tell her that I was intelligent, strong and kind; I couldn’t believe it. My mom kept on explaining how I was all he talked about and he put so much pressure on me, because he knew I could do a lot more than he ever did, because he believed in me. I then told my mother that I admired my father and I always saw him as my hero, which is why his tough love always hurt me. I loved my father and he loved me, both on our own way. In a way that not everybody would agree or understand, but we did.
Love your parents if you still have them with you, they might not be there one day. Teach them how to love you as they might just not know how, and if you believe your parents are too hard on you, ask about their childhood to relatives, you will be amazed on how rough that was and how far they went to give you a different life. They improved, they grew; and it is our time to do the same for our future generations. Don’t judge your parents as you don’t know their past. Love them since they love you as no one will ever do.
You might no be here anymore but in my heart, I’ll always love you dad.