I've put off this post for as long as possible. Holidays have flown by, and I knew it needed to be done at some point, but I left it for the latest possible moment. Its New Years Day at the moment on my side of the world, 1:11AM to be exact, and the beginning of 2014. I'm hoping for a much better year this year, so let's kick it off with a fresh post.
2013 is the year that I lost my father. It has been just over 3 months, and quite honestly I don't quite know how I am dealing with it, or how I feel for that matter. I'm sad, obviously, but something just feels amiss. It scares me to think that I'm not feeling sad enough, like I should be a lot more depresses than I currently feel. I look at my sister and see how she is taking it. She seems to push through each day, fighting the urge to cry because she misses him so much. My mom has her moments too, but she seems to be keeping herself as busy as possible, and she obviously misses him lots too. My brother, well he is exactly like how my dad was, who knows exactly what he is feeling.
Then there is me.
I cried a lot on the evening he passed away, as well as the next day. I was surprisingly composed on the day of his funeral, feeling teary eyed, but not really letting it out. The rest of the weeks that followed have seen me just living in a void. I pushed through my assignments and exams, even though I had no push whatsoever to get them done. I passed, thank God for that. Varsity aside, I've just been living through each day as normally as possible. Yet, this is what scares me. I know I have not grieved, not even begun to do so. That's why I put off this entry for so long, because I knew it would be the opening I need to just let it all out. Yet here I am, and I'm just blank. I feel sad, but I don't really feel much else either. It really, really bothers me. I don't want this to be something that will come back to haunt me in the years to come.
The reason I am writing today specifically, not just because it's the start of a new year, is that it would also have been my dad's 67th birthday. 67 is nothing. I always took pride in telling my friends how healthy he was, walking a fair distance 6 days a week at the market, getting stock for the shop. He also ate relatively healthy, lots and lots of fruit and veg in-between all the random every day drunk. Then he gets hit with everything at once, with Cancer being the worst of the lot.
It was stage 4 lung cancer, something which doesn't really seem to have a cure. Yet we were hopeful, because we all knew that nothing is impossible. I can't even begin to describe how shit I feel about the times I confronted my dad about his smoking. You remember it don't you? I wrote about it too. The guilt, its overwhelming and it sits in me like a poison. My dad just couldn't seem to quit smoking, something which seems so absurd considering that he had lung cancer. Yet, maybe he knew his time was limited, maybe he just wanted to make his last few months just that little bit more bearable. Then there is me, letting it slide for a good few months until the day I exploded. During my life, I have had many an argument with my dad where I was obviously way out of line (with lots of shouting in the process). These arguments though pale in comparison to the shit I gave my dad. I've never shouted him so loudly in my life, never given him such a piece of my mind. If only I had known, if only I had known...
I just hope he knows that I really did it with the intention of trying to motivate him to quit, because I really wanted him to get much better.
The last week of his life was the worst. I watched my dad literally age 20-30 years (at least that's what it looked like). He looked fragile and aged, and he barely had the energy to walk and get around. He didn't even have the energy to smoke. Those last moments of his life feel like a lifetime ago, as well as a bad dream. My mom and I heard him collapse, something that wasn't particularly unusual in that last week. We ran to the bathroom to find him sitting on the floor by the door. I still smiled and comforted him, telling him that it was alright and we would help him up. I only saw him from behind though, and when I circled to face him, something wasn't right. I don't know what was going through his mind in those final moments, but I know he was with us. He looked at my mom and I, before he lay back and his eyes closed. The rest is a blur. I just know that between my mom and myself, we got hold of my brother and told him to come ASAP, as well as an ambulance to come and get my dad. My sister was out at gym or boxing and obviously wouldn't look at her phone until much later.
I remember being alone with my dad, trying to find a pulse. My mom was trying to make a call to the ambulance I think. I started telling my dad that I needed him to fight, that he still had so much to do. I do think he did die as soon as he lay back. The trip to the hospital was in vain. I would love to know what was his last thought as his life left him. All I know is that he looked at my mom and I. No amount of words can ever capture that evening. It's series of images blended together in my mind.
My dad will never watch me graduate. My dad will never watch me become an author. My dad will never watch me get married. My dad will never be a granddad to my kids. I know I wasn't the best son, but I know he always loved me no matter what. He was taken too soon, too soon. I never did anything to make my dad proud, and it breaks my heart that he won't be around to witness me fulfilling any of my deepest dreams. I love you dad. I'm so sorry for all I didn't do, and all I should have done. We miss you. This house feels so bizarre without you. It doesn't feel real at all, it feels like you'll be home any day now. I need to learn to start accepting your departure.
I did say something at his funeral, I'll just leave it here...
I can't really add much to what everybody has said before me, but I can say that one of my biggest dreams whilst growing up as a child was that I would get to spend more time with my dad. He was an incredibly hard worker, leaving for work early in the morning and arriving home much later in the evening. I wish the circumstances could have been different, but my dad did spend most of the last 9 months at home. Even through these difficult times, my dad loved treating me to lunch. It is hard to describe why these excursions were so valuable. It wasn't a matter of eating non homemade food, or anything fancy. It was his way of spoiling and making time to spend with me.
I cannot even begin to find a way to describe him effectively, there are no real words that could truly capture the qualities he had. It may sound incredibly clichéd, but I consider myself beyond lucky to be blessed with the one and only Tony Figueira as my father. On the exterior, he may have come across as a hard man, but we all know that once a person got to know him, they realised just what an incredibly soft heart he had. He always put others first, always always always!
I am incredibly honoured to call myself one of his sons. It brings me so much joy to look around this room, seeing just how many people knew him, and how many people he had the opportunity to tell one of his classic jokes to. Nobody knew how to tell a joke like my dad did! His humour was core to his character, and he never missed the opportunity to make others smile and laugh. God may know every joke in the book, but I'm pretty sure he still laughs when my dad tells one.
Daddy, It was a shock when you were admitted into hospital at the end of last year, but I consider the last 9 months to be a blessing from God, as we got to spend just that little bit of extra time with you. As difficult as it was, I now know we were just being prepared to say goodbye.
Dad, you will be so missed. No longer will I hear that backdoor slam in the evening, signalling your arrival home. No longer will I be able to see your smile, hear your laugh, or look into your eyes. All I know is that you left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten. You left me in the hands of an amazing mother and phenomenal siblings, and I am surrounded by such incredibly family and friends. I know that you will never be forgotten, only missed more than you could ever know.
On behalf of myself and the Figueira family, I would just like to extend my thanks to everybody who had a hand in getting everything ready for this difficult day, as well as a big think you to Father Tony. Also, thank you to every single one of you for your incredible support during this difficult time. The amount of times we got told "please call me if you need anything" was just amazing. My mom is a florist, so it's not unusual to have the house packed with so many flower arrangements, but the amount of flowers we have received has just been overwhelming, and we really appreciate it. I know that we are truly blessed to have such amazing family and friends!
We would like to invite you to join us in the hall afterwards for some drinks and snacks. If it's one thing my dad loved, it was people. He loved being surrounded by family and friends, telling jokes and just interacting with those around him. I cannot think of a more fitting way to spend today then honouring what my dad loved. Remember, we are not here to mourn my dad's death. Instead, we are here to honour the life he had and the legacy he has left behind. As my brother mentioned, my dad's birthday falls on New Year each year. Yes, the beginning of each year may be sad as we reflect on the passing of a great gentleman, but let's remember to celebrate the life of Tony Figueira, remembering all the lessons he taught us, the example he was, and the smiles he always so generously donated.
There are various pitfalls from 2013, but this post is quite long as it. I'll keep it focussed on my dad though, as it would have been his birthday today. I do feel a little better, but more will follow in the days to come I'm sure. Happy New Years everybody, and Happy Birthday Dad. Love you and miss you! May 2014 be a much better year with more smiles and laughter, something you always brought to everyone's lives.