An open letter to my late dad

(With beers we could have had.)

This is a simple letter I felt like writing to my late dad. I feel like I’ve been writing contrived pieces just to please others, but today I write for myself.

So here we go:

Hey Pa, You died of ALS 10 years ago. That fucked up disease ravaged your body, turning you from a healthy man to somebody who could barely speak, walk or even dress himself.

You passed on in your sleep. I remember it was during the 2006 World Cup. You watched your last match and then took your last breath in the middle of the night.

It’s funny how diseases of the world, the deadly ones give us signs to prepare for people to die, but you’ll never be fully prepared anyway. It just doesn’t work like that.

When you went, it took all of us by shock. Ma literally had to wake up and realize you were still, too still and too cold.

She informed brother first, who then told me right after I got of the shower, in my boxers. I just got back from work then. It was really early in the morning.

That said, my last words to you were, “Bye Pa. I’m going to work” and you struggled a, “Bye” out of your mouth. I knew you had difficulty even with that. You were simply laying in bed starring into blank space with your mouth gaped opened.

How fucked up was that? My last words to you.

Know what else is fucked up? Pretty much the next ten years since you went.

Sometimes I wonder why I even cried so hard during your wake. We weren’t even close. Yet, I remember how painful it was. So many of us in this world grow up thinking that the bad shit you read in the news would never happen to you. But then it did to me, and I realized how real life really, really is.

I guess I had to grow up overnight and learn that life was truly that short.

Sometimes I am really mad at you. You were an angry, grouchy kind of father. Oh, you weren’t abusive or anything, but you were that typical aloof, Asian dad who didn’t talk much about feelings and stuff.

And then mom told me I am you. Exactly like you.

And then I felt it. In fact, I’ve been feeling it for the past ten years. The anger. The anger issues are really fucked up.

Why… did you give it to me?

I’m seeing a therapist for fuck’s sake.

But I guess I can’t blame you, though you know, it would have been nice if you were just there to talk more and not just punish me for every little thing.

I asked mom once, “Do you think we could have gotten along if he was still around?”

I really wonder about that.

Sometimes I think we wouldn’t. We would be two angry hot heads. I obeyed and feared you while growing up. I can just imagine losing my shit one day and taking it out on you.

But then again, I am you. I can imagine us bro-ing out over beers while I tell you about my life, my dreams, my goals, my exploits with girls and what I really love in life.

Maybe then, I could have finally said I love you without feeling awkward.

Who really knows eh?

I really wish you and mom actually told us that you had ALS. You guys kept it from us so we wouldn’t have to worry. It was fucking bizarre and worrying to see you degenerate like that!

I’d have told you so many things.

But I guess this letter would have to do for now.

With love, your son,

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