“Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad.”
Batting practice. Forehands with topspin. Free throws. Filipino breakfast recipes. How to be a leader of others. How to never ever give up on your dreams.
I’ve learned a lot of good stuff from my dad.
I was also forbidden to hang out with boys—talking on the phone, dating, etc.—while all of my friends had their first teenage romances in junior high. One time, one of my guy friends gave me a hug goodbye and my dad almost busted a gut. The combo of being his only daughter and his younger sisters getting married and have kids at a young age made romance only available in my Sweet Valley High books and 90210 episodes.
So for the first thirteen years of my life, my dad was the man in my life. He coached me, challenged me, and was my biggest fan.
And one day—the week before my junior high graduation—just like that, he passed away.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that the loss of a parent is one of the most devastating things anyone could ever live through. And because the heart attack came out of nowhere, it took me a long time to realize he was really gone. Most mornings, I’d wake up thinking it was just the most horrific nightmare. Other times, I’d replay the voicemail he left us one time on our message machine so I could remember what he sounded like. And while I was in high school and now free to date any boy I wanted, I would’ve traded in everything to have the man in my life back.
But life goes on . . . and so did I. And while I thought that the years of being forbidden not to date would make me a crazy dating machine in high school; college, ironically I ended up spending more time on me, chasing my dreams and hoping, along the way, I’d stumble across love.
I dated five boys, kissed seven, and had one boyfriend before that fateful night I met my soul mate. The rest of those days, months, and years, I was dating ME. And looking back, it’s the one relationship I’m most proud of. Maybe that’s what he was trying to teach me all those years.
Now, as I head towards this new adventure with the new man in my life, I find myself missing my dad a lot more. Sure, I’m bummed he won’t get to walk me down that sandy aisle and dance that first dance. But I’m more wishing he was here the day I got engaged, so he could whisk me up and spin me around like he used to; and I wish he could meet my hubby-to-be because I’ve come to see how similar they are in so many ways—they’re both Scorpios (according to the old zodiac chart!), have magnetic personalities, love baseball and all things sports, and teach, push, cheer, and love me every single day.
Instead, I’ll be keeping my favorite photo of the two of us with me on our wedding day. It’ll be tucked in my purse, as a reminder that he’ll be there too.