For over a year now, this blog has been not only an outlet for me to share what I love with others; it has simultaneously been my therapy in coping with a personal struggle that I haven’t chosen to discuss until now. For five years, my dad battled Parkinson’s Disease and this past summer on July 25th, the disease won.
It’s been seven months now, but I am just now regaining the feeling in my fingers after my entire body went numb that day. My numbness has gradually been replaced by a splintering pain as reality has set in. Grief is such an indescribable process. No motivational quote or cliché gets rid of the acerbic taste that grief leaves in your mouth. And there is no easy way to explain what it tastes like.
So, rather than try and articulate a feeling that one only knows from experience, I am turning to this blog to share the things I would say to my dad were he here today in the hope that it brings comfort to those dealing with loss and gives you a sense of just how wonderful a man he was.
Letter 1: Midnight Pad Thai Memories
It’s past midnight and I am lying here awake again, thinking about you and missing you more with each passing day. The thoughts that come to me this time of night are always seemingly out of the blue, and yet I can’t help but think that you want me to remember the memories that come to mind.
Tonight, I was crafting up new recipes in my head and was reminded of that Thai restaurant we discovered about a year ago. Our weekend lunches were by this time a sacred part of the week and I was nervous that the restaurant wouldn’t live up to our expectations. The many meals leading up to this one had made us food snobs, and your palette had gotten particularly fickle the past couple of months, so I was determined not to let you down in choosing this nondescript hole-in-the-wall. Pulling into the parking lot that day, I remember feeling so thankful to find a parking spot that was nearly flush against the front door of the restaurant. Nothing used to give me more anxiety than watching you try and lift your feet off the ground to take each step from the car to the restaurant; the shorter the distance the better.
We quickly got seated without a hitch and your face immediately lit up. The cheap decor and the distinct aroma of lemongrass and fish sauce were clear signs that this place was the real deal. So of course, when the waitress arrived ready to take our order, you wanted her whole back story. What part of Asia was she from? Does she speak the language? No, these probably weren’t the questions you should be asking someone you’ve just met – especially if a bad first impression affects whether or not that person spits in your food – but you had no filter (a side effect of Parkinson’s) and I couldn’t help but smile at your curiosity. It was always one of my favorite qualities about you. Your curiosity for life and interest in others always sparked new adventures and chance encounters that we would have never otherwise had. These were the moments I lived for, and they reminded me of who you were in your prime. Maybe the delivery wasn’t quite as smooth as before, but the intention was the same. Thankfully, our waitress obliged with a smile and soon, we had ordered our obligatory shrimp pad thai and Mongolian beef to share at the table.
Of course, by this point chopsticks required fine motor skills that you had lost, so I spent most of the lunch hoping any of the noodles you attempted to grasp would reach your mouth. Those that did, however, you loved, and I breathed a sigh of relief that our lunch was a success. What our waitress and anyone else in the restaurant wouldn’t have known is that these lunches were one of the few hours in the day that you didn’t spend on the couch, and were often the only times you even left the house. I never wanted to disappoint you by taking you somewhere you wouldn’t like because I knew how important these moments were. These lunches were the only thing you had left that bore any resemblance to life before you got sick.
We held on to our weekend lunches as long as we could and I live to remember these moments even when it prevents me from falling asleep at night. I wouldn’t trade these memories with you for the world and would give anything to share a plate of pad thai with you right now.
Love you infinitely,