I last saw him on Friday the 26th, right before we had to leave to come back to Guam. We had hope that he'd fight through everything he was going through and continue to live a while longer. I knew things didn't look well, but he always had hope. He remained positive, and continued to say, "Everything will be okay."
My dad had a lot of health problems, and while he's had several of them for many, many years, they've only gotten worse in the last year or so. His organs were shutting down. He couldn't breathe without the help of his oxygen cannula or BiPAP machine. He was unable to walk or do anything on his own. Everyday there was a new problem, and something else he had to try to get through. I won't even go into everything he suffered from, but it was a lot, and it was hard to see him in that weakened state.
I will always regret my children not knowing him better. We've been part of the military life for fourteen years, and most of that has been spent overseas. We saw family between our moves, but that wasn't enough. I'm sad they'll never know him like I did. They'll never know where they get their sarcasm from. They'll never hear his crazy jokes and know how funny he was. They'll never understand why we're so stubborn. It's because it's all in the Lucero blood. But what I am grateful for is that they got to see him again. I'm even more glad that he got to see them. He knew we were there, and was so happy to see us.
At 12:19pm the day before he passed, my sister called me via video chat from his hospital room, and I was able to see and speak to him one last time. I told him that we had all made it back to Guam and that I loved him. His final words to me were, "That's good. I love you, too."
He didn't look well. He was a little out of it and in pain, but he looked at me through the phone and spoke those six words. Through his pain and fear, confusion and worry, he told me he loved me, and I'll never forget those final words. I'm so happy I got to see him and spend some time with him before he died. I wish I could've been there longer. I wish I could've been there more often. But I'm glad I saw him, hugged him, kissed him, and told him I loved him in person.
I got the news at around 6:20am the next morning. We all cried together that day. Since then, I've cried a lot. I've had random breakdowns while cooking dinner, after dropping my kids off at school, and while just laying in bed after waking up. I try to keep busy, but things are destined to slow down, and when they do, all I do is think and remember, and cry. My only solace now is that he isn't in pain anymore. He didn't deserve to suffer like that, and knowing he's not in pain makes it easier to deal with my own.
I'll continue to have my bad days, but he will live forever in my heart and memories. I recently saw a quote that explains grief pretty well.
"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim." - Vicki Harrison
I'm still learning. It took me a while to write this because I had to wait until I felt like it was a calm day and not an overwhelming day.
I know life goes on for the rest of us, and while writing isn't always what I feel like doing, especially during my emotional days, I'm not quitting. My dad always believed in me. He told me all the time how proud he was of me, and how he just knew that one day one of my books would make it big. So, I'm not going to stop working. I want to be able to prove him right.
I'm not much of a poet, but one day, during one of my emotional moments, I wanted to write out my feelings, and they came out in the form of a poem. It's probably not the best, but I want to share it anyway.
The sun sets and rises again, though you are not here.
How can I continue to function is one thing I fear.
But your memory must live on, and in my heart you’ll always be.
Though you left this earth, your blood continues to flow through me.
You always said I made you proud, and that memory will forever remain.
I miss you, Dad, but I’m glad you’re no longer in pain.
I may never be able to hear your laugh or roll my eyes at your silly jokes.
But I’ll always remember your love for music, and of course, for all the cokes.
You said you believed in me, and always wished only the best.
Though you won’t be here to see my accomplishments, I’ll remember your words above the rest.
Tonight the sun will set and the day will come to an end.
My heart will continue to be broken, but knowing you loved me will help it mend.
I love you, Dad.
I'll miss you everyday.