Like waves, grief never stops

How my dad affects my life post-mortem

Courtesy Lory Saint-Fleur

Dead dad. It’s a cloud that lingers over my head every day.

Every day for the past two and a half years, grief has ruined my peace of mind. Nowadays, I forget about it for a day or two, but simple reminders ruin my routine of simple ignorance and forgetfulness.

Grief sneaks up on me on the most random days. From a TikTok of a bride doing a first look with her dad, to a tall Black man who bears a minimum resemblance, grief has a way to get you anywhere.

My father passed away from colon cancer in April 2021.

I always heard that there were five steps to grief. First comes denial, then anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Grief is an everlasting circle of these emotions. For me, the angry stage came very early on and it inhabited me.

I had to go back to work a week or two after the funeral. I remember sitting at the bus stop, looking at the cars moving, people walking, trees swinging with the soft wind and I just wondered how life could have stopped for me and not for anyone else.

How could I go back to my everyday life with this incredible weight on my heart? How can I keep on living my life, and feel happy and laugh? How am I going to graduate without him cheering me on? How will I get married without him walking me down the aisle?

I was angry with myself mostly. I felt like we could have done so much more together: Take more pictures, go on our dream trip to Europe. I should have hugged him more often. I should have told him that I loved him more often, but I was a teen and puberty was putting me through hell.

I cherish the 19 years that I had the pleasure to call him ‘Papi,’ which is dad in Creole. I am simultaneously mourning the years that we could have spent together. Happy moments that will be missed, birthdays, graduations, and weddings. These happy moments are tainted by loss.

Every moment has somehow become bittersweet, tainted by the feeling of absence. 

As days, months, and years go by, I sometimes get scared that I am forgetting his voice or forgetting my limited number of memories that we have together. I am grateful to have witnessed the life that he lived, the dedication that he had to his family and the love that he was able to spread to everyone that he met.

This grief is a part of me. It makes me remember that life is short. Too short for regrets. Too short to worry about everything. Too short to care about what others think. This grief has made me hold the people close to me a little harder and I believe that you should do that too.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 5, published October 31, 2023.