It’s been three months.. I (we) miss you so much. Not a second goes by that we don’t think of you. It’s still so hard to comprehend what has happened. I didn’t want to write about this because it somehow makes everything real and I don’t want it to be real. There will dates ingrained in my memories forever. October 20, 2019, you went to the hospital. On October 22nd, the doctor told Eleni and me that you had a tumor in your lung. Eleni panicked and was ready to know the next steps and I just froze. On October 24th, we found out it was stage 4 lung cancer. And the worst day ever was August 4th. I dreamt that you were crossing the street with pep in your step. You lowered your sunglasses and smiled. About an hour later, my cell phone rang. It was hospice. You had taken your last breath.
I really thought you were going to beat it. You said from that day you were going to fight and not give up. And you did just that. You never gave up. You were strong and brave and such an advocate for yourself. I have never been more proud of you; I just hope you know that. We set up treatments and appointments and everything seemed to be going ok and then lockdown happened. I don’t think we have ever spent that much time together, but I’m so grateful for the extra time we got with you. We didn’t always see things the same way, but we were at the point of finally understanding each other and realizing that I’m so much like you. I think both of our stubbornness should’ve been a clue that we’re almost the same person. We went on our walks, drank coffee together, enjoyed sitting outside and on the couch together watching Greek soccer. You told me stories that I’ve never heard before and it made me wish I had always asked you to tell me more stories. You’re the kind of person that everybody gravitated towards, the life of the party and always smiling and willing to help somebody out. Probably more than you should have, but that’s just who you were.
Things changed at the end of May. You survived a stroke. Holding your hand waiting for the ambulance was unbelievable. They told us you wouldn’t make it or ever talk and walk again, but you showed them! Then you had a heart attack in my arms one of the days I had just brought you home from the hospital. That was so scary because I didn’t want to be the reason you didn’t survive if I didn’t call the ambulance on time. Then you had more stays at the hospital and in and out of emergency rooms by yourself because they wouldn’t let people in the hospitals. But each time you came back and with more will power. I didn’t want to leave your side and watched you breathe while you slept because I was so worried. The last time you went to the hospital, I walked you to the car and made sure you put your seatbelt on and I told you to come back quickly. You said ok. You never did come back home. That week in the hospital I told you I needed you back home and you said we’ll see. They did one last procedure on you and told us to come say our goodbyes. We thought that was it, but the next day you surprised us all. Dio flew in that morning and you cried. Afroditi was still trying to get a flight from Melbourne, but was denied the first time so we tried again. You tipped the ICU nurse a $20 and told her to treat herself to coffee. That day they told us you didn’t have quality of life and hospice was our only option. Ma didn’t even know that word. How could we explain to her what that meant? Everything happened so fast.
You spoke to us the first few days in hospice, but the last words you said (in Greek) were wine, sunflower seeds, watermelon and frappe (iced coffee). We had to take turns staying with you because they only let three of us in at a time. You were strong and waited for Afroditi to come. She had to wear all this PPE to see you. We held your hands and I played with your hair. You looked like you were resting. They said you weren’t in pain, but we were. Aside seeing you like that, seeing Ma go through this was so heartbreaking. Spending every day with somebody for 40 years and then all of a sudden having them taken away from you is soul and heart crushing. And on top of that, Ma lost her older brother from lung cancer as well three weeks later. How is this possible, universe?
Then one day, the harpist played some music for you and the priest came and said a prayer. Afroditi told you that everything will be ok and you said, yeah. Like how you normally say yeah. You hadn’t spoken in over a week, but you said that. We thought we were imagining it, but we weren’t. You were there for eleven days. You didn’t give up. Your body wasn’t communicating with your heart or mind. You still had so much life left.
I’m angry and sad and lost. I’m probably still in denial. In fact, writing this all out seems so weird. It’s like I’m writing a fictional story. My mom, siblings and brother-in-laws are the only people that I can really talk to about this. We can just look at each other (in person or FaceTime) or send a message and know exactly how the other is feeling. Everything is so weird- his car in the garage, his cologne in the bathroom, his essence in the house… it’s like he’s out for coffee, but then it’s like you’re waiting by the door and he doesn’t walk in. How do you go on? How do you live without the greatest love and presence in life? How do people expect you to go on normally or to function day to day. I know I’m not the person I used to be. I have to learn to live a new way and it’s very difficult. Yes, there are distractions and time, but I don’t like any of that.
My dad was a simple man, a hard-worker. He really did try his hardest. Moving an entire family with four kids under the age of seven, to a new country with a new language and giving us opportunities that we probably would not have had in Greece is the best thing he did. Well that, and marrying my mom because she truly is an angel. My dad did bring us closer together. I hadn’t seen my brother since last year and I hadn’t seen my younger sister in three years. He brought us all together for one last time. I’ll never forget our last moments together.
There is so much going on in the world right now, but if you can, hold your love ones real close. Tell them how much they mean to you and forget the things that don’t really matter.
Daddy mou, we love you. We miss you. You’re forever with us.
There are so many more photos and memories. My dad was supposed to be around for years. I will never understand why this happened. The pain is too much. I hate the fact that I published this because it’s really real. I know you’re looking out for us from above, but your love is missed immensely.