My life changed forever on this day…
I was working at the school district. My dad got me the job when I, the prodigal daughter, returned to my hometown pregnant, alone, afraid and out of options. I found out my dad had cancer four days after the pregnancy test showed that I indeed had a human life inside of me. The short story I’m about to tell, though, isn’t about me or my baby. I had a healthy, beautiful little girl. Her birth changed the trajectory of my life and probably saved me. I’ve written about her in several other posts. This short story is about Daddy.
Dad and I sat at the dining room table eating Luby’s during my lunch break. What I was about to encounter was one of the most difficult moments of my life. It still haunts me in my nightmares to this day.
I knew cancer had invaded my dad’s body, but every bone in my body knew he would beat it. He was an athlete and coach, and although he may not have always won the game or the race, what I knew for sure was that he knew how to fight the good fight.
Dad was always healthy as a horse. I rarely recall him being sick. He also didn’t get depressed or a anxious. If he did have a temporary moment of despair, it passed quickly or I wasn’t aware. So, when the diagnosis of cancer became a reality, I thought it would be a temporary setback, but there was no way he would lose his life.
That day he glanced over at me, crocodile tears forming in his eyes, and grabbed my hand.
“Love,” he gently said my parents’ nickname for me.
“What Daddy?” I mumble and jump up from my chair as the tears began to spout from my eyes.
“I’m going to die,” he said as he crumpled in my arms.
I felt like the adult, he was the child.
“No daddy, don’t say things like that, you’re not going to die, you’re not!”
I don’t recall any more words being spoken at the table that day. I just remember holding on tight, not wanting to let go.
Less than a few months later, my dad’s words became a reality. He died at 52. His youngest son had just graduated from high school, he had four young grandchildren that he adored, he and mom had just celebrated 30 years of marriage, and he hadn’t even reached retirement.
Dad did fight the good fight, but the Lord had other plans for him. Stuart Scott said in his ESPY speech:
When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.
So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.
I always imagine Daddy crumpling into Jesus’s arms the way he did with me that day. He didn’t have to fight anymore. Jesus welcomed him to the mansion prepared for him…and he was greeted by those who went before him.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. I still have dreams where he is back on this earth with us healthy and strong again, and cancer and death were just nightmares. What keeps me going is the faith that he is somewhere far better than this place…forever free.He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
We love you and miss you daddy, but we know we will see you again.
Please visit dad’s Facebook remembrance page and read all the wonderful tributes people have left by clicking here: In Remembrance of Alfredo Boxer Hernandez