As the pandemic turned the world upside down, little did I know mine would change forever when a tragic accident claimed my father in October. I realised that adjusting to the virus was not my new normal, after all, that living life without my hero was. There wasn’t a day he didn’t call to remind me to stay safe, and now those calls have stopped forever. Reminiscing about the moments we spent together has been my source of comfort in this time of grief. On Father’s Day, I missed my usual early morning call to him because I’d overslept. Later, he teased me for slacking, saying that I needed to step up my game. “You lost your place as the winner this year.” I’d underestimated how much my calls meant to him.
As a first-generation college student, he encouraged me to go beyond my limits, never failing to show how proud he was of my achievements. He dreamt I'd use education as a stepping stone to break through our humble background, where survival is from hand to mouth. He taught me that I can do everything I put my mind to, and that if I studied hard to achieve my dreams, I’d become an independent woman.
When people talk about embracing change, they don’t mean the kind covid-19 imposed on the world alongside words like face masks, social distancing, regular hand-washing. They also don’t mean change that follows death. How one deals with that remains a mystery to me, but I do know that my dad’s death has reshaped my view of life. I am more reserved now, but I have learned to place value on friendships and relationships. I’ve come to accept that change can be an avenue for growth. Whenever I feel lonely, I find a quiet spot and repeat my positive affirmations: You are amazing, loved, and appreciated. You are what you believe and can do anything you resolve to do. Each time the situation overwhelms me, I think about what my dad would say to me, and slowly my worries dissipate.
In my loss, I share the pain of thousands of families worldwide who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Nothing prepares one for the shock of grief. Luckily, family and friends offer me comfort in these trying times. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I believe, and while 2020 has been a tough year, we will persevere.