Our clinical lecture at Biochemistry was on a patient that was recently diagnosed with AIDS (the more severe extreme of HIV, which he had after a sexual interaction(s) in college) due to an opportunistic infection. The same one my father had passed away. Which I thought I was over with grieving after taking an "AIDS Science & Society" course in my undergrad. That course drained me. Outside of learning the biological mechanisms of the virus, the history of the pharmaceutical interventions for this disease, and the story of how AIDS came about - we also watched documentaries. Many, many documentaries that I found myself in tears after each one of them. Some were educational based like the National Geographic with factual information of those affected in Africa, while other documentaries were filming the relationship between a gay couple in San Francisco. With the latter one the most difficult to watch.
I wonder every day had I had the opportunity to have a conversation with my father again. I would do so much to have that moment, to hold his hand and tell him how much I am intrigued, inspired by his legacy. I want to be simply in his presence to have that dialogue with him that would fill me in so many ways. His relationship is the one I want the most. And I don't even know why. He was a stranger. I have no interpretation of who he is as an adult. My only few memories of him were as a child, sitting on his lap and playing with whatever "toys" were at his home. Which was not much since he was a professor. Books. He had many, many books. And art that he made himself. And cool clothes. That man had so much swag.
My god, knowing how he died really killed me. Just because, I wasn't there to experience it with him. Maybe it was for the best but I don't know how much I can agree with that even as the adult version of myself. I want to pretend it wasn't a big deal, that it was just something of part of my story. But its not the "story" itself that huts but the real loss is the obvious, he is not here. The real loss is not the how, the when, nor the why. God, how I wish so much that he was. I want to know what he would think of me, what he thinks of the people I love, my pursuit in Medicine, my ability to carry a conversation. I want him to like me and the woman I am becoming. I think of him every day and hope he has and is doing the same.
So, here is a letter he wrote me for my pre-school graduation to congratulate me for my 'success'. I hang this letter over my desk to remind me of the work I have ahead of me. And God only knows the amount of work that is ahead of me. I embrace it now, though, much more willingly than I had ever before. I think, ironically enough, it is through my father that I know I can do this. He was able to do so much in his life and I think it is because, he wasn't limited to any specific notion of how his life was "supposed" to be. I would want to believe had I had this conversation with him, he would sat to me something like this:
You are good. You will be fine. Not because of the blood that runs through you or the legacy that I and our family has left behind but because you are conscious of what you dream to be and who you want to be in this world. You do not have to worry about the extraneous interactions that may bring you down. Do not feel obligated to entertain those that care less about you or do not see you as who you are. You are capable and strong. For yourself. Never think less than that because you are of my own ... I love you.I really wish there was a way that I could bring him to me. To have this sort of conversation or any conversation. I realize that this may more or less look like this self-pep talk thingy but it is not. This actually means a lot to me and I hope that sharing this with you today, about the yesterday, provide insight of my roots and story that I emerge from. I miss him and pray for him and for those in the past, present, and future that are affected by AIDS. Like any unfortunate disease, fatality steals those that we love prematurely from our present lives. I just hope that one day, one day, I can provide people more time, more leeway - despite some fatal disease like cancer, Alzheimer's, AIDS - to spend with their families. So that, they can have that one more conversation with those that they love.