Having to sit down and write this was the hardest thing I've ever done. I don't know how to articulate just how much you mean and have meant to me over the years. I feel like trying to write about it diminishes your memory somehow.
Because here's the thing... I knew what kind of father I had. I knew how special you were. How giving, kind, loving, compassionate, brilliant- the list can go on forever. I know what you were. And what we, as a family had. And now, what we’ve lost.
Papa, you told me so many times over the years and especially these last months how proud you were of us but I’m the one who is so proud. I am so honored to be your daughter. To have been raised in the shadow of your greatness--
When my dad was first diagnosed with Glioblastoma I sat in one of the doctor's offices looking over his shoulder as he put some information about my father in his database. I read the small blurb fairly quickly: Hedayat Abedi. 70 years old, Male. Lives an active life, no prior illnesses. Reported symptoms, etc. etc. And I remember how it made me so mad.
I was mad because that little blurb that was in every hospital computer that we went to did not tell my dad's story. Suddenly, his entire life had been summed up in 5 sentences - broad strokes that signified only a small moment in time within the great life that was his.
Let me tell you who my dad was.
Hedayat Abedi left home when he was a young child and lived in a mosque to pursue his education. When he was in his early 20s, he took on a tutoring job that would change his life forever. My mom. He took one look at my mother and knew she was his wife and the love of his life.
He was a father. The most amazing father a daughter could ask for. He was a grandpa. He was a friend. He was dedicated to his job. He loved his job. He was an inventor. He was a foodie. He loved all kinds of food but was just as happy to have a simple rice and yogurt. He was the kind of man who would buy a car for himself and turn around and give it to one of his two girls because they asked for it. He had an incredible amount of patience. And love.
He was amazing. Kind. Generous. Sweet. He would take a piece of paper with an ant on it and stick it outside, with this one action, teaching me to respect all life. That everything on earth was alive with a soul and feelings. He was always reading. Always trying to learn more, be more, help more. He loved to laugh and had the best laugh. And was so witty with the sharpest sense of humor.
When I was younger he would take me to the park every Sunday and watch me climb trees for hours, never getting bored and always patiently waiting for me to be finished playing so he could take me to get my favorite treat, chocolate ice-cream. He would look up at me in the trees and tell me I reminded him of the goats in Mazandaran, where he was born and that when he was a child, he would do the same as me. Even when I was so young I loved it when he said I was like him and I reminded him of the way he was. It was the greatest compliment he could give me.
He was the one who taught me that spirituality came from within and that God was all around us. That we as humans, were God. I remember having these kinds of conversations with my dad and thinking, I'm so lucky that my dad gets it. And gets me.
That's the thing. My dad knew me. He knew my smile, my sadness. What to say to make me happy. He knew my passion... when I told him I wanted to be a writer he said, "Colet, that's seven dollars an hour and I told him I was okay with that because writing was what I loved. And he told me, "okay, honey. Then do it. But work hard. Be the best writer you can be. And if it makes you happy, it will make me happy." I always remember that conversation with him because it defined me. With a few sentences he taught me to be free and to follow my dreams. And that was only one of his gifts.
I remember when my cousin was staying with us and she had a suitor come to the house with his family. I was annoyed by the idea of a grown man needing his parents with him to meet and possibly propose to a woman he had never even met. So on a dare from my sister I put on a giant sombrero hat and went out to greet the suitors with a Persian tea in my hand. I thought it was so funny. My dad leaned over and whispered, "Colaleh, vhat the hell is that on your head." I told him quite casually, “Dad, it’s a hat.” "I don't like it," he said. I shrugged him off and scared my cousin's suitors away, thankfully she wasn't feeling him-- but my dad came to my room after and told me that what I did wasn't the person he knew me to be. He believed I made the suitor feel small and that my actions spoke volumes, that we were making fun of him and his efforts. And you know what, my dad was right. I hadn't seen it like that. I might have caused someone's pain. From that moment on my dad's words have always echoed in my head. We are supposed to make people feel better about themselves, not worse. And my dad didn’t just talk the talk he lived his life that way.
Did I tell you my dad had the best laugh? Ever. You never saw him frowning. Even when he was sick with Glioblastoma he was smiling and remaining upbeat and positive. Watching his strength and high spirits through out these four months broke me more. Because even faced with certain death, my dad still chose to smile and believe in miracles, until his heart just couldn't keep up with him.
Daddy, I have flashes of memories shoot through my mind. Your sweet text messages and emails... the way you said, “Hi Luv.” Or, “how is the sunshine of my life doing?” Telling me, “Colaleh. You are my love. You are my life. You are my future.”
I can’t believe I won’t hear those words from you again.
People say that we are your legacy, but how can we live up to you papa? How can we even attempt to be close to who you were as a parent, teacher, friend... human being.
When you got sick you told me that you thought you had more to give to the planet but no matter what you were okay with leaving because you knew that we, as your children, were your greatest gift to the world. That is a testament to your incredible character daddy, that even when you were so sick, you were so incredibly humble that you didn't even acknowledge all the great contributions you made to the world. The beautiful accomplishments you made in your life--- the fact that you were so, so kind… so generous, putting kids through school and never telling us…. And were worried about friends who had family members stricken with disease when you were fighting the worst cancer there is.
And that sums you up, papa. You were never ever thinking about yourself, only others.
People say don't cry so much but to know my dad, to know what he was for us, how good and caring and kind and generous and loving, so loving-- is to know why the tears can't stop. Why I feel like my heart was ripped out and taken away from me. Why I cry to my husband at night and ask him if I'll be able to survive this.
People say your dad is no longer suffering. These words that we use mean something completely different to me now. Because my dad no longer suffering means my dad is no longer here. My beloved, beloved father is gone.
Daddy, I see you in the mountains and trees and ocean. I see you in the birds flying through the sky. In every sunset and sunrise. I know you are everywhere surrounding us with your love and watching over us. I've reached inside and searched for my spirituality, what you tried to teach me-- I'm searching for the purpose of our lives. How this could happen to you, a man who has been so good and touched so many people.
And I don't have the answers.
Only questions. Ones that I’ll probably never know the answer to until I’m with you again.
One of my favorite things my dad would say to me was, “Honey, did I tell you I love you?” I would reply. “No, dad.” And he would say. "I do. You are my hopes and you are my dreams. My love for you is infinite."
Papa, did I tell you I love you? I do. Always and Forever. Until I get to hold you and kiss your sweet hands again, daddy.
I love you.
I miss you so, so much.
I love you so, so much.