What My Father’s Death Taught Me About Life

By Michelle Contreras

My father taught me that life is like a blooming flower. There’s a seed in the beginning, then at one point in its life cycle, it flourishes, spreading apart its petals. The flower helps create a new generation. As its life comes to an end, it realizes it has completed its purpose.

Everything has to change at a certain time. These changes are difficult to adapt to but in the end, I believe there is an explanation for everything. This is something I learned early on in my childhood.

I can recall having a beautiful childhood. I had a united family, close friends and people I could confide in. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had taken life for granted. In one day, I felt the world fall upon me. After the the shortest and most horrendous phone call, I found out that my father was in the hospital and had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

It was all so sudden. To my distress, I saw how  my whole family was breaking apart. How, I questioned myself, could a healthy hard-working man get pushed down out of the blue? He never showed any symptoms. It was a very difficult situation for everyone. My mother took full responsibility of taking care of my three sisters, my father and me.

One of my sisters decided to take independent studies, instead of going to a traditional high school, just so she could accompany my dad to his chemotherapy treatments. My other two sisters, who were eighteen and seventeen, decided to help financially support my mother. But I, as a twelve-year-old kid, felt useless.

I could do nothing to help my family.

In my father’s eyes, I was a studious, intelligent child. He was always my motivation, thus everything I did in school was for him. My main priority was to make my dad proud. Although he wasn’t in the finest condition, my father continued to encourage me to work hard and to fulfill my dreams. By doing that, he said, I would help him. He said he’d would be satisfied and content.

Not once did he lose hope, even when he was terminally ill. He is my idol.

Watching him lay still on a hospital bed tore me apart. After battling for two years, he could take no more. As much as he tried to hold on, he was slipping away. I held his hand for what seemed like hours, trying to extend every second in time, just to feel his lively heart beating.

Never would I forget him.

The way his lips curved up in an approving smile, his sign of passionate fatherly love to his family. I can clearly recall his words just a week before passing. “Keep it up, I’m very proud,” he said. It is because of my dad that  I have decided to work the hardest and to keep my word to my father. Everything I do will be for him.

Even if he is always in my heart, I still wake up desperate for his presence. The one thing I miss most about my father is his love for nature. His garden, with the alluring scent of mint, was filled with trees, plants, herbs and roses. He gently tended for each growing sprout. Each sprout, he said, contained true beauty. I loved those moments we shared together sitting outside on a swing and admiring the wonders nature brought.

Now I sit in that same swing, but this time I’m alone. As I watch how the plants continue to grow, I see the beauty of the flowers. I have learned my lesson. I had my father’s hand, guiding me, helping me grow.

However, like the flowers, I’d have to now bloom on my own. And one day, those seeds will spread and produce something new. It’s quite astounding how life works. Things come and go but the legacy lives on in the roots. Every time I sit and admire nature, I can feel the true meaning. I see the beauty through my father’s eyes.

About the Author:

Michelle Contreras, Thermal resident, is a sophomore at Desert Mirage High School. She is part of the National Honors Society and participates in Baile Folklorico.

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