Would’ve been 68 today

Dear Papa,
Today is your birthday. You would’ve been 68. I wish you were still here. I miss you every day. I tell myself — always, always tell myself — that at least you’re no longer suffering. You’re at peace now. But that doesn’t always work. I still miss you and I still wish you were here.

I remember when you taught me how to ride the bike, sans the training wheels. You got rid of those two baby wheels and told me I was ready to ride a regular bike like a big girl. I was about seven at that time. I remember sitting on my red bike, heart in my throat. I started to pedal, with you right behind me, your hands on the space left in my seat to hold me steady. I pedalled forward and kept glancing back to check if you’re still there. You were. You held on, telling me it’s going to be all right, just keep my eyes in front of me, and keep moving. So I kept pedalling, forgetting about being terrified of falling. I was enjoying the moment. When I glanced back again, you weren’t there behind me. Instead, you were standing a few feet away. The distance between us in that street loomed endlessly before me. I was frightened. Your hands weren’t guiding me anymore. I trembled, I shook. The bike suddenly wobbled. Then you shouted at me, telling me to keep moving and look straight ahead. I did as you told and I never needed those training wheels since then. When I pedalled back to you, the grin on your face was so wide. My own grin was just as wide. I biked around some more and while you no longer needed to hold me steady, you were still there, looking out for me.

They say some women eventually choose men who are similar to their fathers. I guess no one else could measure up to you. Either that or I’m really screwed. Haha! I have only ever known one man who reminds me of you, whose intellect is as wide and astonishing as yours and whose sense of humor reminded me of you: quick and awfully sarcastic that one can’t help but let out a laugh. I loved that about you, Papa. Did I ever tell you that? I loved that you’re so smart and sensitive. I loved talking to you because I learned so much — from history to geography, religion and politics, pop culture and paranormal. I even miss the way you’d give me that incredelous look and say, “My God. You really didn’t know?” And then you’d proceed to lecturing me about the topic at hand. (I’m pretty sure it was either history or geography, because we both know I was never good at those and that exasperated you so.) You encouraged me to be the kind of person who should keep on learning. At times, you’d gently reprimand me to get my mind off the clouds and focus. You propelled me to keep moving forward but not without taking into account the feelings of those around me. As introverted and sensitive as you are, you always had that special way of charming others too, using wit, humor, and intelligence that was all yours. You also put others first before your own self most of the time, and that’s because you have a big, big heart, Papa. It was both your strength and weakness.

I am no longer the child that clung to you like a monkey, but I will always need you. I will always miss you. I will always be thankful and grateful and proud that you are my dad. And I will always love you.