I will never look at New Year’s Day the same way ever again.
A day that is traditionally intended as a “wipe the slate clean and start over” kind of day is forever tainted for me.
I say this because I lost my father to cancer on January 1st, 2022—and I can’t possibly view that day favorably anymore.
My father is a magical human being. I say this not just because I’m partial or biased (which I most certainly am), but because everyone in my circles, everyone I’ve ever encountered during my life, has said the exact same thing.
My dad is a legend, the type of man you want to have in your life. A man who is so dedicated to his family, and it’s absolutely astounding. He’s generous beyond measure, kind beyond words, selfless, loving, tolerant, patient, pragmatic, highly intuitive—just a few of the qualities that make up this fabulous man who I’ve been honored to call my father since the day I was born.
Losing him to cancer was utterly devastating for me and my brother. It happened so fast; we hardly had time to absorb it all. My dad was a private person; he didn’t like to advertise anything, let alone his health issues.
Going to doctors was something my father disliked immensely. He is the type of person who believes that the body is an amazing machine and is capable of healing itself without the use of medication. He never even liked the idea of taking a Tylenol for muscle aches or headaches, let alone anything invasive that would disrupt the natural rhythm of his body. So when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma, it threw me and my brother for such a loop, our heads were spinning.
The two weeks my father spent in the hospital before he passed was the most heart-wrenching for both of us. We were so fortunate during the pandemic to spend time at my father’s side, when security was tight and proof of vaccination was mandatory every time you stepped foot inside the hospital.
We offered him love, daily comfort, and solace; we shared stories and had some laughs—but also, we shed endless tears while constantly questioning why God would do this to my beautiful dad. Why would such a youthful and vital man of 77 years, going on 47, have to be taken from us so damn soon?
It was so difficult to see my dad writhing in pain on a daily basis. My heart endured so much grief, and I was a witness to some horrific things that I would never wish on my worst enemy. I started an audio journal on December 30, 2021, to document my feelings and to describe the things that I experienced in the days leading up to his passing—and I’m so glad I did.
I wasn’t going to originally because I thought it would be too gut-wrenching to have it all recorded for posterity, but it was the best thing I ever did. I also documented my hospital visits by recording my dad’s conversations when he was still able to speak and taking a few photos of him when he was peacefully sleeping in bed.
Each day I visited my Dad, I prayed that my tears would magically cure him as I gently rested my head against his tummy and gently massaged his legs and feet every night. He looked absolutely beautiful. I marveled at how stunning he looked when he was free of pain and at peace.
Since then, my entire world has shifted. I’m incredulous as to how I’m able to be “high functioning” and still be in the beginning stages of my grief. My mornings are the hardest, as I used to see my dad for early morning breakfasts, or walks, or chats.
I have photos of my dad plastered in all the rooms that I enter on a daily basis, and I silently pray for him and the health of my family while I’m looking at his smiling pictures every morning. I own a plethora of his clothing items and I don them proudly.
There are millions of songs that remind me of him, and his favorite artists include Heart, Dire Straits, Joe Bonamassa, Sheryl Crow, Alannah Myles, Steely Dan, and Joni Mitchell. He is the coolest cat, my main man, the real deal, my powerhouse, my breakfast buddy, my light, my energy source, my prophet, my tutor, my guidance counsellor, my everything. Losing him so soon was utterly devastating for all of us.
And so, at the start of every New Year going forward, I hereby declare January 1st to be Peter’s Day. At the stroke of midnight I’ll scream, “Happy Peter’s Year,” and I’ll look up to the heavens, shedding tears of joy mixed with sadness.
My daddy was my whole world, and now, it’s up to me and my brother to carry on his incredible legacy. I’m certain that my brother and I will make my father extremely proud. He would only want us to remain strong as a team and fight for everything we believe in.
I will always believe in you, daddy, and I will love you and honor your memory, forever.
You da best.