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  • I rarely ever saw my mom panic but this time was different.
    When I picked up the phone, she was speaking quickly.
    My dad had coded blue and while they were able to revive him,
    he was intubated and couldn't speak.

    I knew he was going to die.

    She didn't have to say anything more. I felt helpless.
    I was on vacation thousands of miles away and unable to get home. When my mom hung up, I felt tears fill my eyes and my chest tighten up to the point that I could barely breath. I could hear my dad's voice.

    Why are you crying?

    He would say this to my sister and I when we were kids. We were like faucets you couldn't turn off. He expected us to be strong but I realize all it did was make me bottle up my emotions.

    I imagined my dad dying many times before. I was 26 and he had been sick half my life. I imagined the funeral. I imagined all the people that would come. I imagined crying for days and then one day feeling OK.

    6 years have passed and there are still days when it's not OK.

    I've realized that death comes for everyone: people you love, people you barely know, and even people you've forgotten. Death can surprise you and when it does you never know how it will make you feel.

    The pain of losing my dad is something that is a part of me now. It runs deep and into every inch of my body, to the tips of my fingers and toes and back to my heart, to the top of my head and down through my cystic kidneys that look just like his.

    It's hard but I've learned to let some of that pain go,
    to share it,
    to talk about it,
    to let it permeate my surroundings
    and become something else.

    It's become a way to look at life and all that I can do with it;
    a way to fulfill my dreams and his dreams because I am here.

    I am alive.

    When I look at this picture, I see the excitement in his eyes. My dad is young and ready for adventure. I only hope that same strength and excitement is in me.

    And I hope he sees me because I can see me.
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