I miss you every day.
In the 1970s, my family lost everything to the war. Their country, their home, and everyone they've ever cared about. They were eventually sponsored to come over and find a place to call their own in America. That place was Arlington, Virginia. After working in Washington D.C. for most of the day, I made an effort to seek out my family's old stomping grounds; the place where my Dad essentially spent his twenties. Today, I got to walk the same streets that he did, breathed the same air, and watched the same sun set over an awe-inspiring skyline. Four decades after he first stepped foot on American soil, I am now the same age that he was during his time here and I have come to appreciate the gift that he gave me more and more each day.
The gift of choice.
The To Family in Arlington, Virginia (circa late-1970s)
He never had a choice.
Every step I took today on the brick paved sidewalks of his hometown gave me an incredible, uplifting strength. The growth that I’ve made in the last year has been part me and parts him. All I ever wanted was for him to be proud of me. However, if he was still here today, I would want him to know that I have grown to be proud of myself. I want him to know that his life was not lived in vain and that he left behind a meaningful legacy.
I want nothing more than to tell him in person for one last time, "thank you".
I always had this irrational fear of inevitably becoming my father. As I grow older, I try to just remember the good things.
Sunday afternoons at the cinema.
Playing ping pong in the garage.
Helping him improve his English by reading novels together.
I love all the dimensions and elements that make up my family: the exceptional beauty, the hideous flaws, and everything else in between. Today, my journey with my Dad has come full circle, and now after 9 long years, I can finally heal.
Rest in Power, To Dai-Quyen (Ken) [12/24/54 - 08/01/07]