Dear 아빠 / Daddy,
If this were any other year, I'd be writing you a Father's Day card. But this year is the first year of my life that I am not experiencing a hand cramp from writing in such tiny lettering, trying to fit all my sentiments and gratitude within the never-convenient spaces that card-making companies tend to leave.
They usually don't leave much room because most people keep their cards short and sweet, and let the card's pre-written message speak for itself-- but not to your surprise, I've always been full of words. So much so, that one of your best friend's who had initially wanted to have you marry me off to his son, saw an 11-year old me in conversation once at a party, and he immediately told you that his son would never be able to handle such a strong-willed and chatty girl like me. My favorite part of that story you'd always tell me? Is how you laughed and agreed, and would proudly boast about those kinds of attributes to your friends.
I'm really glad you encouraged my independent spirit, and to always face my fears head on. You always insisted that there was nothing I couldn't do. I'm really glad you helped foster that belief in myself, because I'm not quite sure I would have made it through last year otherwise.
Within the past few months, a lot in my life has changed. And that's to put it quite mildly. But one of the things that kept subtly but chronically echoing throughout these changes, was the fact that you're not here anymore. I would see photos come up on Facebook's "On This Day" feature, of us and Jenny going to your doctor's appointments together, or a screenshot of your random 10pm like-bombing sprees on my Instagram page that would always make me laugh.
It became this bitter pill to see and swallow: in February, thinking about how in was only a year ago that we realized the cancer had come back; in March, to see how only a year ago, we were hoping for a clinical trial; in April, to see Amazon suggest "order again" of the Orgain shakes and chia seed bars on Amazon that your health nut of a daughter had insisted upon instead of the shitty Ensures the doctors recommended when your appetite plummeted because of the chemo.
Then in June of last year, it became very apparent to me that you were mentally done with the cancer, the chemo-- all of it, so I had to face what was coming. Fast-forward to June this year, during which I have been seeing a million ads for Father's Day and gifts reminders. Like most dads out there, you were always impossible to shop for. You insisted you had everything you needed, and that the only thing you wanted was for me to focus on myself and building my life.
I had this weird entrepreneurial career in wellness industries that didn't exist during your generation so it was hard to understand for you, but you supported and trusted in me nevertheless. But I knew that you were concerned for my future and stability, and that you wouldn't be able be around to make sure I was okay. That has been something I can't get off my mind lately, as I get ready to launch my startup.
If I succeed with this, the way I hope and believe I will, it is the most bittersweet thing I'll get to experience. I won't get to share it all with you, and give you that reassurance I've always wanted to give you that I'll be just fine (well, hopefully better than fine, that I'm on my way to changing the world for the better😏😜 fingers crossed).
I wish so badly sometimes I could talk to you about all this, and hear about your experience of having built a company from scratch, especially as an immigrant. While you always told me about your fair share of mistakes and stuff you would do differently if you could, I always admired how progressive it was of a man from your generation and culture to have told his youngest daughter to choose risk over safety if it meant that I was following my purpose with full dedication-- and that that was how I'd realize true fulfillment.
This might be my longest card I've ever written you, and the first to not be handwritten, but this Father's Day, I wanted to reflect on all the things you've given me-- to thank you for still being everything to me you've always been. I still feel your support, your words, and your spirit with me always, as I continue to be that chatty, strong-willed, and dedicated girl you would proudly tell your friends about.
I love you, I miss you, and I am keeping my promise to you every day to *be happy!*