Words Are Just Words


How are you supposed to answer the “How are you?” or “Are you OK?” questions after your dad just passed away?

People keep saying “I know we may not be close, but if you need someone to talk to, I’m here”. Even the people I’m close with have said that they’re “just a call or text away”. I’ve taken some of them up on their offer and hoped to get a good conversation out of it. However, people have seen zoned me or just immediately went offline while I was typing my reply, and they never got back to me. I’ve made it a point to ignore people that I could reach through my phone or laptop for a couple of days because it was later on that I realized that people really don’t know what they’re saying, and they end up saying things just to seem nice but actually don’t mean whatever they let slip out of their mouths.

Whenever they ask if I’m OK, I just do the good ol’ tilt head & smile and say nothing else. Saying that I’m OK is lying to them and to myself. Saying that I’m not just makes things awkward because it’s as if they are now obliged to make me feel better. Some, however, have returned the “tilt head & smile” gesture and just turn around and walk away to do the same to another member of the family.

I’ve always told myself to feel whatever I have to feel at the right setting and time. If I need to cry, I will. If I need to get angry, then definitely I will. If I need to just be somber and quiet, I’ll allow myself to do that. I’ve come across so many faces during the past two weeks, and most of them have told me to stop crying and move on or be strong because, according to them, that’s what my dad would have wanted. They’re right. My dad wouldn’t want me to obsess about his death and cling on casket for dear life (which I did, but isn’t that what wakes are for?). However, people who said those things either (1) don’t know what it feels like to lose a parent  (or a child, a loved one so dear) or (2) are just completely heartless and are used to being inappropriate.

How can people tell me to move on when the month of January hasn’t even ended yet? I understand completely that my dad is so much better where he is now. He is no longer dependent on his oxygen tanks, no longer thinking about the many problems my cousins, aunts, and uncles give him, or no longer stressing about a libel case or if the Lakers won or not. When I look at his urn and picture, I smile a bit because I think of what he could be possibly doing up there. He could be playing basketball with his brothers, relaxing by the beach, drinking, again with his brothers, while my grandparents frown at them, or eating to his heart’s content. I understand all of that, and I am legitimately happy for my dad that he is now at peace.

But, you see, for us mortals still in this world, we continue to feel pain and despair. Those are not easily forgotten or brushed off of our shoulders. We are constantly hit by memories that we choose to remember over and over because that is all that is left for us to cling to. Scents fade, and things aren’t the same without the person you are missing are there to use them. I think memories are the only things that are secure and constant in times like these.

I have a friend whose step-father passed away a few years ago. He said that he knows how insignificant words can be and that whatever people are saying cannot bring back my dad or truly console my broken heart. However, he said that even if people’s words don’t mean anything, at least I know that there are people who care. I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate my friends’ messages and attempts of cheering me up. There are just some people who become too much for me. 

He also advised me to listen to Largo from Concerto No. 5 for Piano in F Minor by BachI guess that’s what I’ll go do now.