It’s really weird to tell people that my dad is gone, especially because it doesn’t feel like it. First of all, my dad has been living abroad for years, so I’m used to not seeing him when I’m in Belgium. Secondly, my siblings and I didn’t really get to say goodbye to him, because (thanks to covid) we had to follow everything from a distance through a livestream. Really absurd and something I hope you never have to go through, because it’s really a dirty feeling.
I console myself with the fact that during the month before his death I took the chance to go and visit him in Hungary. If I had not been able to do that, I would have really regretted it. Even now, despite the fact that I was able to spend the last month of his life with him, I feel enormous regret inside. There are still so many things I would have liked to have done, but more importantly, so many things I would have liked to have said. So I have decided to write them down here, in this column. So this column is for you, Dad!
I wish I had phoned more, been in touch more. And I want you to know that I have always admired the fact that you, as a single man, have raised five children on your own. It wasn’t always easy and like everyone else, you had flaws. But I want you to know that I forgive you for that, because I also know how heavy everything weighed on your shoulders. I didn’t realize that before, but I realize that today.
I wish I had told you that I am glad I look like you. Sixteen-year-old Angelo would never have said this, but thirty-year-old Angelo dares to. I look like you, I’ve often been told and I never realized what that meant. I look like you with all my creativity, with all my joking, but above all with all my strength to see the positive in every day. Even though life isn’t always easy, you persevered until the very end.
I wish I had let you know how brave I thought you were and how much I admired the fact that despite that terrible disease you still danced, sang and enjoyed throughout all the last moments we spent together.
I wish I had shown you how grateful I was that you didn’t push me aside when you knew I would never come home with a daughter-in-law. And that you always supported me in all the choices I made on my path to self-discovery. Even when I completely derailed, you never let me down.
I wish you knew how happy I have been for more than 17 years, that you had found love again in Milou. And how beautiful I thought it was that you went on so many wonderful trips together. Since you were with her, I saw a different man every day. A happy man, with many friends who enjoyed life. No wonder everyone in Hungary was such a fan of yours too!
I wish I had told you how much I love you and how much I would miss you. Only time caught up with us and my pride got in the way. I wish I had been able to get it past my lips and you had heard the words I’ve always secretly had in my mouth. I have always loved you and I will always love you.
Fortunately for me you did have some last words that you told Milou in your last days. And I promise you that I will do everything you said. I promise you that I will continue to enjoy life. And that I will never put aside my adventurous self and will never choose a track that does not suit me. I promise to make you proud, as you have made me proud.