The Mayans feared that the world would end in 2012. For me, it has felt that way, and for my father, it is true. I know this sounds extremely dramatic, but on Saturday November 10th, a piece of my childhood died along with my father. What began as a quiet, relaxing date night (the first in a while because of the craziness of the hurricane) ended with a text message from my brother and phone call from my mom telling me the words I’ve feared since my father first had a heart attack when I was three, “Vick, he’s gone.” My heart has physically been hurting for days, today is the first day I don’t feel ill.
To anyone reading this, if you lost a parent, I completely understand how you feel. It’s surreal, a dream, you think you’re going to turn the corner and see them. Right now, I’m writing this from my dining room table, where I often worked from home and watched my dad sit in his wheelchair while my mom was at work. I’d jump in the room when ‘The Price is Right’ came on, to laugh at the overly hyper contestants with him and guess on prices together. I still see the back of his bald head out of the corner of my eyes, then I look up and it’s gone.
I’ve gone into my mother’s room to smell his pillow, I wonder what his last thoughts were. I wish I could’ve gone home to see him sooner, hugged him when he passed. I’m glad that his last vision of me was after I finished my personal marathon and thanked him via video. I made my mom put me on the phone with him after he watched it, and he couldn't make a sound. He was apparently crying. I now have his 1987 marathon medal, he asked my mom to give it to me as a gift when I came home.
Last year, partially to cope with my father’s illness and partially to take charge of my own career, I began writing a film about my relationship with my father. It’s an extremely personal film and addresses what it’s like to grow up with a father that’s older than most people’s grandparents. Above is a photo taken by my friend Ben Jarosch a month before my dad's passing. It will be used in promotional materials for my film, but it also shows how much my father and I loved each other.
I’ve always feared death, always. It isn’t something I can understand, and I’m so, so afraid that when you die, that’s it. In the past few days, I’ve felt like I'm going crazy talking to pictures of my father, hoping they’ll speak back, asking him to move things in a room to show me he’s there, and then half-waking up in the middle of the night with sleep paralysis as if he’s hugging me too tightly.
The film I wrote, “Gold Star” means much more now than it ever has. Although my initial intention was to have my father play the father role in it (most of his scenes would involve no lines), my father will be in it in every other way. Memories we had and still have are in there, the film will be shot in my house, I plan on somehow including actual video footage and photos of him (maybe in the credits).
I miss my dad so much. 25 is too young to lose a father. I find comfort in knowing that the rest of my family, and myself, have zero regrets. We worshiped him over the past year. He fought to give us a year. I stood in front of him for hours before and after and even during my work week, helping him with rehab, physically moving him room to room, bringing him outside to get light, hugging him nonstop, making him laugh, learning how to suction him, inventing a way of communication, and just being with him as much as possible. Lately, I’ve been questioning why I do anything and I feel like sometimes it’s more for him than me. Making “Gold Star” is going to be emotionally exhausting at times, but I have to make it. We all create for different reasons. My reason is therapy, love and memory. My dad used to tell stories all the time, it’s my turn to take the torch and be a storyteller for him. Love you dad.