It was Thursday morning. I had a Skype date with my mom to discuss the final details before she would leave to come to Korea. In the middle of the night I had gotten Skype calls from a close friend but didn't think anything of it and ignored them. I woke up to a Facebook message and email from my mom to call her immediately and a Skype voice mail that I needed to talk to my grandma as soon as possible. I knew it was something bad.
I called my mom's cell phone and she didn't even want to talk; she told me to get on Skype. I keep replaying the conversation over and over in my head.
Me: What's wrong? Is it dad? [already tearing up]
Me: Did he have a heart attack?
Mom: Yes.... Heather, he died.
It would be bad news for anyone, but I feel like it was intensified since I'm so far away. I felt guilty for not calling him since we had last talked ten days before. Most of all, I felt helpless. My grandma and I were the closest people to him and I couldn't be there for her. We couldn't be there for each other. I started to feel guilty for coming to Korea in the first place. But I know in my heart that my dad was proud of me for following my dreams. For traveling. He was always 100% supportive of everything I did - even though I didn't go to school to be a real estate attorney like he wanted me to.
The first decision I had to make was whether or not to continue with my travel plans. In two days I was scheduled to leave for China with my mom. I asked myself, "Would dad want me to go?" The answer is yes. He knew how excited I was. The trip had been planned for eight months. Now at first he couldn't understand why I wanted to go "see those communists" but was excited for me nonetheless.
So my mom did come to Korea and we did go to China. I'll be heading home (to USA) with my mom the same day she was scheduled to head home. My boss was really nice to let me go home for a week, although his compassion was a bit lost in translation.
I called him and asked him to meet me at school to talk. I told him what happened and had silent tears streaming down my cheeks. His way of comforting me was saying, "Heather! Calm down!" and "Don't cry." I'm sure he meant well.
It's hard to accept that it was "his time" and "everything happens for a reason." My mom was really comforting but in a matter of fact tone she told me bluntly, "You have to get used to people dying." Making jokes and being a little cynical helped me push through my seven stages of grief. Being away has really helped me stay strong and accept the situation quicker. All of my friends and family in Korea and at home have been super supportive and have graciously offered their condolences. It's good to know I have support near and far.
It was probably one of the worst days I'll ever have but I got through it. With my daddy forever by my side, I know I can get through anything.