February 10, 2017: The day I found out my father died

The morning sunrise over Tomsk, Russia, where I Iearned of my father’s passing at the age of 73. He is now part of that sunshine, everyday rising and setting as it has for centuries and millenia over many generations of people and will continue to do so until the end of time.

Like my father, I fundamentally believe in the goodness of humankind and life overall. I do not believe death is the end but I also don’t attribute any one characteristic to it. It, death, simply is, as is life itself. Years ago I would’ve contemplated the meaning but now, after travelling so much of the world, meeting people, seeing how they live and work and, most importantly, simply getting older, I’ve learned to just let some things be. Life is not fair but according to what criteria? Life just is, death just is.

I knew I’d cry at your passing, Dad, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. All the shoulda coulda wouldas start popping into mind, about which you warned me not to let them interfere with my life. ‘Do what you need to do and be done with it already,’ is what you used to say. ‘Wants become needs,’ you warned. Problem is, sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what is a need and what is a want. I was hoping for a few more years of chats and wisdom from you, but I should’ve known better.

I am happy that you went peacefully and, as you told me the last time we spoke, ‘I can still think.’ It’s to that which I have to look forward to in my old age. I still see that last email from you within the first page and I realize no more of those will come. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, but how much can we know? Like trading stocks, of which you were so fond, we can only trade in real time using what we know at the moment. We all thought you’d make it to Nick and Natasha’s wedding, but your body couldn’t hold up.

Life isn’t about fairness, it just is. Death is a very sad part of that life. It’s the closure of one generation so the next can take over. As your father passed at the young age of 73, I wonder if that was on your mind. Your father moved from Ukraine, you moved from the country, and I’ve just moved because of the decisions you and your families made.

I thank you for the possibilites you have given me and my brothers, sister, nieces and my mother. We did a lot in life and will continue to do so. Again I cry at your loss but I seem to have no one reason to do so, I just do. I read the condolences from others and am surprised by just how far your reach went. I wish I can be even half as great as that.

Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t come home this vacation to see you one last time. Shoulda coulda woulda, but I don’t think you minded, you also had other things to do. You worked right up until the time you died. And in response to my concern for your health you said, ‘Well, if I’m dead, I’m dead.’ Yes, that is how it is. But it’s still painful for those of us you left behind.

Dad, I love you, I miss you already and I hope we meet again sometime later, a thought that is very much real to me now. I need to go now to catch a train, but I’ll see you soon one last time.

Lots of love from your travelling son,

Steve