Knocking on my father’s heart

In 2017, I received an invitation by US Department of State to visit five states in the United States in a program called “International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP)”. Not often people in Indonesia receive an invitation from the American government to visit the United States, so I was very happy for this trip. And so was my father.

Before flying to Washington D.C., I made an overnight layover in Jakarta. My parents lived in Jakarta. Being as excited as I was about my trip, my father took a day off to pick me up and and have dinner.

When he dropped me back off at the hotel, he handed me a navy-blue blazer, a floral-print shirt, and a navy-blue trouser. He was worried I didn’t bring any formal attire for formal occasions, so he lent me his clothes. I gave him a kiss on a cheek, and he left.

That was the day I last saw my father.

Jefry Maxwell Simard Oersepuny, my father, passed away one year ago in Jakarta, Indonesia. I was 10,000 miles away, sitting in my hotel room in Tulsa, Oklahoma when he died.

My father died from aortic dissection, a tear in the wall of the aorta. He went into a 10-hour surgery to replace the aorta, but his blood vessels were too fragile, causing haemorrhage. The surgeons couldn’t save him. He was unconscious when he passed.

The world feels slightly less bright, less wonderful, and less good since that day.

My father loved to match the colour of his outfit

People say I look like my dad. I inherit his eyebrows, and his nose, and his smile. I also inherit his chest hair 😃 . They also say that I walk like him.

But we argued a lot. It was hard to be in the same room with my father for longer than an hour. He often compared me with other people’s children. He often made me feel like I was not enough. Because of that, I often didn’t pick up his calls. I knew every conversation we made would always end up in an argument.

I knew he wanted to understand me better, but I wanted to show him that I could make it without his help.

I wanted to be like him.

My Father’s Early Life

My father was born in Ambon, Maluku in the East of Indonesia. When he was in high school, he ran away to Jakarta. He sold the scooter that his father bought him, then he went on a ship to move to Jakarta.

My father, my mother, and baby me

He knew that if he had stayed in Ambon, he would never have been able to make a better life for himself.

He continued his secondary education in Jakarta. A couple of years after, he met my mother who also came to Jakarta from Ambon to study. They got married in 1990.

After they got married, he and my mother moved to a small room on a bank of one of Jakarta’s not-so-clean rivers, and started their little family. And a year later, I was born. We moved to a better house not long after.

He and my mother worked hard to provide a good life for me and my brother. They both slowly built up their careers and they made it in Jakarta. Not many island-kids could make it to the big city; but my parents did.

A year after he passed

Some days are harder than others. It happened so sudden, and because I was away when my father’s took his last breath, I still couldn’t grasp the idea that my father is no longer with us.

Yet, I’m starting to see why he was being so hard on me. He gave me a tough love, but by doing that, he shaped me into becoming a fighter. I never felt enough, because I should never feel enough.

All these years, I tried knocking on my father’s heart; but apparently it was the other way around. He wanted to get to know me, but I blocked him from my life because I was being a stubborn young man.

I wish he knew how much my mother, my brother and I miss him. I wish I knew how much I would miss him and appreciate his special way to direct me into becoming a better person.

A couple of days ago, I heard “Chef Special - In Your Arm” playing on Spotify. The lyrics were so beautiful, I sang along to the song as if I was talking to my father. I hope he heard me.

I miss you so, I miss you so. And I’ll miss you ‘till I’m old.
I miss you so, I miss you so. But my fears will fade, I know.
‘Cause it’s my heart that you helped to build. And love is my compass still.
Love will fill the holes I’ve got, ’cause you will never hold me,
but I know that you are with me. I know that you have peace.
Cause you let us sing to sleep. You let us sing your heart to sleep.
This is the only photo of two of us alone. We almost never took any photo together, alone.