My Joanne is a Man
Today marks the first year death anniversary of my father. It still feels unreal like I am in a loop of nightmares just waiting to end when I wake up. When you lose someone you love, or who is important to you, the hurt doesn’t just go away, as though there’s no getting over it, just some getting used to’s, and being able to manage to live through every day despite the emptiness that stings.
My dad died unexpectedly, the kind where you’re just left puzzled, and one where you’re not prepared for. No opportunity for goodbyes, for releasing forgiveness, and expressing the deepest love you have. No crying in the hallways of the hospitals, kneeling down in front of the altar, saying all the prayers in the world to reverse the situation, and being granted a miracle of having his life back. When death comes as a surprise, and a “thief in the night”, there is really nothing left to do, but grieve. You can’t sing, “Take my hand, stay Joanne. Heaven’s not ready for you.”
I live in a city three hours away from my family. It was a rough day at work so I decided to go to the mall before heading to my apartment. While casually checking out stalls, I received a call from my mom’s workmate saying, “I’m sorry dear, but your dad is gone. He had multiple shots, and died on the spot.” Shocked, and in disbelief, I managed to go home before I actually broke down. I called my mom, and only heard a dreadful, and painful weeping as tears relentlessly fell down her face. Just like that, I became the head of the family.
Truth of the matter is, my dad and I didn’t really have the best relationship, let alone did we have a peaceful one. We were constantly in a fight against each other because of our numerous differences. He wanted me to be more like him — masculine, manly, and strong. I wasn’t. I didn’t play basketball. I didn’t share the same interests in the TV shows he watched. I lost all the boxing competitions he made me join. I was soft, preferred singing, and dancing, and loved show tunes. I grew apart from him. Distance nurtured that even more when I went to college far from them.
My father wasn’t all that awful when I was younger. He was responsible, had a stable job, and true to being a husband to my mom. However, these were all taken away by his addiction to drugs. It took the life away from him, and made him a whole different person. This destroyed our relationship, and created a bleak future for all of us. It was his lupus — the reason why he can no longer share his talent to the world, his wit, intelligence, sweetness, and charm.
I wasn’t really able to grasp the circumstance we were in. Why did it have to happen, and why me, were only few of the questions I constantly battled. However, it was as if my subconscious worked its way through it, and helped me thrive, and developed a survival mechanism in me. That is, to constantly do good in what I do, both when I was in school, and when I started to work as a professional.
Few days ago, Netflix released Gaga: Five Foot Two. I was naturally ecstatic about it. Of course, it’s Gaga after all, my mother monster. How can I not be? After watching the documentary, it dawned on me. I had my own Joanne in my life — someone who had so much to offer the world, but by some reasons, explained or not, didn’t have much chance to show it to the world. Lady Gaga flourished as an artist because of her inspiration, Joanne. Unknowingly, I, too, became who I am today because of a rather subliminal influence, my dad, the person whose dreams weren’t realized, but inspired someone to have it done, do it, or did it anyway for him.
I miss my father. I wish I have spent more time with him, treated him better, honored him the way he was ought to be regardless of his imperfections, and forgiven him. He was proud of me, but I wish I would’ve been clearly, and loudly proud of him, too.
If there is one lesson I have learned, it’s that there is a reason for everything, and whatever the situation we are in, there’s always something we can do about it. Most of the terrible experiences we have in our life help us become tougher individuals, and thus, push us to reach our dreams. It’s like baking a cake. If the ingredients were tasted individually, it would rather be disgusting. However, when put altogether and mixed, it tastes the way it’s supposed to be, and a whole lot better. What I’m simply trying to say is, all the good, and bad, happy, and sad things that happen in our lives create the best version of us when we work them out together to our advantage, and have a positive outlook on it.
People come and go, but there are some people who will inspire you, bring out the best version of yourself, and bless you with their lives. My dad did. It may be in an unconventional way, but he still got me to where he dreamt of me to be.
My dad is my Joanne.
And I will love him even if I can’t see him anymore.