Family, a word that once meant tradition and reunion, now means pause and too many months.
Ever since I can remember, my dad has been in Michigan, once a month to see me and my sibling, and we flew to San Antonio, Texas, for Christmas and summer vacation. But that changed when COVID-19 hit. It's been eight months since I’ve seen my dad.
I understand the reason why I haven’t been able to see him, but that doesn’t the tears that run down my cheeks, it doesn’t change all of the times I wish I could hug him, and it doesn’t stop me from putting him at the top of my Christmas list.
Not being to see my dad for a while has taken a toll on me, and some people don’t realize that I used to count the days until his next visit and the longest I can go without talking to him is a weekend.
I talk to my dad every morning before my online classes start; forming a routine that helps me get out of bed just that little bit faster. Even though he lives in San Antonio, which is behind Michigan by an hour, and my dad is up at 6 a.m. to talk to me before my classes start.
We talk every morning the topic varies, like one day we were talking about one of the pranks he and his work team once pulled when he still lived here in Michigan. My dad works in cybersecurity; you see where this is going? If someone went on vacation, they would remove the chips from the person’s computer. So when they came back, they would have to spend an hour fixing their stuff.
Our convos always end with “Have a great day,” and me wishing him the same. Talking to my dad is that one semblance of my normal and that doesn’t hurt as much, but being completely honest, the pain will never ease until I give him a proper hug at the airport.
I’m very close to my dad and the relationship we have is something that I wouldn’t trade in a million years. I’m close to my dad even though he’s so far away. Family grounds you and makes you who you are today, and that can’t be more true.
My dad has always been the one that’s been there for me and has shown me the definition of fair. My dad is definitely someone who has shown me what it’s like to put in 200% through his actions. He’s shown me that once you make a promise, you have to do everything humanely possible to keep it, so when you fail, the other person truly knows that you tried to do as you said. He's told me to find my own way and to be my own person.
I'm hoping that once Christmas break hits, I’ll be back into the routine of packing my bags, calling my dad on Christmas and telling him how I can’t wait to see him the next day, and texting everyone that I landed. But the harsh reality of the increase in COVID-19 cases tells me that my wish is going to remain a wish this year.
In the years previous, there’s a routine that I followed pretty closely during Christmas vacation. Typically, the first few days of break were actually a break, and I would help my mom with wrapping gifts and placing them under the tree. Fast forward to a couple of days before Christmas where I’m packing my bags and making sure I have everything.
Christmas morning is where the fun happens, as that’s the time when I’m calling Dad to let him know that I can’t wait to see him the next day. The day after Christmas is always the busiest since I have to be up so early and go through security at the airport. To be honest, it’s worth it because of the outcome: Dad waiting at the gate to get me. This year, that’s the part that’s really going to hurt because this is going to be the first time I won’t be spending Christmas vacation with him. And then he won’t be here the weekend after my birthday.
I understand that he’s not gone permanently. We're just separated by a thousand miles and a wish for me to be safe, but there isn’t a day that I don’t miss him.
Not being able to see my dad is never easy, because some days I feel it more than others. Some days I don’t want to wake up since I know that today is no different than the past eight months. Some days I wish that I wasn’t so “weak” and that I could do better than the lovey-dovey I miss you. Some days the only way I can get through is if I work myself until I’m exhausted so I don’t even feel it.