Death is inevitable. It takes you by surprise, shatters you in the most inexplicable way, and alters life like you'd never have thought of. Death of a parent is the most crippling thought that most of us have had at some point in our lives. It's hard to even imagine a world without them, isn't it?
Rafael Zoehler lost his father at a young age of 8 to cancer. But this is not a story about Rafael. This is the heartwarming story about Rafael's father who lost his life when he was just 27 years old. In a beautiful blog entry, Rafael wrote about the extremely emotional experience he had when his father passed away. He was only 8, and imagining what it would have been like, makes me shudder.
But his father made sure that his only son had his presence throughout his life, that when he's down and under, he's there to give him words of encouragement, and when he's sad, he's there with words to make him feel better.
Rafael's father wrote a series of letters, and titled them. Reading some of these will make you hold your heart and shed a tear.
This envelope read, When I'm Gone
If you’re reading this, I’m dead. I’m sorry. I knew I was going to die.
I didn’t want to tell you what was going to happen, I didn’t want to see you crying. Well, it looks like I’ve made it. I think that a man who’s about to die has the right to act a little bit selfish.
Well, as you can see, I still have a lot to teach you. After all, you don’t know crap about anything. So I wrote these letters for you. You must not open them before the right moment, OK? This is our deal.
I love you. Take care of your mom. You’re the man of the house now.
PS: I didn’t write letters to your mom. She’s got my car.
Foreseeing things, Rafael's father had a letter for almost every occasion. Like this letter was in an envelope titled:
When you have the worst fight with your mom
Now apologize to her.
I don’t know why you’re fighting and I don’t know who’s right. But I know your mother. So a humble apology is the best way to get over this. I’m talking about a down-on-your-knees apology.
She’s your mother, kid. She loves you more than anything in this world. Do you know that she went through natural birth because someone told her that it would be the best for you? Have you ever seen a woman giving birth? Do you need a bigger proof of love than that?
Apologize. She’ll forgive you.
He found other letters when he was fishing through them. There was one titled, When you lose your virginity. This is what it said:
Don’t worry, it gets better with time. It always sucks the first time. Mine happened with an ugly woman…who was also a prostitute.
My biggest fear is that you’d ask your mother what virginity is after reading what’s on the letter. Or even worse, reading what I just wrote without knowing what jerking off is (you know what it is, right?). But that’s none of my business.
His father's letters became his life, he looked forward to read them every time he crossed each milestone. The next letter he read was
When you become a father
Now you’ll understand what real love is, son. You’ll realize how much you love her, but real love is something you’ll feel for this little thing over there. I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. I’m just a corpse, I’m not a fortune teller.
Have fun. It’s a great thing. Time is gonna fly now, so make sure you’ll be around. Never miss a moment, they never come back. Change diapers, bathe the baby, be a role model to this child. I think you have what it takes to be an amazing father, just like me.
The next one he read was weirdly reassuring. The smallest of the lot, but the one that evoked the most emotions as well.
When your mother is gone
She is mine now.
With four words, he reassured his son that his mother is in a better place now. That she is safe, and he shouldn't worry about her any more.
Now we know that Rafael's father was quite a man, far-sighted, and prepared for anything and everything. That is why he wrote a letter titled
When you realize you're gay
What can I say? I’m glad I’m dead.
Now, all joking aside, being half-dead made me realize that we care too much about things that don’t matter much. Do you think that changes anything, son?
Don’t be silly. Be happy.
Now isn't that amazing. Even after years of his passing, Rafael's father never really left him, his words always showed him what to do, and always propped him forward. This last letter is titled
When your time comes
Hello, son. I hope you’re an old man now.
You know, this letter was the easiest to write, and the first I wrote. It was the letter that set me free from the pain of losing you. I think your mind becomes clearer when you’re this close to the end. It’s easier to talk about it.
In my last days here I thought about the life I had. I had a brief life, but a very happy one. I was your father and the husband of your mother. What else could I ask for? It gave me peace of mind. Now you do the same.
My advice for you: you don’t have to be afraid
PS: I miss you