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Being brave

During my freshman year in college, my English 101 instructor required her students to keep a journal. It was easy for me but perhaps, my entries were too personal because at the end of the semester she wrote the following:

“You are able to write down so beautifully exactly how you feel. I would not be surprised to see your book in a bookstore some day.”

As I glanced through my entries, I was amazed at the feelings I poured into the little spiral notebook. The pages were filled with my thoughts on growing up, entering college, dating and my foolish but sweet aspirations.

But I was so proud of my honesty and the bravery it took to allow someone else to read it.

Almost 10 years later, I maintain this blog—sharing my thoughts on love, politics and family. But I’ve yet to disclose my greatest fear that I will soon have to face so I’m choosing to be brave by sharing it now. I’m losing my dad and living a life without him is by far my greatest fear.

I am the stereotypical Daddy’s Girl. I go to him when I have car problems, confide in him when I’m annoyed with work and am the first to laugh at his silly jokes. I try to make him proud too. I overachieve so that he has something to brag to his friends about—whether it’s being the first to break a news story, winning a journalism award or working my ass off to lift the Quách name. I shamelessly tell my friends that I live my life for the man who risked so much to raise me and my siblings in a spoiled U.S.

I remember a time in my teens when I cried in front of him and others. He pulled me aside and told me to stop. He told me to never cry in front of anyone because it was a sign of weakness and that I needed to be strong—brave. I took it to heart and forever forced myself to hide my emotions (as much as I can, anyway).

But now I cry my heart out in front of him. I can’t help it. I do it at the very sight of him if I can’t control my emotions.

My dad is dying.

Diagnosed with liver cancer about six years ago, my dad is in the final stages of his life and the thought of losing the one man who means most to me is terrifying.

It’s terrifying to accept the fact I will no longer have his guidance, inspiration and willpower to enjoy life. It’s hard to swallow the idea that he will not be here or see me live out my biggest dreams for him. He won’t have a signed copy of my first book, teach Vietnamese and Chinese to the children I hope to have one day and, though Chinese have their own type of wedding ceremonies—my dream always included a walk down the aisle with my Number 1 man… him.

I’ve never written about my dad and the cancer we’re battling so candidly before so I’m taking the opportunity (and the gift of being a writer) to be brave to share the story now.

I just hope I’ll have an ounce of that bravery when I’m forced to let go of my selfishness and face that greatest fear.