Hello friends. I've been trying to write this post for over a week now, and to be honest, every day it's gotten a little bit harder. My thoughts are jumbled and nothing is really making sense. How did we get here? Why did this happen? What do I do now? I wasn't ready for any of it. You can never be ready when you loose someone you love.
As some of you may or may not know, my dad passed away a few weeks ago. He was 54 years old. Part of me wants to tell you about how sad and overwhelmed I am but I want this post to be more than that. I want this post to be a celebration of my dad that I can come back to later on and smile at when I read it. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write about my dad and the days we were able to spend here on Earth together and all the memories we created as father and daughter. Memories I'll have with me for the rest of my life.
My dad was honestly one of the most kind and genuine people I've ever known with never much bad to say about anything or anyone and although there were a lot of shitty things that happened to him throughout the years (Hurricane Katrina being one of those things) he always seemed to look on the bright side of life. He loved to tell stories to just about anyone even if you'd never met him before. That's just who my dad was. He felt like an old friend even if you didn't know him for more than a few minutes. He had all of those really good, rare qualities so many people don't have, but wish they did. All of that stuff came so naturally to him.
My parents divorced when I was a baby and a few years after that my mom and I moved to Texas. My dad lived in New Orleans my whole life so I'd go visit him there on holidays and in the summertime growing up. He'd take me fishing, take me to Saints football games, take me to his hunting camp out in the middle of nowhere. He even took me to Europe for the first time. We loved doing those things when we were able to spend time together. We made that time count.
Once I graduated from high school I moved back to Louisiana to go to college at LSU. I saw a lot more of my dad at that time in my life and I'm so grateful for those years when we lived just about an hour away from one another. Every year I would take all of my friends from school over to his house for Mardi Gras and he absolutely loved that. It made him so happy to have us all there. We were in his city enjoying it with him. These are probably the times I'll miss the most. Right now it makes me cry to think about it because I know we'll never have those times again but I'm so thankful that we ever even had them at all.
After I moved to Austin I didn't see as much of my dad anymore. I was living in a new city trying to figure out who I was and navigating life in my 20s. In the past couple years when I started going through harder times with my mental health I definitely stopped visiting New Orleans as often. I don't think I ever talked to my dad about what I was going through but I know he was happy I was living my life and was proud of me for doing my thing.
We had a conversation maybe a year ago while we were eating sushi at one of his favorite spots about his heart valve condition. I remember he played it off, said it wasn't a big deal. He'd need to get the valve replaced in about five years but it would be all OK and I believed him. My dad had a way of making things sound better than they really were. He was protecting me and I think he was also trying to protect himself. He didn't want to think too much about something that could be truly life threatening. I don't blame him for that. I don't blame him for anything.
In the last couple of months leading up to him passing I visited him in the hospital as much as I could. He was not well and I honestly didn't realize the severity of it all. Looking back at it now it's a lot clearer than when it was actually happening. When someone you love, your parent, the person who gave you the gift of life, is slipping away in front of you, you don't want to believe it and I didn't. I thought he would pull through. I was hopeful.
The first time I visited him in the hospital was back at the beginning of February soon after he was admitted. It was late, about 11PM. I walked in the room and he was sleeping. He woke a while later and I went over to his bed to say hello and hold his hand. He looked so scared. I'd never seen him like that. I could tell he did not want me to see him that way but he was still glad I was there with him. He looked at me and asked, "Have I been a good Dad?" and I said, "Of course you have, Dad. You don't have to ask me that. Of course you have." And it's true, he was a really great Dad.
Of course, I'll think about all the things he didn't get to do and the things we didn't get to do together but I'll also think of all the things he did get to do and all the things we did get to do together. I'll think of how he annoyed the crap out of me when he'd come in my room at 7am to wake me up to go get breakfast with him. I'll think of how aggravated I'd get when we'd talk on the phone and he'd keep asking me what I'd just said because he was so hard of hearing. I'll think of all the fun things we did like Saints games and Mardi Gras and our trip to Cabo and our boat rides along the Gulf. Those things will always make me smile.
Something that does give me comfort is knowing that he will always be with me. Watching over me. Keeping me safe. Leading me in the right direction. So thank you for that, Dad. I love you and I'm so glad I got to tell you that you were a good dad. I know I'll be seeing you again one day but until then I'll be out here making you proud. I promise.
Rest peacefully Paul Oscar Onebane.