Letter To My Father
by Elena Levon
My Dear Papa,
I can’t believe it’s been so long.
September 1st 2002…
Our story began on 27th of March 1984. It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon, Moscow was wrapped in a cozy warmth of the sun. You came to the hospital to say goodbye to my mom before your departure. You were leaving for a conference. I was supposed to be born late April – just in time for your return from overseas.
The sun rays were hitting the window of my moms room. You looked up and instead of her, you saw a woman dressed in white.
She was the one who told you;
“Congratulations! It’s a girl!”
You were 49 and already had a 20 something year old son. Mom was 38 and had a 14 year old son.
Everyone in a hospital called me “Thumbelina”, because I was one of the tiniest babies who was ever born there.
Yes, papa, I know, I arrived a month early… You will later know that patience and math will not be my strongest traits…
I couldn’t wait to see the world!
They told you that your daughter was born with a lot of complications and there was a chance, that she might not make it. They had to keep me and mom for a while, to make sure I survive. Till this day, papa, some of these shadows from the past follow me around and at times, I hear a laud bang on my door. I try very hard to keep it closed. Sometimes it feels like they are much stronger than me, but then I remind myself that they are only ghosts.
You came back from the trip and came straight to the hospital to take us home.
You stood there so nervous, surrounded by family, friends and my two brothers. You gave red roses to my mom and kissed her. Nurse came down the stairs and handed me to you…
With your shaking voice you mumbled “Is this for me?”
“Are you the father?” she asked you.
To which she firmly replied “Then yes, this is for you.”
Oh papa, you were so exited and happy that you now had a daughter, that you bought me 20 pairs of shoes of the same size. Mom laughed so hard and then told you; “You know Eduard, kids come with a tiny side effect ~ they grow pretty fast” One day when we were in the park a lady who was walking by us, smiled and said “It must be so nice going for a walk with your grand-daughter”… You smiled back and replied; “it’s even nicer when it’s your daughter”
But that lady was right – you did have a granddaughter, only she was 1 year younger than me…
You ~ The man of numbers, mathematics, physics, formulas and the man who has written 12 books,
was incredibly disappointed that I was not fascinated by those things. Instead, all I wanted was to dance, dress up and be on stage…
I remember how you broke pens in frustration because when I put 2 and 2 together somehow I got 5. Dad, you huffed and puffed and got very upset, but you could never be mad at me for too long, because I would make some stupid and funny face and it was seconds before you broke down with laughter.
Dedicated all your life to work, you never compromised and your friends could always count on you. You breathed life with passion and left a warm stamp in every heart. You were awarded medals for your research and you deserved a Nobel Prize.
When your hands touched the piano, the whole apartment building opened their windows and would clap after every composition.
I think you would be very proud to know that I have checkmated a Harvard graduate in only several moves… I had the best teacher – you. Thank you for teaching me not to be afraid to sacrifice an important chess piece, for a killer next move.
Also wanted to let you know that, I have met your favorite president and now a dual citizen.
Thank you for showing me the world outside of our own,
thank you for always looking at me with so much love, pride and tenderness.
I know that at times it was difficult for you to deal with a free-spirited and stubborn teenager, like me. But I know you tried your best to understand and guide me in the right direction. Thank you for not freaking out about my tattoo and piercing.
I understand, that you would rather see your daughter become a professor, than a woman with unstable jobs and with unquenchable passion for road.
But hope you will be proud to know that I still have my soul.
Want you to know that it was incredibly hard for me to realize that I might have to continue my life without you. I tried everything in order to close my eyes on obvious – that you were going to die.
Even though you were in delirium at times, you still asked me to bring your books and notes to hospital so you could work. Guess your beautiful mind fought as hard as it could. Your son and I became your parents for a while and you became our child. At 18 it’s not easy to grasp the fact that this could be it.
Your powerful mind became weak and cancer was taking over your life.
When the hospital eventually let you go and I was at home with you, I could sense another presence, something that was there, in all corners of our rooms, patiently waiting.
31st of August 2002, your son said goodbye and left for the night, I was to watch over you until morning. You were tossing and turning and asking for water. I tried my best to stay awake so I could bring you what you needed. You called the names of all the people that were not there, and I kept saying “Yes, Eduard, I’m here” to every name you called out – wanted you to know that you were not alone, that everyone who you loved was by your side.
I wish I could say that your passing was as picture perfect as in Hollywood movies, where the dying is surrounded by the family and friends and then the last words of wisdom are passed on. But it wasn’t. It was dark and unpolished. Because you were tossing and turning so much, you fell and it was impossible for me to pick you up and put you on the bed. Yes, this was far from the shiny Hollywood ending that a lot of drama films have. You didn’t even realize that you were on the floor. With the help of family doctor that your son Suren called to, we were able to put you back in the bed.
It was deep into the night when I felt like something was trying so hard to put me to sleep and I did my best to fight it.
But in a few hours I gave in…
In the morning your son and your granddaughter entered the apartment.
Emma woke me up with 2 words “Granddad died”
1st of September – the day of knowledge. The day that you were taken away from me.
Funeral was hard, I even fainted.
My legs could not walk, my eyes did not want to see and my ears didn’t want to hear.
A lot of people were saying a lot of beautiful words and I was angry at them for not saying all the other words. I was angry that they were not there to help you.
I felt like I was blamed for the fact that I fell asleep. Maybe if I didn’t, I would have been able to bring you yet another glass of water, which would have saved you.
At times, I still blame myself and still hear your weak voice asking for another glass of water.
There was a moment when I tried to take my own life, but wanting to live turned out to be much stronger than the other feeling in me.
After a month of drinking myself to sleep, I woke up one morning with joy for the first time and with intense passion for life. I still think that you were the one who breathed that joy, passion and hope in me.
In less than a year I was on a plane to a different continent.
Didn’t have many possessions, but I did bring our photo memories.
I miss you, papa.
Although “miss” is such a small word compared to how I really feel.
I want you to know, that I always take you with me on my journeys. You live in my heart.
Dear papa, it’s sad to know that you will never walk me down the aisle and we will never have a “father-daughter dance” but then again,
we did have that dance… remember?
This road without you is not easy.
But when I’m walking barefoot on the sand and only see one set of footprints
that at that very moment
you are carrying me…
The woman behind the words …