September 3, 2016 marked the 10-year anniversary of when my father passed away from Stage IV Gastric Carcinoma (stomach cancer).
He instilled within me his wisdom, imaginative vision and life skills that have stayed with me to this day.
I wasn't daddy's little girl. I was his soldier. When I was around him, I felt like Wonder Woman because he made me believe there wasn't anything in this world I couldn't do.
He inspired me to always learn more and always be curious. He taught me how to play an instrument. He was at every single basketball game with his video camera and every single birthday helping me blow out the candles.
He taught me how to drive. He showed me how to use a hammer to help build our house. And he always cheered me on when I beat the boys.
He was a true Renaissance man, a jack of all traits. The type of man you don't come across often, or ever. He was a rare gem with a heart of gold.
Not one person had a bad thing to say about him because he was a kind, generous soul.
Growing up, I would hear countless stories of how my father saved a person's life, changed someone's life or helped another person without asking for anything in return. It was just who he was.
He was a big goofball who loved a good laugh, and obsessed over The Beatles, Beethoven and Gipsy Kings. He enjoyed videography, chess and backgammon, carpentering with his brothers, painting, reading, exploring nature, traveling, camping, gardening, collecting coins and stamps, soccer and anything involving Armenia.
He's with me every single day through every achievement, birthday, holiday, special occasion and significant moment. He is always with me.
It may be 10 years later, but I'm still here and stronger than ever, all thanks to him.
I took his wisdom, his zest for life, his imagination and love for the arts, traveling, painting and classical music. I rejoice in all the gifts he left me with because he left me with a piece of him.
I rejoice in all the gifts he left me with because he left me with a piece of him.
The greatest gift he left me was a piece of himself. And it's my responsibility to carry that proudly.
These are the things I wish I could tell my younger self about my father's death:
1. Stop carrying the world on your shoulders, and smile.
Since I was a little girl, I thought it was my responsibility to save the world, but he always reminded me to keep my feet on the ground and just smile.
2. Take care of family.
Family is everything. He taught me the most important lesson in life is to love, respect and support your loved ones no matter what.
A house is nothing without the people that make it a home. And sometimes, friends can turn into family.
3. Take it easy. Quit crying. Stop slouching!
There will be time to be an adult, but it's not fair that you have to mature and grow up faster than your peers because of what happened to you.
You're still a kid. Enjoy being a kid.
You're still a kid. Enjoy being a kid.
4. Enjoy the little things, for one day, you will find out they are the big things.
Don't be fixated on material things. Enjoy the beauty that life offers. Explore the world.
In the end, it doesn't matter what car you drive or the pants you wear. What matters is that you have your family and are beside your loved ones.
What matters is that you make real-life connections with human beings, help other people and make a difference in other people's lives without asking for anything in return.
What matters is that you found value in the little things. Once you've done that, you'll have found the meaning of life.
Explore the outdoors, learn to paint, learn how to play the violin or piano, read more books, develop a love for nature and always be more curious.
5. You don't need a man to walk you down the aisle because you've always done everything on your own. It's just how you function.
It's OK if he missed your high school and college graduations. It's OK if he missed your 21st birthday. It's OK if he won't be there the day you finish graduate school or get married. It's OK he won't get the chance to meet his grandchildren.
He is with you every day, and he always will be.
He always made me believe I was better, stronger, faster and smarter than the boys. He always made me feel invincible, like I could do anything.
“I can't” was never in his vocabulary. It was always, “Why not?"
Since the day I was born, he taught me to be strong and brave. These traits were instilled in me and have enabled me to survive.
He gave me my name when I was born. He gave me my identity. I am part of him, and his soul is part of me.
I will carry his name with me wherever I go. I will carry his courageous story with me forever. I will help my family. I will live a little and not be so hard on myself.
And, most importantly, I will be the strong woman he always knew I would grow up to be.
If I were to look back to 10 years ago, I would tell my 17-year-old self that I wouldn't change one darn thing I did to get to 27.
I just wish my 27-year-old self would tell my 17-year-old self that after losing a father, everything was going to be OK.
He gave me my identity. I am part of him, and his soul is part of me.