My Loss Story: It's Not "Goodbye," It's "I'll See You Later"
By Alyssa "Lefty" Molina
These days have been harder than any painful I’ve experienced in my 28 years of life. I wake up every day ready to approach life as if it were a brand new day, no matter how much these four walls that encompass the home I grew up in, the home I watched my dad’s life wither away in, stay the same.
The Spring Time: a time of new life, re-birth, and a cleansing of old memories to let the new ones in. The month of March passed, and it was by far the hardest month of my life. March used to be a great month for me - my dad’s birthday fell on the 19th, whereas mine falls on the 27th. That is two reasons to celebrate life every year. On March 27th 2014, my family and I were hit with devastation that would change our lives forever: Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. March 27th 2014. My 21st birthday. After midnight. My dad never showed up to celebrate my 21st birthday with me in Syracuse, because he was too busy getting over 2 Liters of fluid drained from his lung in the E.R. that night. I didn’t find out about his diagnosis until I went home the weekend after to see him, but my dad and I are so spiritually connected that I cried myself to sleep the night of my 21st birthday, tipsy off of a whole bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and sobbed to my boyfriend at the time “I have to go home this weekend. I have to see my family.”
It was at that moment when I realized my superhero was actually mortal. You never think about these things, about mortality, until it comes creeping up at your door. I dreamed of growing old with my dad: I dreamed of him walking me down the aisle when it was time for me to marry (if that time ever came) or of the day he would hold his grand baby in his arms and flash his infamous smile with so much pride, just like he did the day he had me...and 12 years after that, my sister Angie.
Fast forward to 2021. Seven years after his diagnosis, what would be one of the greatest fights I’ve seen in my entire life (and I took after my dad with my love for boxing, seeing some pretty great matches in my day) was finally coming to an end. He and I would joke in the hospital the two times he was rushed for breathing attacks this year that he went 12 rounds like a champ, or he was putting in double or triple overtime in the basketball game, or putting extra innings in a baseball game. (Sports was my dad’s life, next to his family.)
I never truly knew how much my dad suffered fighting a terminal illness for nearly seven years, because he made the fight look effortless. He went through round and rounds of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials, and he still managed to smile, always, on and off the cameras. Dad even danced his little two-step, diddy bop in the comfort of his own rooms, or at family functions, ready to make even the most somber person laugh. David Molina (that’s his name) inspired me so greatly to never give up in life and what I believe in. He took a piece of my heart with him the day his body departed this Earth and his spirit graduated from heaven, leaving an immense pain surging throughout my body, and has at times, kept me up all night, or made me fall to tears in the middle of the street. I can no longer hug my best friend, my savior, the one man who has never lost my trust and who has loved me unconditionally.
Some people spend their entire lives searching for the love that my dad raised me on. But I had it. And I still do, until this day. I know his love is always there, but the pain of remembering what he allowed his body, mind and spirit to go through just to see my sister and I smiling back at him, the pain of remembering the day he was sent off to Calvary, and how child-like he looked the day before he passed (and I still had faith I would see him the next day) still lingers.
Yes I didn’t get a chance to say “Goodbye,” but maybe that’s because God knew this parting of ways between the vessels of our souls is not a reflection of the permanent relationship and bond our souls had from before I was born. If you are reading this, and you believe like me that you have multiple soulmates, then my dad was, still is, and will always be my soulmate. And we will see each other again, in a much more beautiful paradise.
Sure, the negative thoughts are, at times, haunting. So are the reminders of still living in the same space I watched my dad struggle to survive in, and feeling the emptiness and open space without his physical presence. But his soul is so beautiful, so endless, so vast, that I take comfort when being here, knowing he’s always with me when I cry, when I laugh, when I share a meal, and when I pray.
I thank God I was able to capture my last full conversation with him before he transitioned to heaven on March 14th, 2021. I transcribed our audio recording, which took place the night before he left for hospice at Calvary. This is the same night I stayed up all night with him, because he and I knew in our own heads that his time to transition was imminent. Daddy, I wish I hugged you a little tighter that night, or rather, held you all night, or even stayed up with you the entire night and not missed a wink of sleep. It would have been worth it. Thank you for inspiring me with these beautiful words. And to my reader, I hope his words inspire you, too.
Audio Recording of Conversation Between Dad and I
"So this is Tuesday March 9th 2021 at 8:15 pm, me and dad, choppin’ it up...dad, what is your favorite memory of us together? One-on-one and then as a family?”
Favorite memory...favorite memory...um...[Long pause] Spending my time with you. Spending my time at the ballpark with you. Spending my time in the baseball field with you. Um...
“What, when I was playing softball?”
“[Chuckles] Yeah, basketball was a good time.”
Um...[long pause] and, and, boxing...my most recent favorite memory, that we were diggin’ it, that we were really hitting it hard...it was in the boxing gym.
“Oh yeah! In New York Sports Club...”
Yeah, [Smiles] in New York Sports Club...you were really hittin’ it hard. (Referring to hitting the punching bag)
“You were good! And the guy came up to you and asked if you were a trainer...that’s when we made your [business] cards.”
Yeah, and um, I wasn’t at my best but...
“You looked like it...[laughs]”
[Smiles] Yeah, I know...but I wasn’t at my best.
“You're always strong no matter what...”
Always...boxing is second nature to me.
“I know you love it....what about favorite memory with all of us? Me, you, mom, Angelina.”
“That was a good one...”
Small Condado Beach...hanging out with my Tio Benito...[pauses to reflect] Yeah, it was nice. Walking around at night in Puerto Rico...
“Yeah, that was nice...it’s always so beautiful. The air, the beach...remember when I got that sunburn on my face? When I was 16 and I put oil on my face thinking I can tan with oil on my face? And my whole face was swollen?”
Yeah...you came out just like your mother...really juvenile. Really.
“[Laughs] Thanks, dad...if you had one accomplishment that you can say you’re proud of, for me, what would it be?”
One thing...[pauses] That you went out, and you tried out for the baseball and basketball team on your own, and you did it.
“That’s what you’re most proud of? Wow, okay. [Chuckles]”
Yeah! Because I didn’t practice with you at the time. It showed me you had some of my genes in you...and that picture that you won an award for...
“Oh with Angelina in it...”
Yeah...[long pause] and that was it.
“Not even my graduation?! [Laughs]
Because that was expected...that was expected. Your graduation was...was expected of you. I know you had that in you. You had that...you my baby, you had the smarts. What I didn’t know is if you had the gifts...you had the gifts, you just didn’t have the hunger...
“What do you mean? What gifts did I have that I didn’t have the hunger for?”
“Oh ok...you put me in a lot of things so it was hard for me to focus on what I loved, right? I really loved photography, writing, sports, mock trial...there was so many things..I remember when my art teacher was trying to push me towards photography in college...”
That’s why I love that Angelina got to find her love soon. Early.
“What advice would you give to me in helping me find my career?”
Stay true to yourself...stay true to yourself. That’s the advice I can give to anybody.
“But to me, not anybody...”
Anybody! You, your sister now...stay true to yourself. What ever you love, stay true. That’s it.
“What if I love a lot of things? Or what if I love a couple of things? How do you suppose I pursue them?”
Stay true! Simple.
“I guess that’s all for now...I love you.”
Love you too.
I will stay true for you, daddy. For you, I will stay true. Thank you for inspiring my writing again. This last one is for you:
If Spirits Could Talk
If spirits could talk,
then you were just hugging me in those
strong gusts of wind,
Reminding me that I can breathe &
you can breathe with me now, never to worry.
If they could talk,
you were just kissing me “goodnight”
when I looked up to the moon last night,
Exhausted because sometimes
I really fear life without you.
You remind me that you’re here though.
If spirits could talk,
you’re currently heightening my sense of sound
with the ripples of water passing through the creek,
kissing the rocks as you tell me to stay in the present,
because that infinite moment it all we have.
If spirits could talk,
You would say “I love you”
With every embrace I give and receive.
About the author
28 year-old NuYoRican from Spanish Harlem who has a passion for writing, learning, achieving peace, faith, and empowering others. I've established a career as an educator and career counselor for over five years. Instagram: @alyssaleftyp