I was having lunch with my sister Caroline a few months ago in San Francisco. It's one of the nice things about working remotely for Twilio, being able to see her now and then. We were eating not far from the company's offices in SOMA. I really love seeing my sister. We were not close growing up and sometimes I think I'm trying to make up for 30 years of lost time in every meal we share.
I told her about a letter I was going to write to my father. It was going to be a very serious letter, wherein I would tell him things that somehow I had trouble expressing to his face. I was going to share my feelings about some of his choices, how they were bothering me and how he should start to live in the moment because he couldn't be sure how much time he had left. You see, my father was very ill. He had been diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2015 and underwent surgery in December of that year. He seemed to be doing great immediately following the procedure, but no sooner had I flown back to Seattle then he started having complications that eventually saw him end up in a state of non-stop sedation and on life support. I flew back to Washington, DC several times over the next few months, each time thinking "this might be it".
But against all odds, his lungs got stronger and they were able to wake him up and get him off his ventilator. I flew out to see him and spent a few days in and out of his hospital room during visiting hours. It was shocking to see him. He had lost a tremendous amount of weight and had trouble walking without assistance. But even in his battered state, he would open up his work laptop, connect to his company's VPN and review an endless stream of emails. He would talk about invitations to speak at conferences and his desire to get better so that he could get back to work.
I hated to hear these things. I vividly remember thinking to myself how utterly insane it was that my father was even remotely thinking about work. I would have connected to the VPN just long enough to resign. I felt like he should have been consumed with a desire to spend more time with his family, to see Emily ride a bike for the first time, to sit down with Catherine and tell her why the sky was blue.
But my father loved his work. And he was an eternal optimist. He always thought that things were going to work out, that he would always have enough time. This is the kind of reckless optimism that explained why my Dad would be late to just about everything he was invited to. I can close my eyes and imagine him arriving late to someone's dinner party. He'd walk through the door, apologizing to his hosts with a giant grin on his face while telling a vivid story of traffic, a missed exit and a wrong address. The tardiness would be forgotten and everyone would sit back and experience a classic Angel Rabasa story, full of roaring laughter, his face turning red and tears streaming down the eyes of everyone lucky enough to be there.
I never did send that letter. In fact, I hadn't even written it yet. I think I was planning to write it on my flight to DC in a few weeks. I had already started to think about what kind of stationary I was going to use. It needed to be handwritten of course, because it was serious. But I'm my father's son. I always thought there was going to be more time. I never seriously considered that I wouldn't see him again.
My stepmother called my this past Saturday. She could tell that Angel wasn't doing well and urged me to move up my plans to visit. I thanked her for calling, but I was sure he wasn't that bad and that I would have plenty of time to see him. After all, I was flying out in just two weeks. Even when I got the call on Sunday morning and was told that he had been admitted to the hospital and was in declining health, I assumed there would be time. We booked the entire family on the first flight out of Seattle and I fully expected to get to the hospital and see my father complaining about the nurses fussing over him. But I am my father's son. I was too late and yesterday on Sunday September 25th 2016 my father, Angel Miguel Rabasa, passed away. He was surrounded by loved ones.
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