These are not words of rememberance. There are no words or combination of words that can be spoken by me or by anyone that can truly capture what it means to have a father, to have a brother, to have a husband or to have a friend.
There is no photograph or portrait that can truly display who our father was or who their brother was or who her husband was or who your friend was. There is too much information and influence from him to even come close.
And that is the reason I am here right now. Not here as in up here speaking but here as in existing.
He always said “everything happens for a reason” and as an advocate for science and logic, I could never actually commit to applying this statement to anything because it didn’t make sense to me.
I get it now.
I happened for a reason.
I exist for a reason. To be the snapshot, or photograph, or picture, or portrait that truly and completely displays who Julio Suarez was, and will continue to be.
Since tuesday we have been fishing through countless photo albums he made at home. We’ve been looking for photos of us with him. Memories with him. “Photos of rememberance” so to speak.
It was kind of challenging because he was usually the one taking the photos so he wasn’t in a lot of them.
Seeing the photos of me and/or my sister and/or my mom without him in the frame during this time could be frustrating to some but I realized that we were just looking at photos of him. Looking at memories he created. Looking at the family he created. Looking at who he became as a husband, father, brother, and friend. Because it was ultimately reflected back through us in these photos.
The last few days have been filled with meetings and exchanges from people whom he had an impact on, and of those exchanges, there was a healthy amount of people I didn’t really know. The words of condolences from this set of people all had a phrase in common:
“Your father was very proud of you.”
I understand what this means, now. It’s not about being proud of success. It’s not about living vicariously through his daughter who found a career in medicine, something he always wanted to do. It’s not about the countless hours of flash cards and after school lessons in math and science that formed the stepping stones for his son to become an engineer one day.
It wasn’t that kind of pride.
He was proud of who he made, who he raised, who he loved. He was able to pass away knowing that his daughter was a caring and loving and beautiful person. And that she was in good hands. He was able to leave us knowing that his son, his “Jon-Jon” not only grew into a man but became a great man. A great man who still has a lot to accomplish, and will accomplish.
And another thing I learned while going through his personal effects is that one item he kept close to him by his bed was a photo album containing pictures of just his wife, my mom, dating back to even before they were married.
This is a special kind of pride. This is a type of pride that he didn’t have to tell his coworkers or his friends about. This love for my mother was very personal and dear to him and had to have been the hardest thing he had to let go of before his passing.
But he left knowing that he wasn’t leaving her at all, really. Because he knows that he’ll always be with her through my sister and me.
And this is something that I can be proud of. I can live my life being proud of who I am because I get to continue his life and legacy as his son- a portrait of himself in the most definitive way.
My heart stopped its beat but continues to run-
My life is complete but my love is not done;
Through my boy’s eyes I’ll continue to see,
A world for him is the world to me;
With my girl’s hands I’ll continue to heal,
Her steadfast control will allow me to feel;
And the life of my heart is the love of my life-
All the love from my heart will live on with my wife