My father died some weeks ago, at the age of 59. It was not unexpected, as he had been suffering from illness for a long time.

Even though I had had time to mentally prepare myself, it was nevertheless a setback. Luckily I had taken the time to visit him several times over the last few difficult months.

When I was a kid, he was never really a good father. Alcohol combined with a bad temper made for some traumatic experiences. He changed, though – stopped drinking, and became quite a nice fellow. We got along well, but were always somewhat distant. My father had been told by his doctors that he could receive organ transplants from a live donor, but he had declined this – and not told anybody in the family about the possibility. When I heard about his illness, I looked it up, and found out about this possibility. I was later told that my offer to be that donor was what gave my father the will to even attempt to fight death, and to be put on a waiting list.

I never got the chance to donate, and he never received his transplants at all. In the end, massive organ failure killed him. I like to think that I gave him a chance, and that he realized that he actually meant something to his family when even an estranged son made such an offer.

One Friday evening I spent four hours alone with him in his hospital room. It was my first visit there. He looked like a half-dead mummy, scary, and it quite shook me for a moment. At first our conversation was awkward, hampered by his obvious discomfort and pain. He had tears in his eyes at one time, and I heard the fear in his voice. Fear of death, fear of being seen in this weak condition. Fear of his own past catching up with him. Then he relaxed, and we got to talk about this and that – my new job, the new city I moved to, which he knew since it was his home city – and then I began to tell him all those weird and funny stories about my life I never got to tell him. I told him about Yunru and Saku and Bahati and Mariah and the others – including, even, some stories I haven’t shared with anybody else. Some stories produced a “That reminds me” from him, although I had to carry the conversation due to his weakness. When I left, I was compeltely drained – I had not realized just what a strain the conversation had put on me. There is something elementary disconcerting about seeing one’s father in such a state.

The funeral was fairly hard on all of us, during the ceremony. I’ve been to family funerals before, but only to those of old people. Grandparents, for example – people who were always old for as long as I knew them. People who died at old ages; 85, 90, 92, 87, and so on. It’s okay to die at 90. It’s not okay to die before retirement age. It was even worse than the funeral of one of my best friends, many years ago, who died the age of 35. Still, one gets over such things – my family and I are cut from the same wood, in this regard: We’ll accept a situation and make the best of it. We won’t let misfortune destroy us. There’s a lot of things I’d have liked to do with my father, especially now that I moved to a city so much closer, a city he knew so well; but it can’t be helped. He will be missed, and not forgotten, and I guess that is what counts when you die – that there’s someone left who cares. It shows that you were, at your very core, a good person.