For most people my age, going to see your father entails conversing with the man that was always there for you, reminiscing about fond memories and creating new ones. Visiting my Dad used to mean walking into a home filled with his smile, laughter, and charm. It meant spending time with the person who was always there for me, someone who always would be. That was until mesothelioma became a part of our lives.
Now, visiting my father means driving up a long, windy road to the top of a hill. I get out of the vehicle, walk about 50 feet, and gaze upon a black piece of marble. I stop and talk to him, but I get no answer. There is no more of his laughter; that sound now only exists in my memory. Now, spending time with my Dad means going to a cemetery.
As I walk up to the place where we laid him to rest, I am always overcome with emotions that bring me to tears. I think of how much I miss him. I ponder why this had to become his fate. I try to hold back the anger I feel that he ended up with mesothelioma, and how it could have been prevented if only people had been more responsible. I wonder why anyone would take the dangers of asbestos so lightly that they would endanger other’s lives as if they were disposable.
Each and every person who has been a victim of this disease has a story. They have a family and people who love them. They are not nameless faces, they are God’s children. They are more than just a stone, marking where they now lie.
As I stand by my father’s grave, I remember his funeral and the outpouring of love that was present that day. I remember the smile he gave me the last time I saw him, and the last “I love you” over the phone, 45 minutes before he passed away. These are memories that I will always cherish, but I still long for the ones left unmade because of mesothelioma.
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