As If You Were Still Here


  • Author Melissa Decastro
  • Published February 25, 2024
  • Word count 657

I walked into my father’s office the other day. A routine occurrence since I was little. In recent years my oldest son who is 7 would ask if he could go to his grandfather's office and do homework in the the office I had just down the hall. I would almost say yes. My father loved his grandsons and if they would come in unexpectedly while he was in the middle of his work day, he would proudly introduce them with joy in his eyes and love in his voice.

My father was a physician and he he was an OB/GYN in a rural area of New Jersey which meant he worked all the time while I was growing up. He delivered over 20,000 babies and countless surgeries and hours at the office. He was originally from the Philippines and was a physician there who amazingly graduated from medical school at the age of 21 and then went on to Connecticut and then New York where he met my mother. He specialized in the endocrinology and infertility and had his pick of where to live, but he chose a special place in New Jersey and a beautiful property to raise a family and served on many boards and succeeded in everything he did.

Thanksgiving week though, my father unexpectedly passed away very suddenly. We were present and in fact that Friday we had planned a trip as a family with all three grandchildren to go away for my brother’s birthday. Instead we had to say goodbye.

I walk into his office now and I see his white doctor’s coat with his name on his chair and his notes to himself. I say hi Dad and take a minute to sit in his chair and open the drawers, something I rarely did until now, and I find pictures of myself as a baby, my brother, my mom and I see such love. There are of course the pictures in frames for his patients to see and his books and certain cherished items on his shelves for all to see, but it is what I have found that he did not show off on his desk that brings the most tears. The real pictures of our family blowing out candles and holding balloons and his grandchildren all three boys who he loved so much that he kept in his top drawer next to his important items.

When someone passes away suddenly it is so hard to see the unfinished. The candy in his jacket pocket, the lists, the ties hanging on the chair that he took off at the end of each day, My oldest son asked to speak at his my father’s funeral and he asked his grandmother if he could please wear one of his grandfather’s ties that day while he spoke. The love of a a 7 year old is as pure and sincere as any age if not more.

I looked through a lot of pictures these past two months, and I encourage more people to look at pictures while their loved ones are alive. I never realized how much my dad carried me around as a toddler, how many times he went out in black tie with my mom in beautiful dresses, and how many times he would bring out his guitar to sing to my brother and I, but now I see it in pictures and it makes his life so much broader. For death does not end love. In the day to day hustle that we all live on, we do not always appreciate time. This has taught me so clearly to tell my children everyday that I am grateful for each day given with to them. To care about my husband, my mother, my extended family fully and understand that one day there will only be memories and pictures and they should always bring joy and tears of love.

Attorney, mom, wife, sister, daughter, writer, semi-politician, always striving.

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