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Words from a wallflower

Photo: Taelar Pollmann · The Sentry

I have two bracelets in a jewelry box, one blue that says hope, courage, faith and one yellow that says livestrong. My dad and I wore these bracelets at all times after he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, promising each other that we would cut them off when he’s cancer free. The bracelets are still intact.

The summer between my seventh and eighth grade year, at the age of 13, I lost my dad. After chemotherapy didn’t work, he went on an experimental drug that only worked in 30 percent of its patients. He happened to be part of the 70 percent. 

Unlike me, he had a bubbly and charismatic personality that could bring laughs to any room he walked in. He tried every opportunity he got to boost my confidence and teach me to dance through life like no one is watching (I’m still trying to work on that). 

I have the greatest memories with him. He used to lip sing “Hollaback Girl” in his truck and go to the store every Friday night to buy random movies for the weekend. 

One of my favorite memories is him writing me notes with drawings and putting one in my lunch every day. Fortunately, I saved them, and my mom put them in a book for me. These memories rushed back to me when I recently went back to Vegas and saw the keychain hanging from my rearview mirror with his handwriting and thumbprints.

One thing I promised was to get a tattoo for him. Even when he was sick, he gave me the stereotypical dad response of needing to wait until I was 18. The tears in his eyes though told me it meant a lot to him. I’ve given it a lot of thought even though I’m a big proponent for tattoos not needing to mean anything. I’ve reached this idea: I want an infinity symbol (the same shape as the necklace that I carry some of his ashes in) on my ribs with the words hope, courage, faith in his handwriting from the notes (for the bracelets we wore). 

In addition to the tattoo, I also promised I would tell stories about him. This is me trying to keep that promise.

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