Her mother named her Sola because she said the day she was born the sun shone so brightly into her hospital room it was impossible to ignore.
Sola was the kind of girl who you just couldn’t ignore. Her look was magnetic. She seemed to have it all. Beautiful flowing dark hair, crystal Blue eyes, a smile that could radiate through a thousand miles of nothingness and turn it into, something.
And a soul, that was so beautiful, everybody fell in love with her.
She was a difficult girl to love though. A free and beautiful spirit, who’s parents influenced her to explore, travel, experience, and live. Any man who was brave enough to be with her always ended up hurt in the end. Because Sola couldn’t stay in one place very long. She had to get out there into the world and experience it all. Teaching English in Vietnam, rebuilding a small village in Gana, or working with UNICEF in Central Africa. She wanted to change the world, as her Papa would say.
While working in Bolivia, she received a devastating call from her mother telling her that her father had fallen ill and was in the hospital. He had stomach cancer.
He had been having problems breathing and went to the doctor. They diagnosed him with stomach cancer and told him that it had spread into his throat. It was inoperable. All they could do was help to make it more comfortable, while he waited to die.
Sola was torn to pieces and flew home immediately to be with her father, feeling guilty for not having been there to notice the signs. She was such an advocate for health, she’d always be the one pushing him (and her mother) to go to the doctor whenever they fell ill, no matter how small or insignificant it may have seemed.
The weight of this guilt was incredible for Sola, almost too much to bear. She closed her eyes as tears fell down her cheeks. Images of her and her father played in her mind like an old movie reel.
Her first bike ride without training wheels; her father watching proudly as he pushed her off and watched her ride all by herself.
Their fishing trips together. Papa showing her how to release the hook without hurting the fish so they could throw them back.
The look on his face the day she graduated University.
The day she announced that she wanted to spend her life being a Global philanthropist, helping those who don’t have the means to help themselves.
He looked at her, the way nobody else did. She was the apple of his eye and perpetually made him smile, and cry, and stare at her in amazement.
The thing that he perhaps didn’t know, is that he was her biggest influence. It was his warm heart and generous soul that shaped her inspiration. Always pointing out global issues in the paper, telling her to research things for herself, and making sure she questioned mainstream media.
When she arrived at the airport, she looked at her nails. They were sore and red. She had been biting her nails the entire way.
Her mother met her at the gate and they embraced, crying into each other’s shoulders. Sola saying “I’m sorry mama, I’m so sorry I wasn’t here.”
They went for lunch and got caught up before heading to the hospital. Her mother had prepared her for the condition she was about to see her father in. He was thin, pale, and had a GI tube for feeding. He would never know the taste of a fine steak again. He would never be able to sit and have coffee or go for ice cream.
Sola stood outside of her father’s room before entering. The movie reel she had watched earlier on the plane, flashed before her again, only quicker this time.
She slowly walked into his room towards him. He looked so helpless and sick. Tears fell down onto his hospital gown as she whispered “Papa” into his ear.
Before opening his eyes a small smile appeared on his dehydrated lips. He stared at her with his beautiful Blue watering eyes for what seemed like an eternity.
“I miss you” he said. His voice was raspy and sore. Talking was difficult for him.
“I’m so sorry papa. I haven’t been here. I should have been here.”
“No Sola. You were where you were meant to be. Changing the world.”
“I don’t want you to go Papa. I don’t know what I would do.”
“We all have to go sometime Sola. We just have to be thankful for the time we have.”
She rested her head on his arm as she sobbed, thinking about the inevitable and how she would manage without him.
That night both Sola and her mother slept beside him in the hospital room. When they woke up, the sun was shining brightly into the room. He opened his eyes and smiled at his wife, motioning to the sun, and then to their daughter.
“I love you” he said to his wife
“And I am so proud of you Sola, you are my world.”
He looked towards the window smiling as the sun warmed his face and his daughter and wife clasped his hands tightly.
“I have to go now” he said. He closed his eyes.
And that was it.
That was his last breath.
Sola and her mother wept on his lifeless body until nurses rushed in upon hearing the heart rate monitor.
Sola didn’t travel again.
She got an office job and stayed with her mother to help with bills, housework, and to keep her company. It was difficult to feel happy some days, but they had to try.
Each day they would visit the grave site and talk to him. Tell him how their day was; tell him how much they missed him.
Daily visits, turned to weekly visits, then to monthly visits. They had do this in order to move on with life.
One day Sola went alone. Without her mother. She needed answers.
She stared up at the sky and shouted “God, if you are up there, why did you take my Papa from me? What kind of a God would do such a thing?”
“You fucking asshole”
“I needed him.” she said as she stared down mournfully at his grave crying.
She fell to her knees and touched his tombstone.
As she did that, she felt the warm touch of the sun on her head. She looked up to the sky and noticed the clouds had parted and the radiant glow of the sun was producing the most beautiful beams of light, engulfing her entire body in warmth.
She looked up and smiled. “I miss you Papa.”