I was having one of those days when the weight of memories settled heavily on my shoulders. The absence of my father was a constant ache, a longing that whispered through my mind, calling me back to a time when his voice was a steadfast presence in my life. His words echoed in my ears, repeating like a mantra, “Los cigarillos le tumbo” – a haunting reminder that cigarettes kill. It was a phrase he had shared with me long ago, after losing his own brother, my beloved uncle Georgie, while he was imprisoned. Georgie’s captivity had spanned most of my entire existence, and it was within those walls that he had acquired tainted cigarettes, leading to his tragic demise. Whenever I cracked open a fresh pack of Newports, the scent mingling with my own stresses, I couldn’t escape the weight of my father’s words. The smoke curled around me, carrying memories of both camaraderie and sorrow. It was a habit I clung to, even in the midst of my journey towards sobriety and self-improvement. I couldn’t help but wonder what my dad would say if he were here to witness the transformation I was undergoing. Would he be proud of the path I had chosen, relinquishing my vices and pursuing success with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose? But his death had been a pivotal moment in my own descent into darkness. It had been a catalyst for hitting rock bottom, for experiencing the depths of addiction and despair. In a twisted way, his absence had opened my eyes to the destructive forces within me, propelling me towards change. The nostalgia pulled me back to when we were young, to the days when we reveled in reckless abandon, fueled by alcohol and chain-smoked cigarettes. We were carefree then, unburdened by the weight of responsibility, swapping stories of our wild adventures and ambitious dreams. Those moments now felt like relics from another era, primitive and distant compared to the mountains I had begun to conquer. Yet, amidst the triumphs and progress, remnants of my father remained scattered throughout my apartment. Photographs and mementos adorned the walls, a constant reminder of his presence in my life. In those tangible memories, I found solace and a bittersweet connection to the past. But forgiveness was a journey I was still embarking upon. I couldn’t shake the guilt of not being there for him during his final days, as his addiction swallowed him whole. Witnessing his spiraling descent had been too painful, and in turn, I spiraled alongside him. Despite my newfound clarity and apparent growth, there was a part of me that couldn’t fully let go of the pain, the regret of not being able to save him. I miss my dad with a depth that words could barely capture. His absence echoed in my heart, a void that would never truly be filled. In the midst of my everlasting pursuits, he was a constant presence, a source of both inspiration and ache. And in those moments of reflection, surrounded by the fragments of his memory, I allowed myself to grieve and acknowledge that some wounds would never completely heal.

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