“About a year and a half ago, someone knocked on my door late at night. When I opened it, my mother was standing there with tears in her eyes. She didn’t have to say anything – my father had died. He had a rare heart condition, so we knew, at some point, that he would just go. It was peaceful, apparently, and very quick. My mother found him in his favorite chair at home with a book in his lap and a coffee on the table. My world collapsed. Growing up all I wanted was for him to be proud of me. I was so afraid he’d die and think of me as a disappointment. But three days before he died, during our last phone call, although we didn’t know that yet, he said “kid, the world is yours for the taking, and I’m so proud of you, and my work here is done.” I had just graduated with a bachelor’s and I was making plans for grad school. When I was younger, because of his condition, he was always trying to impart wisdom just in case he wasn’t around when I needed it – so for example he gave me serious relationship advice when I was twelve and it made no sense to me. Six months after he died I went through a really difficult breakup, and his decade old advice suddenly came back to my mind. He did everything he could as a father, to prepare me for the world.
I came to Amsterdam a year ago to do a master’s degree. The first few months were really hard. I was afraid to make friends of get attached, I think, because I was afraid to lose more than I already had. But there’s something about Amsterdam that either forces you or encourages you to just figure things out, and slowly I reached out and made friends and connected to family and really settled in. And Amsterdam became home. Coming here when I did turned out to be the best thing I could do for myself. This city has healed me. Right now I’m on my way to meet my Mum. She’s visiting because tomorrow is my graduation. That my Dad isn’t here as well is – is really hard. But today would’ve been his birthday, so we’re going out to get cake and celebrate.“

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