Today marks one year since you passed.
The cherry blossoms are in bloom right now. I can hear your voice in my head, asking me to take photos of the trees along Jackson Street to put on the front page of the newspaper to announce the arrival of spring.
You’d be really proud to see how the Vietnamese community is thriving. Hello Em cafe at the Little Saigon Creative Space has lots of customers. I’m so happy you were able to see the picture of you and mom from the early days of the newspaper up in the Friends of Little Saigon permanent history exhibition there. The Phở Bắc kids opened up another cool bar in downtown which also honors their brother Khoa. Stacy is getting known for her beautiful art about Vietnamese traditions. Susan just submitted her manuscript and it’s going to showcase the positive, tender side of growing up as a daughter of Vietnamese manicurists. Thanh and Uyên are getting global attention for organizing Vietnamese families to help Afghan refugees. Uyên said she knows if you were here, you’d get all the elder Viets to step out and help.
The newspaper isn’t the same without you. Bác Hóa, chị Phương, and mẹ are doing the best they can. Anh Tâm at Tamarind Tree said he lost his microphone when you left. I often think about what you’d be doing if you were still here. You would have mobilized so many Vietnamese voters to support Joe Nguyễn, Kim-Khánh Văn, and Hoàng Trần last fall.
Andy and Don are doing well. Don has even started cleaning up more. We’re all still living together. I know how happy it made you when I said I was going to live at home through the end of the year. I haven’t found a real reason to leave yet.
I wrote that book about respect we talked about. Over 300 people contributed to help me make it possible, and a lot of them were Vietnamese. Trung recruited so many of his friends to donate. Chú Hải and cô Oanh helped me a lot. The print book should come out soon. I know if you were here, you’d want to throw a big reception. People still talk about how impressive that launch party you organized for Their War was. We’re going to hold an event at the Seattle Public Library Central Branch, like you always wanted. Quyền offered to organize a book event at FogRose.
You said having my own business would mean freedom. You were right. You also said, “Remember, people need you.” That one is harder to absorb. Sometimes I question how much people actually need what I have to offer. When these self-doubts arise, I think of you. I know so much of who I am and what I do is because of your unconditional love and support.
You have so many people who miss you. Bác Quý often text messages me old photos of you and her family. Melanie has your picture on her Facebook cover page. Countless friends remember how you’d regularly check in.
The community misses you too. You made it into the Seattle Times Most Influential People Who Died in 2021. You were the only Vietnamese person on the list.
Even though I miss you so much, I don’t resent not getting more time with you. I’m grateful for the time we did get. I was so lucky I was to have you as my father.
Con gái rượu của bố,