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There’s Never Enough Time: Dealing with the Sudden Loss of My Father

On Sunday, January 2nd, my world was rocked when my father, Joseph Georges “Paco” Sulmers died, within minutes of me waving him goodbye.

My Dad was a stickler for time. So while I groaned when he asked me to meet him at 11am on a Sunday (I generally don’t like to get anywhere until the afternoon), I obliged. I rang the bell at 11:02. Though I had built a reputation for being fashionably late, I was always looking to shake that stigma. I strived to make Paco proud, to exceed his expectations. He opened the door and welcomed me in. When I asked him what the plan was–were we going to lunch? Headed to look at a property? He told me that he instructed me to come at 11am because he assumed I’d show up at 1pm (lol).

We sat down at his living room table. Normally the TV would be buzzing, or music would be playing, but it was silent. My stepmother offered me some coffee, and I gladly accepted. Then, over the course of 2 and a half hours, the three of us just sat and talked. Few distractions. Some phones. But mostly just sitting, face to face, talking about life experiences.

My Dad, a veteran airline pilot for 38 years, told me of his various trips to places like South Africa, Iceland, and Ghana. We talked about my love life, business (his favorite topic), and my recent trip to Senegal. We ate black eyed peas and collard greens (for good luck and money in the New Year), and Soup Joumou (a traditional Haitian dish consumed on Haitian Independence Day, January 1st). It was an untraditional visit. Normally, I’d be cruising around with my Dad as he visited some of his various properties, or going to some fancy restaurant. Instead, we sat and talked for hours about everything and nothing at all.

Once we finished dessert, I went to go work on my latest Facebook article. Right before I left, my Dad asked me about Facebook: How much are they paying you? My last text to him was me sending him a link to read it. My Dad was all about business, the only person blunt enough to ask me straight up how much was in my bank account. The concept of social media befuddled him. He once asked, If you have millions of followers, why don’t you just ask each of them to give you $1? When I told him I did something on TV, he would ask if they paid me. When I told him I was on a billboard in Times Square, his line of questioning was similar. He did not understand doing things for an opportunity or for exposure. He was mostly interested in the bottom line.

A man of means, my Dad loved to talk about money. But I made sure that we separated business from our relationship. I learned early in life that we got along much better that way. He had wanted to get involved in my company, offered to help me buy a house, and connect me to his accountants. In my twenties, I realized that things got funny when mixing with my Dad’s money, so I declined. I didn’t want to corrupt our relationship. Instead of spend his money, I spent my time.

Time is fleeting. Time is precious. Time is finite. We all have a set amount of time on this earth. GOD calls us to him in his perfect time, not a day or a moment too early or too late. Time is the one thing you can’t get back. In my past few days of reflection on my father’s sudden death, I realize he gave me something priceless: quality time spent with him in his final moments in this realm.

As I was leaving, I joked with my Dad that next time, I needed to test drive his new Red Corvette. He said, “Huh?” He hadn’t heard me. In my mind, I chuckled that my parents were getting old. I wanted to get one of our selfies, but I told myself, “Next time.” Not realizing there wouldn’t be a next time. There’s never enough time.

Grief comes in waves. Sometimes you’re fine, then you see a picture. Or you hear a song (my Dad liked the group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and a song called Big Girls Don’t Cry has seemed apropos over the past few days). But as the saying goes, Time Heals all Wounds. And I can share with those who have similarly suffered a loss that each day that passes gets easier.

In light of this tragedy, I’m committed even moreso to living life to the fullest. Doing all that I envision, knowing that tomorrow is not promised.

In 2022, I’m finally writing that 2nd book. Doing more TV. Elevating in every way. If you can’t tell by now, I inherited my love for nice things from my Dad. He knew how to treat himself and I will continue his legacy by doing the same.

My Dad lives on through his children, his family, and the community he created. He is gone, but I’ll never forget him or the time we shared.

If your parents are still with you, spend time with them. Take videos and pictures, create memories. The moments you shared will sustain you through your sorrow once they’re gone. Besides, we’re all just passing through on this journey called life.

Love you Dad,

*I took the video below last year, around this time. I had a feeling I would cherish this one day. My dad seems impatient. At the end he says, “I’m trying to enjoy my life, what’s left of it.

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