Originally posted to Instagram, June 20, 2021, https://www.instagram.com/p/CQW1XuxH8x8/ by Mariam-Sena (Maro) Haile, daughter.
Father's Day is empty for me this year.
Papa succumbed to his illnesses a week ago, and was laid to rest on Friday. We, his family, are grateful for how hard he fought to the bitter end. He didn't want to leave us.
And he didn't want to leave Ethiopia either. He didn't want to leave his many students or his manuscripts. Ethiopia was his first love and that love only continued to grow, even when that country almost took his life and chased him away forever, leaving him wheelchair-bound early in his life. He is resting peacefully now, but with a heavy heart that yearned to return but could not.
The immediate reaction to the news of his passing was overwhelming. The news spread like wildfire and we weren't expecting that. We didn't even get to tell our family in Ethiopia before they found out via social media. I woke up the next day and read through thousands of comments and posts dedicated to him. "A giant tree has fallen! Ethiopia lost a shining light! We lost our library! Our professor! He was my mentor! My spiritual guide!" Several people had changed their avatars to photos of him. I didn't know how to process all this exactly, but I did find it comforting.
The story behind this illustration goes back many years to when the 3rd X-Men movie came out. I watched and distinctly remember when The Professor was killed. The Professor was dedicated to his students who loved and revered him dearly. He was also wheelchair-bound due to an attack by enemy fire. Like everyone else, I was stunned by his death. But unlike everyone else, when the next scene showed an empty wheelchair sitting in his office, I fell apart. It was meant to be a touching reflection on the loss of his life, but for me, the parallels brought on an emotional overload. It was an image that haunted me ever since.
Papa lived a long, full life, but had been sick for some time now, so we were expecting his loss. I've known there'd come the day that his wheelchair would sit forever empty in his office, but still, I haven't fully grasped what it will be like to never see or talk to him again. It will be sad and difficult, but I'm forever grateful to have had him. He was the perfect muse.