“What do you miss most about your dad?” my yoga therapist, Anastasia, asked me a few weeks after my father passed away. Without much thought, I replied: “I lost my biggest fan…” Minutes later, I sobbed endlessly in my car and I realized, that up until that day, I hadn’t allowed myself the time to grieve properly. “You have more fans than you know..” Anastasia’s words echoed in my head. She was right. Only, no one matched daddy… Dad was my first phone call every single morning. He wanted a full report every time I was training for a half marathon: my nutrition plan, how early I went to my morning runs and how many kms I ran. He even shared his forecasts for my finish time and was my support team in so many races. He cheered for me at the finish line in Prague, after he proudly told the Czech PM that I was amongst the Cyprus delegation. He held my hand at my last ½ marathon in Paphos, when I was about to faint, and helped me cross the finish line with a smile. Dad had a distinctive way of simplifying complex situations and the charisma to help us live life with a touch of spice. During dad’s six-month ordeal, I came to the realization that life has all kinds of tastes: sweet, salty, delicious, sour, nourishing and toxic. When the taste gets sour, we must remember to sprinkle life with an extra dose of love, have faith, stay positive and stay close to friends of heart and family. It was time to start living again as life ought to be lived. Smile at his wonderful memories, let his legacy live on, re-live his myriad cheer leading moments, and open my eyes wide open- to remind myself that there is still beauty around me. And love. Once I removed that protective shield, love and light started to pour in. And, I allowed it to stay with me. But…it still took an effort to smile… It was during this challenging time that I randomly found myself in the United States (a place I call my ‘Wonderland’ with lifelong memories which hold a very special place in my heart). A two-week program on civil society, together with representatives from 30 countries was my gift from a guardian angel in disguise. Despite the intensive program and long hours, I had to make time to see my friends of heart- friends who reside deep into my soul. Friends, who had stood by me through my dad’s ordeal from afar. So much love and care from my ‘Americanakia’… 12 guardian angels whom I was blessed to reunite with. While chillaxing at the hotel terrace one day, a butterfly fluttered over my head and landed on my shoulder, where it stayed endlessly as in a state of daze. For the first time in three months, my heart smiled.. I felt that it was my dad sprinkling a touch of magic back into my life, telling me that I look prettier when I smile. From that moment, my dad’s smiling face was all I saw. That enchanting butterfly brought with it a reunion with an old friend, whom I hadn’t seen in almost two decades. A friend, who had also lost a parent and could feel my pain… A friend who managed to make me see daddy’s passing with a different perspective… “He’s still here,” he told me with a smile. “He’s part of you.” It is true what they say that ‘people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.’ Whichever the case, I am incredibly grateful to have had such exceptional friends around me at such a defining stage of my life- a time when I consciously decided to leap out of my cocoon and, quite simply, start living again. I feel honored…and blessed..