Grief, they say, doesn’t have an expiration date. It perhaps fades with time, but never leaves you.

Born and raised in India, I moved to the United States nine years ago for a new beginning in life. Being an only child, it was difficult to say goodbye to my parents and I missed them terribly – but they were happy to see the direction my life was headed in. Seasons would (as they always do) change, with the cherry blossoms blooming every spring and the autumn leaves painting different mosaics on the hills of California every year.

One of the happiest moments in my life was when I joined Cisco seven years ago as a Customer Support Engineer. Cisco became a second home to me, and I truly couldn’t ask for more from such a wonderful company. It is one of the many reasons I believe in our motto #LoveWhereYouWork, everyone here has my back and my leadership team has always been supportive of me from exploring new career opportunities to being there when I needed them most.

Three years ago, was a perfect example of this as my father was diagnosed with cancer. It was a difficult time for my family, and I knew I had to go visit him. I packed up myself and my then one year old and traveled 7,000 miles one way to be with him. Because of Cisco’s commitment to “Family First” and offering a flexible work environment – I am glad that I could make this trip every year for the last three years.

If it hadn’t been for the support of my leadership, and the awesome team I work with, this would not have been possible. My team has been there for me every step of the way in helping to balance my workload while I was visiting my father. They stood by me throughout and showcased why at Cisco we have the very best teams. Last year, when the cancer metastasized I remember calling my manager at 7am and told him, “I think I need to go.”  He didn’t hesitate with his response, it was simply – “Go!”

I spent that next month making memories with my dad – moments I will treasure for the rest of my life.

In September, I visited with my father for the last time. I held his hand in the ICU for ten whole minutes where he wouldn’t let go. I think maybe he knew it would be our last few moments together. Two weeks after I returned to the United States, he left for his heavenly abode. I will never forget the warmth of his wrinkled hand and the last time I kissed his forehead.

I miss my dad a lot. He was an intelligent, funny and handsome man. Efficient and witty, he taught me the basics of life – from Engineering to baking. From him I learned to be humble and kind. I wish he stayed a little longer. I wish he could see my son graduate, see my mom and me grow older, and celebrate his 70th and 80th birthdays! But I am thankful for the time we had.

Some of that time I would not have had without Cisco’s dedication to its employees and our families. They allowed – and encouraged! – me to see my dad any time I wanted. Cisco has given me a lot of things I appreciate, such as the valuable time I was given to be with my son when he was born – but the time I as given to say goodbye to my dad is a gift I will always cherish from this incredible technology company that puts people first.

I will wait to meet you on the other side of the Rainbow, dad – till that time, take care and be funny!

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Mitali Bhadra

Data Center Customer Delivery, CX