I’ve stopped counting days since dad passed away. It doesn’t matter anymore because I know no matter what I will always miss him – like when I’m cooking, I think of him calling me up and asking me what I have cooked for the day or when I’m watching the news, I think of what dad’s opinion would be on the news or when I’m walking down the street and I witness something that I’m sure would make dad laugh. I’m just grateful there are people I can share those memories with -my husband, my children and my sister and we can laugh at the good times despite the pain.
Putting things into perspective : I did not write or pick calls over the last few days. I needed time to think it all out, put down what had happened in a chronological order so I could make sense of it. It helped me – to put it all down – the good times- the bad times- the calls- what happened between the doctor saying he could be discharged and him not making it home. It had all happened so suddenly. Writing it helped clear my brain.
Going for a walk Yesterday I went for a run at the break of dawn for the first time after dad. Getting past the stage of blaming – myself, God, others and the situation wouldn’t have been easy if not for my sister. The silence of the morning helped me see past my pain.
I had blamed God for dad’s decision to go to the diabetes camp in May 2018.One of the main reasons for me leaving my job and coming to the country was because I looked forward to being with dad. I had it all planned- dad and me exploring Mumbai when the kids were at school and my husband was at work. But God had other plans. The day I landed in the country dad took ill for the first time and was admitted to the ICU. A month before that he had gone for a diabetes camp and he had changed his entire eating habits. He wanted to get rid of the one tablet that he needed to take for diabetes. The ICU episode caused as a result of his new eating habits and lack of essential nutrients, ended up in him having to take several tablets. He wasn’t the same person anymore. He was constantly worried about him losing weight. It wasn’t easy being dad’s caretaker for he was physically weak but was strong-willed and independent minded. We spent a year and a half visiting doctors who simply could find no reason for him losing weight.
I blamed the situation. Dad left to the senior home in July 2019 as we were travelling on holiday. He did not wish to stay back at home with a maid and a caretaker. He wanted a place where there’d be people. He liked it in Bangalore where he moved because of the weather, the language and the fact that there were people constantly watching over him. Dad was set to return in July 2020 after the children’s board exams (he had not wanted to be stressed out during both the girls’ exams), but the lockdown happened. And it carried on endlessly. It frustrated him that we couldn’t visit him. We talked about it and I asked him to hold on a little longer until it was safe to travel for him. Unfortunately it did not happen.
I felt betrayed by a friend of mine who did not have the time to return my call when dad was hospitalized a month ago. I knew in my heart it wasn’t her fault and yet… I guess it was easier to blame someone than accept what had happened. It was her house that dad and I had visited just before the lockdown was enforced on March 18th in Bangalore. We – dad, she, my daughter and I had gone shopping together to buy things for dad. We had had a good time. I blamed her for not caring enough to call back even when I messaged her that dad was hospitalized. I could not bring myself to speak to her for days after it happened though I was grateful for a wonderful afternoon spent at her home with dad and her sweet son. Two days ago we spoke. She said she was sorry – that she hated the fact she couldn’t be there for me or for him. She didn’t have to. She’s been going through a bad patch in her life herself. I’m glad we spoke. It reduced the baggage I had been carrying and I got my friend back. It does not make sense to lose the people who love you and who care for you because of the pain you carry in your heart for those who’ve gone.
I blamed myself. I felt maybe I had fallen short. My younger sister helped me see through it – reminding me of the good times and telling me that there was nothing that I or anybody else could do to change what happened. There will always be some regret when you lose someone. No matter what you do, you will always feel that there could be something more that you could have been done. There will always be pain even if you know the person is in a better place. But that’s life. Life is not the last one year or two before one passes away. It’s all the years that one lived – a million different moments. If a majority of such moments are worth celebrating or bring a smile to your lips, then that’s what you need to remember. I tell myself that. So, every time I feel myself spiral downwards, I remind myself of the good times.
My anger and resentment has changed to gratitude for all that was and has been.
I feel grateful that dad did not suffer. He was as alert as ever until the end. And when the end came, it was like the lights were turned off and he went to sleep. He had no pain except for a little which is why he went to the hospital. The pain-killers helped him with it. During the last few months, dad was worried that he might get paralyzed because of insufficient blood supply to his brain. He was worried that the severe constipation was the result of cancer in his intestine or colon. None of it happened and I am thankful for that. I am grateful dad did not get corona or else we would not have been allowed to get near him. Despite visiting the hospital several times, despite his age, his diabetes, corona did not touch him.
I feel grateful for family who’s been with me through this. I have repeated the same things over and over again over the last twenty days. My children, my husband, my sister have given me a patient ear- not once telling me that they were tired of listening. I am grateful to my extended family for giving me the space and the time to heal for all the holidays we spent as one big family together.
I am grateful to my childhood friend who called me yesterday for the first time since dad passed away. I had told her I needed time. She understood it as childhood friends do. She had been arranging for a full-time nurse for dad to help with taking care of him once I brought him home. It felt good to speak to her about dad.
I am grateful for friends who messaged me cheering me on and sent me positive thoughts through this time. Some new friends who feel like old.
I am grateful for my decision to speak to some and stay away from some. I have done it free of guilt because my only priority during this time has been to heal. Not all people are the same- not even if they mean well – not all know the right thing to say in situations which require sensitive handling- not all touch the right cords. With people like me for whom words matter and can break or make relationships, it’s important to stay away from those who use their words casually. I have selfishly guarded my need for space without thinking of what anybody feels or thinks. It was the only way not to sour relationships.
If you’re going through something that’s hurting you, make ‘YOU’ the priority. Nobody knows what you need other than you. Take care of ‘YOU.’
I am extremely grateful to the bloggers– who reached out to me and shared their own personal experiences. I have met none of these bloggers and yet in these times I have felt a strong connection. A big thank you to Jo, Andrea, Lynn, Robbie, Kamal, GS Subbu, Pragalbha for your wisdom, your kindness and for hearing me out.
P.S. This morning when I woke up and turned to see the sky, the words of the song from Titanic played in my head :
Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you go on
Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more, you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
I thought of dad and I know this is how it is going to be…
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