DSCF1954The moments of solitude gather the very same thoughts I dread. Memories keep pecking and picking at me. They rub salt on the bruises over and over. The adamant wounds refuse to heal. It hurts.

I am not the first human to lose a parent. However for me the experience of losing someone I had known all my life was not like what I had expected it to be.

We were prepared – that’s what we all supposed. Prepared for what? To see him die? However, there was a lot more we were not prepared for. The void left behind by the departed one is unfathomable and alarming. I feel it now. Though trite, such statements about death seem to be gaining more depth at this point.

When I saw him on his last night (Oct. 10, the day I reached there), the glow in his eyes was on the wane. His eyes were open and gazing but I doubt whether they perceived anything. He was greedily devouring every bit of air. The laboured breath was not at all giving him any ‘satisfaction’, I could read his thoughts. Seeing his struggle I realized there is nothing more (mundanely) divine than to be able to breathe normally!

I could not believe I was looking at the same person I bid goodbye five weeks before.

What was in his mind? Did he have something to tell us?

While others tried to inform him about my arrival he kept on murmuring, “Aara? Aara?” (Who’s that?) Did he recognize me? No cue. He had no last words for me, not even my name. When I asked him if he needed something he clearly stated he did not. All communication was gradually coming to an end, so were his requirements. After all what was left to say and ask? Or, were all the untold words, the unexpressed feelings and fears choking him?

By the next morning it was as if his body had already given itself the pack up call. After two feeds we felt we were just filling in a body that was no more in need of such nourishment. The huge oxygen cylinder bubbled listlessly. He was perspiring with each variation in his body. We could read the changes even without the pulse/saturation meter (a device that is going to haunt me forever). And my sister asked me later, “What were we waiting for, monitoring the readings each minute?” Maybe there was nothing left to do other than just watch.

By noon the readings started hitting new lows.

Were we disturbing and distracting him with all our expressions of concern?

Around 5.30 in the evening I saw something gurgling in his mouth. He opened his eyes wide for the first time that day and stared up the ceiling one last time with tremendous effort. The numbers kept on descending. And then the next moment…    the meter had nothing to say except some meaningful/less dots… We knew it was all over.

The days and nights he spent in constant fear of the looming death came to an end. An entity that moved, thought, loved, hated, desired, planned, rejoiced, won, defeated, failed, created, ate, drank, fought for about eight decades finally gave up.

Did he have the courage to go alone?

The body was still warm and quivering with the last vestige of life left. And for the first time I saw an unusual serenity and stillness spread and then linger on his face. He was relieved of all strain and anxieties. Peace!

*   *  *

Even these thousands of miles in between me and his abode is not thick enough to prevent the agonizing memories from seeping in.

*   *   *

Life thrilled him as much as it failed and hurt him. The thrill came from his talents and the disappointment, from his expectations about life and people. He was never short of solutions, ideas, plans, preparations, stories. Nothing irritated him more than lack of punctuality and perfection. Was he punctual? Yes, to the core. Was he perfect? According to his unique parameters, yes.

I don’t intend to go for sentimental eulogies right now. I owe my life to my parents and I am grateful to my father for what I have inherited and learned from him. [Link]

He had been much more than an average human being and the impressions he left will pose real hard work for time to erase. I am not underestimating the powers of time. It’s just a month – obviously too early to forget a dear and near one.

[Link] And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


18 responses to “Loss

  1. I am very sorry for your loss, Bindu. Beautifully written piece.

  2. Oh – I know this feeling well (twice over) my thoughts are with you at this time Bindu! It’s tough watching any loved one die, but a mother or father is right to the core of who we are – and it really hurts. And the adjustment in the mind for their disappearance is takes some getting used to. But I can assure you that for most people I’ve known and myself it does get easier with time. It will vary with different people of course, but that dreadful aching and almost unbelief that your parent has gone, does let go after a few weeks or months.

    I have to say, your writing here about this moment in your life is quite beautiful, I was really there with you in your description of how you and your sister felt. I think partly it’s because I’ve seen that struggling to breathe myself – and it is a terrible that time, you feel helpless, nothing worse than feeling helpless. But also maybe this experience, painful as it has been, and still is, has enhanced your writing even more?

    The death of my mother was actually the encouragement I needed to finally engage my mind to the writing, as I had neglected it for years. So even in her death she gave me something precious. It was the most beautiful gift I’ve ever been given, and the one I had waited all my life for. Life is strange, the good sometimes comes from the bad. And I hope that you find this too, that along the way in releasing your grief – you will find those precious things, the ones you need most!

    All my best wishes to you and your family Bindu, for peace to find you again!
    Suzy xx

    • Thanks a lot, Suzy, for your compassionate words. Sorry to know that you have already been through the pain twice. We’ll get used to it, we have to. The images will fade out as we blend more with our life. That’s how it has been with everyone who has lost parents, I know. At times it pricks, sometimes it even purges us. I don’t know how it would be like after they are both gone. My greatest fear is whether that would put an end to the feeling of oneness that binds us siblings right now. I don’t want that to happen, ever. We are children only as long as our parents are there.
      Hope you are getting on well with your writing. Best wishes! 🙂

  3. A time for you to be quiet and reflect… FInding the strength and courage to move on with your life as your parents taught you to… Feel the fullness of your heart and soul… it remains truly whole… Take care, Barbara

    • Thank you, Barbarafranken, for your kind words. It would take quite some time to get adjusted with the loss. My job and my family keep me busy and that helps a lot.

  4. Words most often are useless at this juncture. Still let me say, I am really sorry for your loss. Your words say a lot.

  5. My deepest condolences for this tragic loss. Time is the healer and may the Almighty give you and all near and dear ones the courage to bear.

  6. I am sorry for your loss… you write beautifully and soulfully… Writing is a good way to heal the pain. Take Care.

  7. Death is an unavoidable event. Don’t allow your fathers believes, thoughts and knowledge to die. Always live as how he taught you to lead your life. I remember the way you gave examples from your papas life. You are lucky to be with him at him last time.

    • Thank you, dear! It’s a pain so hard to explain. Was thinking of the post master in the story The Letter. Until we go through it we would never know what it is like.

  8. Am sorry for your loss, Bindu, and sorry that I came over a bit late to tell you of it. No matter how much, as you say, one is ‘prepared’ for the loss that happens, it always is gut-wrenching. No matter that you share those feelings or not. Hugs.

    • “The true extent of loss by death is not felt in subdued funeral excitement. The real tears come later…” – this is the latest FB post of a friend who lost his mother yesterday. True. The real pain surfaces after a week or two. Thank you, Usha, for your kind words.

  9. My thoughts are with you and I wanted to let you know this piece was comforting to me. My beloved father has been struggling for breath more frequently lately. Even as the doctors do all that they can and we pray for more time for him in this life, we know we could lose him at any time. I am trying to be grateful for his long life, and to prepare for what one can never adequately prepare for. I know grief is a long process and I pray you are finding comfort as the weeks and months pass.

    • Sorry to know about the condition of your father. Spend some time with him. Listen to him. Make him feel good. There is nothing better to do. I shall pray for him. Even when they are too sick we will never be able to imagine how we would feel when they are finally gone. I cannot believe Papa is no longer there. His words, voice, gestures, everything constantly flashes through my mind. Now I have adjusted myself to the loss. My mother is too sick now. But I feel she is going to be there for ever.
      Thank you, Julia, for your visit. I am in the busiest month of the year. Hoping to relax for a week after 31 March reading your blog.

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