Solitude

 

“The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.”

It has been quite some time since  I last wrote here. It’s not intentional but life happens and as the years pass the urge to share my feelings with anyone outside of me subsides. It’s the nature of this journey that I’m on. Never wanted to be here but I wasn’t given a choice.

I’m now into my seventh year of loosing my wife and I wish I could say it’s become easier. It has of course not, grief has changed though, despite the waves crashing into me quite often, I’m able to carry on with my life as if nothing of the sort ever happened. I’m stunned at the ways my mind deceives me.

And yet there are days when it all becomes too bare and too raw again. As with most of us around the world,I’m into self quarantine because the Chinese decided to unleash the coronavirus monster on the world.

I’ve been working full time from home for about two weeks now. Being an introvert,I’m hardly complaining. But a break in the familiar routine has done away with pretentions and exposed me again to grief which suddenly seems all too familiar and raw as it was in the early months and years.

I remember the DABDA – Denial, Anger,Bargaining,Depression and Acceptance. It seemed bizarre when I first chanced upon it. I wasn’t wrong for Elisabeth Kubler Ross who devised the model eventually ended up regretting anything to do with it.

As it often happens, reality is markedly different. My grief journey is my own, as unique as my world once was. It’s mine to walk without comparing with anyone else’s despite what the society may say.

I’m supposed to be done and dusted with this whole grief thing by now, imagine six years and counting. However, as I read somewhere “Grief is all the love that has no place else to go”. In other words, as long as there is love, there will be grief. It’s almost a relief to arrive at that conclusion notwithstanding my pain.

As most of the world has gone into a much needed lock down, the silence in the early mornings and at dusk has started to speak volumes again. I look at the swaying trees in the distance, at the flock of birds and the myriad colors of the sky at dusk and it allows me to once again feel the grief and sadness that I’ve kept within me all these years.

I can’t help wondering how I would have felt without all the pain. I miss the person I was before and though my life has taken a path that only goes forward, I can’t help looking back at all that I was forced to leave behind. It seems so grossly unfair and meaningless.

I fail to see any divine plan or a “things happen for a reason” behind this. I hate the fact that somehow I was the chosen one for such a nonsensical experiment.

I am writing this from my little study which I have started using again. She used to say jokingly that I wanted a room to myself to escape from her and our son. The irony isn’t lost on me as I remember everything that once was from this space.

My sincere prayers for all those who lost loved ones as this dreaded virus ravages the world. Our grief journeys are as eternal as our love. Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new decade

“And when your sorrow is comforted ,you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”

Another year went by but I felt more left behind by the decade coming to an end. When it started back in 2010, life was completely different and then everything changed in 2014 when I lost my wife. I turn 45 this year which puts me firmly in middle age, no more in early forties.

I no longer look to the future in the same sense as I did once, the innocence and optimism of my youth were dealt a cruel blow too early in life. Grief can be extremely isolating, it’s impossible for most to understand what it is like to lose a spouse and that too so early.

It didn’t take me too long to realize that except a few close friends and family most were not even interested. They moved on and expected me to move on too, my grief made them uncomfortable. Slowly I found that I was shunned and it was fine with me, my introvertness helped.

I got remarried couple of years ago and slowly found my way back to society but it just wasn’t the same again. Most people I meet do not know my story which is just as fine. I do not subscribe to the usual paraphrenalia of positivity, gratitude etc. It seems to me they are some sort of band aid which only end up making the wound hurt so much more.

After close to six years, I can truly say that grievers only want to be heard without being judged or being told what they should be feeling or subjected to other platitudes which can be cruel at times.

I’m sorry to say that time doesn’t heal, infact there is no healing possible. What one becomes better with time is in learning to carry the burden of grief better and for longer periods of time.

I spend a large part of my time reading. I have a deep interest in the sciences and I can be glued to youtube lectures for hours on end. I find that they keep me from falling into the black holes of grief and loss. I can find joy again in reading and other intellectual pursuits and in that sense I am healed.

I had initially created this blog as a small memorial for my lovely wife and to document my own journey without her. I am thankful I did because I found people here who are on similar journey as me and their heartfelt and thoughtful comments provided me much needed solace,

Society places too much pressure on people like us to heal, to be happy, to return to the old self that we once were. Any impediments in this are seen as signs of negativity, of being depressed or mournful. I’m neither sad nor happy all the time and I find that to be perfectly normal.

Some days even without any significance or milestone can still be hard and I accept them. I embrace whatever comes my way without judgement. I’m no longer the person I was, both tragedy and age have had their effect. But I retain the core of my identity and when I find that I’m able to again enjoy things that once gave me lot of pleasure, I’m encouraged that I’m doing just fine.

My treasured memories provide me both warmth and at times cause searing emotional trauma. I have learned to hide them over the years and carry on as all of us on this path do from time to time.

It gives me great joy to hear stories of my wife from others. It still brings tears sometimes but it literally warms my heart to know that she’s not forgotten. She took great pains to ensure that no one amongst her family or friends felt ignored or left behind. She loved having people around.

I never imagined I would be spending my forties without her and the start of a new decade simply brought back emotional wounds long suppressed. I sometimes wonder what she would say to me now that I’m approaching 45 in a couple of months.Loss of a soulmate is so multi layered that with time and age new wounds open up.

Though I do not write here regularly, I do read about others who are on this journey. Sometimes their accounts take me to my own initial days and it gets too hard to even read as I know those feelings so intimately. And despite that every loss, every journey is so unique and exclusive that no rules can be framed.

I doubt if anything happens for a reason or has a celestial explanation. The sun will burn out in another 5 billion years and the earth will go with it. Then what has been the meaning of it all? I do not know, these are existential questions.

But then we met in a certain age, for a certain time that was entirely ours. That will stay with me forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembrance

When one person is missing the whole world seems empty

As the intervening years pass, another birthday is here. My wife would have been 43 today but for her the clock ran out at 37. No matter what the numbers, her spirit is eternal and continues to guide me every day.

She had a special affinity for all the bright things in life – chocolate, sunlight, food, vacations, late night TV.. I guess they appealed to her always upbeat and ever jovial self.

It’s unimaginably hard to lose such a central figure in your life, the one I had planned to grow old with. No words have yet been invented to convey the range of emotions that I experienced in the years without her. So it will be futile for me to say anything more on that.

But on her special day I would like to remember and honor her in every way possible and it’s not that I need a day to do this. I do it in small ways every single day.

My son always remembers her mother’s birthday and this year was no different. He’s turning 12 next month and she would have been so proud. I have always shared her memories with my son. It makes me feel she is still amongst us and in that way we will never ever let her go.

I’m always told “She would want us to be happy”. I concur but then her physical absence isn’t always easy to ignore. She left a void so large in our lives that every now and then it seems to engulf me almost entirely.

She loved celebrating her birthday, her excitement was almost child like. I can recall everything so vividly that sometimes it’s hard to believe that so much has changed.

I never ever imagined I would loose her so soon. She was so fit and healthy till the cancer struck like a tsunami in our happy lives. She was a fitness freak and took her health seriously. And most of all, she was so happy and always positive and upbeat.

Today I miss the sense of control that she possessed over our life. I would defer most things to her knowing well that she was the best person to take care of everything that came our way.

I have aged much more than the years that have passed by. I wonder what she would think of me today. Life taught me lessons which I never wanted to learn in the first place.

Every year my son cuts a chocolate cake in her honor and we fondly remember her and yet it’s on days with no special significance that it hits me the most. Missing that one person in the world without whom I never imagined my life.

And yet life goes on. Her memories endure and in that sense we are together forever.

Amongst the living

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I recently watched “After Life” on Netflix and it captured my emotions in the most accurate way possible. Watching someone else play out the very same moments I have been through felt eerie and strangely therauptic. It felt familiar and comforting to know that I’m not alone and there are others who have walked on this path too.

Often so much importance is attributed to moving on and specially not talking about your memories or the person you have lost that it is largely unhelpful and at times extremely insensitive.

I have never understood society’s unwritten rule that to move forward you need to erase the steps you have taken in your past. Einstein once said “The past, present and future are all happening at the same time”. Life isn’t a linear progression of mechanical steps we take from the past into the present and future.

Grief is always the white elephant in a room, the one you are not supposed to bring up while everyone sees it in plain sight. The reason being that it makes other people uncomfortable. It took me sometime to realize that this wasn’t about me but about others which was bizarre because I was the one hurting.

After over five years of walking this path, I’ve become used to these unwritten dictums and vagaries of the world. It no longer bothers me because I’ve moved long past the phase of wanting people to listen to finding solace within myself. I have realized that for people who understand no explanation is necessary and for those who don’t none is sufficient.

I have found joy in my solitude and in the pursuit of my interests which keep me away from falling into the whirlpool of grief and longing. I read a lot and at almost every available opportunity. My reading takes me into myriad worlds and adventures from history to science, sports, memoirs and occasionally fiction.

I start every morning with a long brisk walk listening to my audio book and taking in the fresh early morning air and the invigorating sights of children going to school, little ones playing and people up and about getting ready for another day in their lives. Yoga and meditation are part of my daily morning routine – something that I’ve read extensively about and turned into a daily habit in the last few years.

And yet not a day goes by when I do not think about the loss I have endured. I miss her absence in every part of my life and somedays I’m just left astounded by how much of life has already passed by and how much the world has moved on. It’s the nature of life I guess to keep flowing regardless of what happens.

Looking at old pictures of our early years together, I’m stunned by how young we look and I’m deeply saddened by how much I took for granted. I was certain that life would unfold the way we had thought it would. I never saw it coming and wouldn’t have imagined this happening in a million years.

I can’t make any sense of it or the fact that is life supposed to have any meaning after all?And then I think why that should be, finding meaning in everything is a human trait, the universe doesn’t owe us anything. It doesn’t  care for our version of the truth.

It strangely makes me feel unburdened, relieves me from searching for meaning within the meaningless.

 

 

Mother’s Day

The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.

Today is Mother’s day and it’s hard to not think about my wife who is not here with us today. If she would have been here, she would have asked the same question – “Why there has to be a day about something”.

Being a mother was something that she enjoyed every single day. It was her pride and the joy of her life. She was always the one who could walk into a room and make you feel that “now I’m here and I will take care of everything”.

Blessed with boundless energy and an ever present smile she would go about her motherly duties. I can still see her smiling and laughing as she played with our little boy. She lived for him and nothing gave her a bigger joy than spending time playing with him.

I would often complain that I don’t get adequate attention and she would laugh it off. She took great care of her health and ate right despite the fact that she was a foodie at heart.

To de-stress she would often watch late night TV while simultaneously browsing social media or catching up on the latest page 3 gossip.

On weekends I would often sleep in and wake up to loud shrieks of laughter coming from the living room where she played with our son. After I lost her, those moments would haunt me a lot.

When we became parents we were in the US and away from family and learned to manage everything on our own. Those years were certainly the best of our lives as we slowly made the transition from newbie parents to experienced ones in a fairly short time.

After we moved back home, we continued to enjoy the toddler years and every day as a family was a blessing. There was so much to do and so much to look forward to.

Looking back those early years just flew by. I remember the first day of playschool and the early years of school when my wife was involved whole heartedly as a mom and made every important decision in our son’s life.

Of the two of us she was the stricter parent while I was mostly busy at work and would often be the one to take the softer way out. I remember sometimes she would put on an act of being angry because she wanted to teach something important like discipline or manners. I would play along and would often burst out laughing at the wrong time diluting everything. It drove her mad every time.

At most times though she was the most loving mother, affection was in her nature and she would play, laugh, dance, read books and have so much fun.

Often during the summer vacations she would take her little boy to the latest kid movie in town. Often I would join over the weekend and I have wonderful memories of watching toy story, super man and countless other movies.

She was a stickler when it came to manners and language. When I became a single parent I would really struggle in this area as I was suddenly both a mom and a dad.

It’s not that I need the reminder of a mother’s day to revisit memories. They are with me all the time. It’s just that today I don’t know in what other way I can keep her memory alive so I often turn to this blog that I have nurtured as a close friend and confidant over the years.

Today unlike other mothers her age, she isn’t there to enjoy motherhood – something that she so enjoyed and deserved. It’s something that hurts all the time and there’s no fix for that. Nothing can justify or compensate for her absence when we needed her the most.

As the years go by, many childhood milestones vanish without her to witness them. She lived for such moments and now she isn’t there in them.

Everytime I have written here, it’s to honor her beautiful memories and to honor her in every possible way that I can. Today also I write for the same reason.

Happy Mother’s day.

Five Years

It’s difficult for my mind to fathom that I’ve gone five years without the person I thought I couldn’t part for even a day. I guess I’ve just been resigned to fate.

Through years of loneliness, tears and isolation I’ve emerged old and weary as if burdened by this journey with no particular destination.

Grievers are often asked to move on, to live in the present and only the person carrying the burden of grief understands the futility of it. There’s no moving on or closure, we carry the memories within us. It’s the only thing that is left and we don’t want to be told to part with that too.

When I look back I sadly think about all the things that we had planned that never came to pass. I’ve been to new places and made new memories but it’s as if something deep has gone missing.

Perhaps it’s a big part of me that went missing years ago. Today when most people my age are celebrating so many years of togetherness, I find myself on the fifth anniversary of her absence.

A lot has happened in these years. I have survived the initial years of shock, trauma and stinging loneliness and slowly found myself coming to a place where loss has settled into my bones.

Today I’ve made a new life for myself. I have regained a certain sense of normality and stability in my life and yet there’s so much that has permanently gone missing.

I’ve seen people move on, relationships that changed forever and friends that I lost due to no fault of my own. Loneliness has been a constant companion on my journey.

I’ve been writing this blog on and off describing my grief journey from the initial months up until now. I rarely go back and compare how far I’ve come. I don’t know if that makes any difference.

I’m firmly approaching mid forties now, gone is the youthful innocence and optimism. I miss her energy, the safety that her presence provided. It’s hard to describe in words how much I’ve missed her in all these years.

If she was here, I wouldn’t have aged so much in these years. Her loss changed our life forever. I never saw it coming, for me she could fight anything, she was invincible.

Sometimes I wonder if these milestones even mean anything. Would I miss her any less tomorrow than I do today? I guess, in that sense grief defies boundaries of time and space. Just like love it permeates everything forever.

What I do know is that I remember her life way more than her passing. It’s impossible to picture her in any other way than she really was – always smiling, incredibly warm, full of energy and perpetually happy and positive. She was a force of nature.

I believe we all have been touched by her presence in our lives and it continues despite her physical absence today. In that sense she is always with me no matter where I am.

In My Life

“Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life– I love you more” – Beatles

These days I go for long periods of time in between my posts here. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. It’s not that I’ve a paucity of things to write about, its just that as time passes I’ve learned to carry more and more of this ever present grief within me. I remember in the days right after losing my wife I would write here almost every day because this was my only outlet.

The world no longer made sense to me anymore. Next month it would be five years without her and I’ve slowly started making sense of the world again, to search for meaning in what seemed meaningless for a long time. I’ve stopped looking for people who would understand my journey because I’ve realized its just me on this path. Grief can be cruel and isolating in nature.

Today it should have been 17 years of our marriage but instead I’m looking down on five years without her in this world and suddenly nothing makes sense anymore. Memories come flooding by of this day that we spent each year in our own simple way – having a lunch or dinner with few friends.

I specially remember spending our anniversary in 2006 in the beautiful smokies in Gatlinburg, TN. It was cold and it had recently snowed, still remember the warm smell of pancakes and coffee on that lovely holiday. Then in the years just before our little boy was born, we would often celebrate at home – just the two of us ordering food and watching a movie.

In the years gone by, at home in India it was always marked by friends and family calling all day to wish us. She would do most of the talking knowing my staggering limitations at social talk. I hid behind her at most social occasions marveling at how easy it was for her to connect to everyone regardless of age.

As our anniversary fell right next to Valentine’s Day, we would often combine the two. She never believed in Valentine or any such commercially promoted days always having the same question “Why there has to be a day for anything”.? She would make it a point to always tell our son that his parents got married on this day and little that he was, he found it quite amusing!

The years with her and our beautiful life together came to an abrupt end which I couldn’t have imagined in a million years. Our last anniversary together was spent in the hospital. The cancer had returned a week before and though we were looking down the barrel, I didn’t know it then. For me it was just another roadblock we had hit and once passed eventually we would get back our life.

Reality works differently and only a month later I had lost her forever. And then came the anniversaries I spent alone with my memories and my salty tears to keep me company. Today it’s a fri and its just another day at work for rest of the world. I’m here carrying this burden of grief as best as I can. I have gotten so much better at hiding everything away within me. Probably this is what they must call as the journey becoming ‘easier’ after all these years.

When you lose your soulmate, one of the most painful things is the loss of shared history. All the memories of special occasions, holidays, parenting everything is only within me now. There’s no one I can turn to and share them with. The person with whom I created these is long gone and I’ve become the keeper of memories.

Loneliness

“If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light, If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you.”  Henry Rollins

It’s almost the end of the year and like the years gone by I am on vacation at home. I always wait eagerly for the break and then when it comes I don’t know what to do. I generally read a lot, go on long solo walks listening to audio books. I’m a loner and a recluse.

The other thing I have indulged in lately is watching west wing. It’s a good distraction as I follow the lives of the characters many of whom I feel like I know intimately. Perhaps that is testimony to the absolutely fantastic script writing by Aaron Sorkin. I just finished season three and I’m glad that there are so many more to keep me company.

But in the midst of this all, its hard not to be reminded of the memories of yesteryears. My late wife reveled in planing vacations and this time of the year we would be either vacationing somewhere exotic or at my in law’s place enjoying family time. She was the center of all the festivities, conducting everything with the familiar warmth that all of us had become accustomed too.

There was no burden of grief to carry, no wistful looking over your shoulder, no emotional pain to deal with at the most unexpected of places.People often talk of healing and closure but after close to five years of walking down this path, I don’t know if any such thing exists. The pain is as real as it ever was and I’m beginning to realize that there’s no getting around that.

Holidays can be hard on people who have lost their loved ones because it reminds them of what was and what can never be again and that hurts. But then we are supposed to celebrate and live the moment and be happy when with others but grieve in private. I wonder why that is but it’s just the way it is.

We are often told to be grateful for what we have and to look ahead, not back. But then feelings and emotions defy commonsense and logic. We miss our loved ones dearly and have an emotional need to talk about them, to have the assurance and the safety to rekindle old memories without being judged or being sentenced as people who are stuck in their past.

And yet, none of this actually happens as the world goes on in its wake. No one mentions them anymore, you look at social media filled with holidays, anniversaries and birthdays but no one writes about them anymore. Its like they never existed, so not only we lost them and our shared history but also their place in our current social structures.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this but it did. I guess all of us who have lost someone so close struggle with the duality of our lives. On one hand we live ‘normal’ lives filled with responsibilities, trying our best to make it count, to bring back the happiness for our kids to whom life was so grossly unfair at such a tender age, we work as hard as before or perhaps harder, we try to fit in with people our age who are still fortunately unaware of what losing your soulmate feels like.. we do all these things and more in building a new life.

And yet when we catch a breath and find ourselves alone, there’s nobody around who understands, we are all by ourselves in our agony and our grief. We wait for that one message of understanding and compassion which now comes from a very select few and almost never from most. Birthdays, anniversaries come and go by mostly unnoticed. We soldier through all these alone because that’s the way it is. I wonder how it got this way though..

It hasn’t been easy all these years but I guess I’m a survivor and somehow I have found a way to keep moving forward even though many times it feels like one step forward and two steps back. So this holiday, I will continue to read, write and do the things that still bring me joy. But I wish I didn’t feel so lonely doing all of this. I realize, I’ve been trying all these years to come to terms with this loneliness and it still feels as hard.

As the seasons change, the old gives way to the new and the wheels of life keep moving in their perpetual cycles, erasing our footprints in the sand,I intend to keep writing here because there are things inside us that no one can take away and its in those places that our loved ones continue to live on through us.

 

Of Birthdays and Lonely Memories

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”
― John Green

Sep 25th is my wife’s birthday and yesterday was another of those days that was spent in quiet reflection and fond memories of the birthdays celebrated together over the years. This was a date she looked forward to most every year, not that she needed a reason to celebrate as she was always her jovial and ever happy self.

As  several anniversaries and birthdays go past every year, I have slowly become better at keeping myself together. Last few days have been busy with work and at home and yet there is that unmistakable slowness as if I’m just a mute spectator witness to my own life.

There were several things heartwarming about yesterday which helped in lessening my pain. My son cut a cake to celebrate his beloved mumma’s birthday and it was baked by his new mom. It was a special moment for us and I’m thankful for it. Then I received messages from family and an old friend of my wife’s who also shared a lovely piece written to honor her on this special day.

Often I’ve experienced mostly loneliness and isolation when it comes to my grief journey.  Most people have moved on and it took me sometime to realize that they were never stuck in the first place. Years went by when I would not even get a simple message to acknowledge the day except from just a few people who were very close to her.

This hurt me deeply as it felt like a betrayal to her memory. All I wanted was just one line from anyone who has known her saying “We remember her today and we miss her” but what I mostly got was deafening silence. It was as if she never existed and it made me bitter and angry at the world.

I found most social media so shallow that I eventually quit the likes of facebook and instagram for good. People have no trouble putting up pictures and numerous inane posts about how they are living their dream but when it comes to acknowledging someone on important occasions, someone who should have been here and living the life that they have been granted, all I saw was a deafening, inexcusable silence.

At the same time, I’m grateful for the few friends and family who wrote and expressed their feelings and emotions for her. She was the warmest and the most selfless person I’ve had the fortune to know closely and she deserved much better. Every person who has met her even for just one time cannot forget her. Perhaps it was her genuine self, her beautiful soul that could connect with people of all ages instantly.

One of the main motives behind this blog was keeping her alive in memory of people who had known and loved her. Fate had taken her but I was not going to let memories die out just like that. They were mine to keep and they were eternal. I do not know if I have succeeded in this endeavor but I have certainly tried. This is my 192nd entry on this blog.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to endure is the loss of shared history. When you lose your partner and the person with whom you had thought you would grow old, with them also go the memories that were created together. I’ve been alone in my memories, no one to jog or challenge them.

No one to turn to and say “you remember the time…”. It doesn’t take anniversaries and birthdays to realize this for it happens every single day. When all you are left is only memories you also become paranoid about losing them – what if I forget all the vivid details, the moments of fun and laughter, the fights and arguments about mostly petty things, our strange and heady combination of completely different personalities – me the loner, she the ever outgoing and gregarious one, me the lazy one, she the hyper energetic, me who reads crazy math and science books, she who reads everything from Harry potter to Agatha Christie to the  Mills and Boon series!

Our son was barely six when we lost her. He is almost eleven now and already memories of his mother are fleeting for him. I know a day will come when despite my best efforts he will not have any real memory of her to hold on to. I fear that day for I know I will have to go through it all over again. I wanted him to have something tangible, something to console him and allow him to know the person who loved him the most.

They say that those you love live on through you and I certainly believe that. Her wonderful and beautiful sprit is very much alive and eternal. I do not believe that God exists and neither do I believe that there’s nothing out there. I just know that I do not know why things happen the way they do.

I believe she is very much with me today though I can no longer see or talk to her. I wouldn’t have made it this far if she wasn’t with me on this journey.

 

 

Floating Memories

“Real grief is not healed by time…If time does anything, it deepens our grief.
The longer we live, the more fully we become aware of who she was for us, and the more intimately we experience what her love meant for us. Real, deep love is, as you know, very unobtrusive, seemingly easy and obvious, and so obvious that we take it for granted.
Therefore, it is often only in retrospect – or better, in memory, that we fully realize its power and depth. Yes, indeed, love often makes itself visible in pain.”
– Henri Nouwen

Its been a long time since I last wrote here . I have so many memories of my wife that I want to write here but mostly they stay within me floating about. They add warmth in times of loneliness and overwhelming grief. Though I do not write entries here as often as I used to, I have always thought of keeping this blog alive. Its something I created in her honor and I intend to keep it that way.

As the years roll by, sometimes it gets harder to believe all the time that has passed since then. I sadly reminisce the anniversaries, birthdays and so many other life events that come and go by each year. She should have been here living the life that she created but she is not and absolutely nothing can console me on that.

Its not only the major life events but its her absence in my daily life is what hits me the most. They say that when you have been so close to a person, you die when the person dies and yet they never truly leave you. I believe both the things are true. I’m no longer the same person that I was before. Years of fighting grief and loneliness have left their scars on my soul.

Every year I watch the tennis grand slams and remember that she loved watching the Wimbledon or the US open. Back in 2005 when we were living in Cincinnati , the city was host to the annual ATP masters tournament. She was thrilled to find out that she could volunteer at these events and get to see the players up close.

We had an incredible time that year and next watching Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams and other top stars play live. She had a job managing the tickets and other errands inside the players enclosure and absolutely loved the opportunity. For years she would fondly remember and recount the stories – the classy Federer, Serena Williams throwing a tantrum because her match wasn’t scheduled in prime time and many more.

Every year she would religiously follow the slams and read about the players. Its hard for me to watch tennis without all these memories floating about in my head. I still have her volunteer badge from the tournament which I have kept as a precious keepsake.

She followed other sports too including league football and knew most players names and who played for which club. She loved late night TV and all the US shows – Jeopardy, two and a half men and many more. Comedy central and the food channel were her favorites.

When we came back to India, we didn’t get all these shows here but few of them would air on Star world. These days with the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime you get access to practically everything. She would have loved this limitless content. We had very different tastes though. I watch very less TV other than sports. Its only recently that I have started watching “The Crown” and “House of Cards” on Netflix.

Our life story remained incomplete. I can only imagine how life would have been with her around. All around me life flows unabated. My son is now close to eleven and like all kids of his age, his world is full of sports and star wars. He has taken after his mother in personality – he is gregarious and high energy.

As I grow older, I find that often our lovely days together seem like looking into the rear view mirror. I find that they keep reappearing and then speed by. I want to reach out and touch these moments, feel them again but I can’t. They seem destined to stay in my background forever.

As time passes, I am beginning to understand what the word “healing” means. Only those who have gone through such gut wrenching loss get it. Its not at all what it sound like. There’s no ending or closure. I guess its the gradual acceptance of the fact that pain is a constant and life can continue with it.

For a long time this blog was the only way I could channel my pain and I find that it continues to provide me solace. These days I write less and read a lot more. I have been meaning to change that lately.

I’m a loner and spend a lot of time on my own. I have gone back to my youthful interests of delving in mathematics and the sciences. I teach high schoolers on weekends and these small gigs keep me positively occupied. And yet on days that I find loneliness and grief creeping back, I turn to this old friend – my blog.

And yet, many days I just open my Mac and can’t write anything. When life gets too monotonous, I sometimes take a Fri off from work and go to a nearby bookstore, grab a coffee and my kindle and I read or just sit there and think. Some days I take my laptop along hoping to write.

I am married again and have a great family life. In one sense everything has come back to normal and in another sense everything is a new normal. I like to think I’m a devoted dad and many times an annoying partner due to my moodiness and quirks. I have 2 grown up boys now – one a pre teen and another a teen.

From the last one year I’ve made yoga a daily part of my morning ritual. I find that it has been a life saver. I have quit facebook and am more active reading and contributing answers to Quora.

At 43 my hair is greying more than ever and my sense or rather lack of fashion is as strong as ever, she used to call me “fashionably challenged”. I find that I have trouble relating to the teenage generation, I don’t seem to follow all the crazy abbreviations and memes which pass off as language. I guess I’m just old school and getting old!

I longingly think what she would have made of me today. I guess she would have just laughed it off and let me be the person I’m.