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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 years later

“Perhaps grief is not about empty, but full. The full breath of life that includes death. The completeness, the cycles, the depth, the richness, the process, the continuity and the treasure of the moment that is gone the second you are aware of it. Alysia Reine”

When I started out on this life long journey of grief, I wasn’t aware of where this path would take me. In the early months and years I could not really believe I could withstand this intensity of the pain. I could not understand how everything could be taken away from me in an instant.

Before my wife was diagnosed with cancer, we had a blissful life for many years. From the moment we got married in 2002, our life had been full of excitement and adventures. We had bought our first home together, travelled to exotic locations, lived abroad for many years and were so fortunate and privileged to be parents to our little boy who was born in 2007.

In the years prior to that fateful day when we got the fatal diagnosis, we led a busy but very happy and prosperous life. I was busy at work and she was busy at home being a full-time mom to a bright and mischievous child. We celebrated festivals, birthdays and anniversaries with great gusto which was so characteristic of her positive and outgoing personality.

Life seemed to be moving ahead in full steam. Every year we would go on 3-4 vacations. It was her favorite activity to research new places and plan family trips. Looking back it seems those years flew by in a blur. Of course I had never anticipated our life together being interrupted permanently.

I had thought this was how life would continue, in fact it would get even better as we looked forward to the next stage of life. We had so many things lined up – vacation trips, moving to our new house, making annual trips to our parents place and the thing she looked forward to the most – enjoying every minute of our little boy’s childhood.

She was extremely fit and led a very active lifestyle. In all our years together I never ever saw her brooding or worrying about something. If something bothered her, she would just take it head on. We all counted on her for everything from small to big, being well networked and informed she was a natural decision maker.

Disease,treatments and hospitals were alien concepts to me. Those were things I read in the papers and generally avoided. Both of us had never been admitted to a hospital. She understood the importance of good health and frequently spoke about it and it was evident in the discipline and zeal she had about fitness.

And then out of nowhere Cancer entered our lives. It wasn’t just any other easily treatable variant but Cancer in its most lethal form – Leukemia. Even after the diagnosis and the subsequent treatments, I didn’t realize how potent it was though I consider myself to be of a scientific temperament and read everything I could get my hands on about the disease. I read other people’s accounts of fighting this dreaded disease, I read in depth about treatment options and even medical research papers and studies that were publicly available.

I guess my vision was blurred because of the fact that I thought she could defeat anything. I had more faith in her than in anything else.Those seven months of gruesome treatments turned our life upside down. I found myself managing home, work, my child and the relentless  hospital admissions and treatments.

Of course this was nothing compared to what she had to endure, rounds after rounds of brutal chemotherapy treatments took her to the edge but every time  she would rally and come back and recover. Only a person with an extraordinary willpower could have endured what she did.

Not even once she would complain. In fact on the good days when she was feeling better, she was very much her usual self, checking on everything, watching  her favorite  master chef on TV and even enjoying the hospital food. We would often talk about all the things we would do once she was better.

In between treatments we found time to go on what would become our last vacation together. And then just as things were looking up and we thought the worst was over that our world folded on itself. The cancer had returned after a brief remission. Once more we rallied.

When Leukemia returns, its ferocious and the only option is a very strong dose of chemotherapy. This proved to be fatal as her body had been weakened by continuous rounds of treatments. The risks were grave but there was no other option.

Her last words to me were “I’ll be fine” and I told her not to worry about our son. At the time I had no idea that this would be our last words to each other but that’s how it turned out.

Plunged into widowhood at 39 with a young child to look after, my world collapsed around me. I had counted on her for everything from running the household to taking major life decisions. Suddenly I found myself to be the sole decision maker. I cringed with disbelief when I had to sign forms and mention that I was a single parent.

But life didn’t stop, the world moved on as if nothing had happened. There were bills to be paid and other pressing responsibilities both at home and at work. I don’t know how I dragged myself to work each day but I knew I had to keep my head down and keep moving forward. I had made her a promise and I would honor it in every way possible.

Most of the people around me didn’t get what I was going through. People whom I had considered close friends parted ways for inexplicable reasons. There were few who stayed and I’m extremely grateful for them.

I met several other people on this journey through my blog. Their thoughtful comments and their own experiences provided much needed peace to my shattered soul. I read extensively about grief, spirituality,  afterlife and many such things I had not bothered to think about earlier.

Today I’m married again and have a great family. Life is good once more and I have come a long way since those early days. I used to read that grief changes and I can understand what it means now. It never goes away and there are always days and moments when it rears its head out of nowhere and in most unexpected places.

I’m still bitter and angry about what happened and how unfair it was. I don’t know if I will be ever able to make peace with it. I have moved forward not ‘moved on’ because no such thing exists.

Our son just turned ten and he’s a bright and happy child. I talk to him often about his mother telling him funny stories and all the things that she used to do for him. He has a new mom in his life who also loves him a lot and he begins each morning with giving her a big hug. He also has a big brother now and though initially it was hard for both of them, they have bonded and are now just like any other siblings. They share a room, fight, play video games together and are protective about each other though being boys they would never like to admit it.

Life turned out to be very different from what I had imagined. Just a few years ago, I would never have imagined undergoing so many life changing events in such a short time. I have changed in ways that sometimes I also cannot understand completely. Life meanwhile has continued to move on regardless.

Yesterday marked four years since I lost my wife. The loss was multifold as I also lost my best friend and the person who knew me inside out. We were together for 12 years and though I should be grateful I got those with her, I also feel a deep sorrow that she was taken so early and left behind so many unfulfilled dreams.

I don’t look for answers because nothing can justify her absence. Her extraordinary spirit is very much alive and with me always through life’s ups and downs and I carry her in my heart wherever I go.

Yesterday when I woke up and looked outside I saw cherry blossoms  blooming on a tree nearby. They were her favorite flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A life full of colors

“Red: [narrating] Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”

Today is the festival of Holi in India. It’s a festival celebrated with colors, with joy and with abandon. It was my late wife’s favorite festival. After four years, I still hate to put the word ‘late’ or departed before her name. She was anything but late, full of energy and perpetually busy.

This festival gelled so much with her personality, her presence was electric. She didn’t have to do anything to create this impact but it was just the aura that she had. If she was around, you would feel it instantly. She was a natural leader, taking charge of things and bringing everyone together.

So much of life has passed by in the intervening years but I feel her void everyday. Its like living with a huge void that is impossible to fill. Memories come and go and lately I have started a personal project to write about them. I’m fearful that in time, they would start slipping from my grasp and they are all I’m left with.

When I started this blog, I wanted to immortalize her through my writings. But now I don’t write here that often. I write much more privately in my journals and on the memory project that I’m working on slowly but diligently.

When you lose someone so dear, its hard to explain in words what you feel on such occasions. The vocabulary that you need to express what you feel doesn’t exist in the form of letters and words. You feel the pain always – sometimes its in the background and sometimes it all just comes back.

March is a difficult month for me. I lost her in March and also its my birthday month. But March in India also has the festival of Holi and I believe its only fitting. If anything else, I want her to be remembered for things that really set her apart – her indomitable spirit and her incredible zest for life.

She would have probably admonished me for feeling sad and down. It was just not the way she looked at life irrespective of the circumstances. When I see pictures of people celebrating I often feel that familiar lump in my throat because she was supposed to be here but isn’t.

She was only 37 and left behind so many unfulfilled dreams. She wanted to travel and do so many things, the little home projects that we had planned, the 40th birthday celebrations that never came for both her and me, our son’s childhood that she had lived for and so many things.

Cancer took a lot away, it took away the central figure around which our lives revolved. Over the years, I have become so much more responsible and different from what I was. The innocence and a sense of invincibility has been replaced with indifference to life at times. I have felt the weight of the world.

But I have carried on regardless. There have been good days too. I have come a long way in these years. Today I’m able to participate in life again, I have been able to rekindle my old interests and hobbies. I have a new family and its because of them that I have been able to go forward in life.

Grievers suffer in silence. They are expected to be strong and carry on as if nothing has happened. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms. Mine is to write, to take long solitary walks or just observe nature.

Few days ago at night I just happened to look up and saw it was a clear night and the stars and the moon glittered, its something that never fails to move me. I thought to myself ” I don’t even know where you are”. It’s a thought I struggle with a lot. I wish I had some answers.

But on the other good days, I see her in the colors around me, in the chirping of birds in the morning, in the beautiful formations they make when they fly home in the evenings, in the joy I see in children playing outside, in the festivals and all the good things in life. I know she loved life and specially festivals and celebrations.

I feel I should live for both of us but often I fail because I’m just not wired the same way she was. She lived every moment of her short but incredible life.She took in the experiences and her grit and her courage is something I can only get inspired with but never possess.

I’m an ordinary mortal and I try as best as I can. I wish everyone peace and courage in their journeys. I read stories of others like me, I silently empathize with them because I know what it feels like. We are all alone but our life stories connect us in miraculous ways.

 

 

 

Long after.. 

Long after the music died,

Long after the people dispersed, 

Long after all the obligations were over, 

There was darkness and in that darkness the warmth of memories, 

Of lovely and unforgettable days spent together, 

Of exotic adventures and travels far and wide, 

Of laughter and happiness that seemed infinite at the time, 

Of gentle days and fun filled nights, 

Now all gone, just memories that come back to  soothe  a broken heart, 

Such have been my travels in this life, 

Endless love and now endless pain in equal measure.. 

Alive in my heart.. 

25th September is my late wife’s birthday. It’s been over three years since we lost her. She was only 37 with a full life ahead of her. We never got to grow old together like I had always dreamed of.

I don’t write here often as I did in those darkest days of my life. But I continue to write mainly to keep her memory alive. Our son was only six when he lost his beloved mother but I hope when he grows up he will know through these writings of mine about how incredible his mother was and how dearly she loved him. 

She loved to celebrate her birthday and would remind us from weeks in advance. When I think of her I always remember this extraordinary person full of life, always smiling and always giving. She could never say no to people and would go out of her way to help. 

One meeting with her is all it took to form an association that was life long. She had that effect on people. I hardly remember a time when she was down. Her love for life was extraordinary. 

She loved to travel and see new places and it’s because of her that we traveled to some incredible places. We had a tradition of getting a fridge magnet as a souvenir whenever we visited a new place. Today my refrigerator is almost all covered with memories. 

I have continued this tradition after her passing to honor her memory. I often feel she came into my life as a ray of sunshine. I just didn’t know I would lose her so soon. I could have never imagined a life without her. 

But I have gone on despite losing her. She fought with extraordinary courage against a deadly disease to be with us and this is the least I can do for  her. 

Today I’m fortunate to have a family again and my son seems to be happy and thriving. I often remember her words when she was battling cancer in the hospital. She would ask me to go and be with our son – “I’ll be fine, he needs one of us”. And true to her wishes I have stayed behind. 

I wish I could tell everyone that it gets easier with time but I would be lying. It actually gets tougher but we learn to live with the constant pain. It becomes a part of who you are. 

I take solace in the memories of the beautiful years we spent together. That is something even death couldn’t take away from me. I was just very very fortunate to have her in my life. 

There are so many little things that I remember fondly, her love for food and peppy music. She was perpetually busy as if deep down she knew that she had limited time here and needed to experience all that she could. 

She never gave much thought to material things. The thing that made her the happiest was just being together, the three of us sitting together and playing games or going on holidays together. 

I guess my introvertness exasperated her at times but as with every thing else she took it in her stride. We were a team and I’m so proud of everything we accomplished together. 

Today there are no celebrations on her birthday. There is no music,cake and dancing that she enjoyed so much. There are also no gifts and cards I can give her. I just go about my day as best as I can trying to keep it together at work. 

I walk and my steps are heavy, my eyes tear often but then I stop,  have a piece of her favourite chocolate cake in her honour and through the lump in my throat I wish her happy birthday.

“Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion

Lost to the world 

It’s been a long time since I last wrote here. Life has been good and after everything we’ve been through I certainly know what small things in life can mean. I’ve been thinking about the changing nature of grief,of how it keeps unfolding in new ways as the years roll by. In my own case,I’m onto year four and the pain shrouds itself in myriad ways.

I read somewhere that when someone you love dearly dies,they die in a million places.They are gone not only from the present but from all the life that is yet to come. Mother and Father’s Day are behind us this year and on both these occasions I’ve felt the icy grip of deep sadness. I grieve all the moments we were supposed to have together but couldn’t.

The other thing that really hurts as time passes is that your loved one is not talked about,at least not to me. I would love to hear about my late wife from friends or family once in a while but I find that enveloped in a cold silence the world moves on. To the person who is left behind nothing can be more comforting than talking about their loved one,hearing their name again.

I guess many times people don’t want to bring it up as they find it upsetting or they think they are reminding the griever. But the truths is that we never forgot so there’s no reminding. Sometimes I talk to my son about his mother and try to keep her memory alive. Recently I was pleasantly surprised to find him watching a Harry Potter movie. I told him how much his mother loved the series. She would have been thrilled had she been around.

It’s small inconsequential moments like these when her absence really hurts.She should have been around watching her child grow up, teaching him new things,attending his school functions,fretting over lunches and homework but she got to experience none of it. I remember how much she was looking forward to him being in grade one so that the longer school hours would give her some much needed time to herself.

But life turned out differently.By the time grade one came along,she was gone and I had taken on the role of being both Mom and dad. The year she was diagnosed with cancer,she had at least four trips planned none of which happened. In her honour I made two of those alone as a single parent with my son.

The city and the community I live has already changed so much. There are new shops and facilities that open up but she isn’t around to experience any of it. It’s almost like she’s been left behind frozen in time while the world has moved on. I guess now I understand what it means to die in a million places.

Four years ago around this time I was living my last months of normal pre cancer life with her. I didn’t know it then but I was just months away from my world coming crashing down upon me. But at that time I could see nothing coming ,a long life stretched out in front. But it turned out so differently.

It’s not that I’m not grateful. I’ve come a long way since then. Today I’ve a loving family again and quite honestly I never thought I could experience happiness of any sort again but I do. I’ve regained many things that I thought were lost forever. But I’m no longer the same person that I was. I’ve learned to live with a perpetual void.

I like taking solitary walks. Some days during mornings or at dusk, I just stop to hear the chirping of birds in the distance,I look at the amazing colours in the sky and I pause. In that moment I experience a deep sense of loss and peace at the same time.

Another year of absence 

Yesterday another year went by in my journey of afterloss.The date holds some very painful memories which I have written about in the hope that in time I will be relieved of them. 

Today is holi – a festival of colors in India. It was also my late wife’s favorite festival. I guess it had a fair sprinkling of all the things that she greatly cherished – colors, music, food, dancing,  the company of friends and celebration. 

She is deeply missed by all and the void she left behind in the lives of everyone that she touched is irreparable. Sometimes I wonder what she would want me to do with my life but then again I can only guess. 

Grief and loss is extremely unique and extremely personal. I find that I am always alone in my memories. The person with whom I created these is long gone. I can’t turn around and say “do you remember the time..”. 

From time to time as the mood strikes me, I try to come here and write about her in the hope that this way I can honor her life and the extraordinary person that she was. 

In all honesty, even after three years sometimes it’s difficult to believe everything that happened. It’s true that with time the nature of grief changes. The pain I feel today is very different from what I felt in the initial days and months. 

It has settled in my bones and become a part of who I am today. In my long journey, I do come to places of peace and rest from time to time. Today I’m married again and have a wonderful family. I find that I look for peace and contentment in seeing them happy and moving forward. 

Yet there are days when the happy memories of my past make me melancholy. Some days they do make me smile but I always remember “how strange, how sad, the days that are no more”. 

In the past year, we settled down as a new family in a new home. We went on holidays and life has been good despite the challenges. I’m proud of the things that we  have accomplished together. A few years ago all this did not look possible. It’s only in retrospect that we realize how far we have come. 

My journey continues on this plane.I remember the last few months when we fought cancer. She was the bravest soul I have met and shrouded in her strength I had also clinged on to hope that life could go back to what it was. All through her treatment she never ever complained but soldiered on with a steely determination so typical of her. 

I remember that the last program that she watched on TV was master chef. I guess it just typified the incredible attitude that she possessed of living life to the full regardless of the circumstances. I don’t possess that but I always derive strength and courage to go on from her example. 

Evolving grief


I don’t write too often these days. As time passes I have noticed that the urge to share and write about my experiences have diminished. The feelings however have not certainly. Grief is a life long journey,it’s not something that just goes away with time. It’s hard to exactly translate how loss uncovers itself as days,months and years go by.Many days it stays in the background and then on others days it leaps back with a ferocity that is totally unexpected.

I’m nearing three years since my life changed for ever. Life has continued to change in myriad ways since then. Today I have a brand new life and a family whom I love very much . I’ve continued to move forward with my life while trying to integrate my loss . Sometimes I feel I’m successful and making progress and on other days I feel I’m failing. Either way life goes on regardless.

Recently we celebrated my younger sons ninth birthday.It was his third without his beloved mother. I remember the last birthday we celebrated together.She had just been back from a very high dose chemotherapy treatment and yet she made it a point to celebrate her little boy’s birthday as if nothing had happened.I felt too stressed to celebrate that day and it was certainly difficult to feel happy with all the uncertainties that cancer can bring into your life.

But she was different,her spirit remained untouched by the disease.I remember her laughing,clapping and throughly enjoying her little boys birthday.In the years when all was well,she would plan for months – deciding the venue,shopping for outfits and exploring new cake receipes. I guess this was the highpoint of the year for her. On the birthday she would always take a picture on the exact time of his birth.

The first birthday that we celebrated without her,I tried my best to do everything as she would have liked. It had only been a few months since her passing but I felt I couldn’t let her down.So we celebrated as we had always but without her it felt soulless. However to see our son happy and enjoying with his friends made it all worth it.

The duality of grief can be very difficult to handle. A perfectly happy occasion sometimes has grey hues underlining it. It’s a new normal that I have learnt to accept. I feel the pain everyday at realising she is missing out on his growing years and so much else.So many milestones and occasions and she’s not around to experience it.

I guess this is the greatest challenge for people who have undergone deep loss – integrating the loss into life that goes on and living with that bottomless void each day. I hear a lot of ‘everyone’s life is difficult ‘ and that is true but other life challenges don’t even measure up to the endurance that is required to go on in the face of loss of the most important person in your life.

The thoughts that she’s already missed out on so much is unnerving to me. I don’t know how it will feel to have the years go by. I look at pictures of people who celebrate their anniversaries every year, I marvel at the years they have accumulated together. And I’m constantly reminded of what I have lost. I got twelve years and they will stay with me forever. I just didn’t think it will be over so soon when we were looking forward to life so much.

And yet,life goes on..