I had originally created this bog with the intention of chronicling our experiences with dealing with this life changing disease. Hence the “leap of faith” in the web address. However,I never found the courage to write anything during the treatment process somehow having the unexplained fear psychosis that writing about it will alter the outcome.
Now that the unthinkable has actually happened and though I’m still having constant illusions that this hasn’t happened,that this is a nightmare I will wake up anytime from, I have decided to write down something as my personal tribute to a person who was and will remain the center of my universe and I know for many other friends and family whose lives were wondrously touched by her.My intent is not without some selfish end as this might provide some catharsis for the myriad emotions I have experienced in the short time since her passing.
My emotions are still very raw and I have lot of trouble mentioning her in the past or when someone tells me she is no more. I could not bear the sight of her picture garlanded and probably never will. Slightest trigger brings back an avalanche of memories and emotions which are hard to suppress. I have had people tell me time heals though I don’t really understand fully. I have had advice to start living again as she would have liked me to. I believe it will take me years and I probably wont ever reconcile to losing her.I know for a fact that my life will never be same without her,how can a body function without the heart?
I will probably get on with life without her and fulfill the dreams that she had for Nishu but the dreams and aspirations I had from life are all gone with her.We had dreamt the future together,we had goals and aspirations.What good are those now?
Ours was an arranged marriage,we met for the first time in 2001 with our parents. It was typical of the mockery that happens in arranged marriages, parents decide and ‘allow’ the would be couple to meet. How do you judge a person in a short meeting is beyond me but I had made it clear to my parents that I will not be part of the charade of this meet and greet sessions with probable alliances. Whenever they felt they had decided I would go and meet, it had to be a one time thing.
So that’s how we met and I don’t know what it was but there was something magnetic about her presence, a fact that many people would keep telling me later.I believe it was just her genuine enthusiasm for life and a personal warmth that was contagious. This is what I thought till she told me later that I was actually under the lens and she was watching my ‘accent’ amongst other things. I guess I managed not to goof up and the alliance was formalized.This was in Aug 2001 and the marriage was fixed in Feb 2002 so we did go through a small ‘courtship’ period.It took me a while to call her, I hadn’t even asked for her email – a fact that I got constant grief for years. I always had trouble connecting with people though once I got close I usually made friends for life. I was and am still not a people person though my years with her have changed me for the better.How can you not change when you live with such an outgoing,affectionate and a person full of life.
I remember I spent a lot of time thinking of an opportune moment to call. I tried to think about things to say-drew a blank and again put it on hold till her Birthday came along in Sep.I did want to call but I was such a disaster at such things,I was worried about making a fool of myself. However I had to bite the bullet and make the call.I have no idea of what I said but my relief was apparent when she picked up the phone.Later she said that our marriage was on the hook if I hadn’t called that day.Needless to say it was the most important phone call of my life,such a close shave!
We spoke regularly after this, spent countless hours and bills on the phone. I don’t have much recollection of those conversations now other than the fact that I was mostly listening. She did all the talking. Even then it was hard to miss the zest for life that she had,it was apparent in the way she talked.She loved life.After we got married,we discussed a lot of things and her knowledge and memory of world events and issues quite literally blew me off. I considered myself well read but I cared only about subjects I was close to,I had little idea of most other things but you ask her anything under the sun and she would casually mention reading it somewhere or seeing it on TV. I used to joke that I didn’t want to discuss work with her as chances were that she would know about that too.
We went on countless vacation trips after marriage both in India and US.She was a pro at researching places to visit and planning trips. We were forever planning vacations and getaways.I had to do nothing more than drive to the destination or provide credit cards. I had to just show up,everything else was taken care of.Once at the resort she would check out the menu.Being in love with food was another of her passions.She loved to try new restaurants. I was never a foodie,in fact till our marriage I hardly remembered what I was eating.Being with her I also started relishing food, her enthusiasm was so contagious.
The years we spent together in the US were the best years of our life. Again,I had the master planner with me,apartment hunting,finding out places to shop,eat,tourist destinations around were all a breeze. We would initially stay at a hotel and by the time I would come back in the evenings she had a list of apartments to visit ready.She had already done the research, called up the apartment people and fixed up appointments.In time I got so used to it that I left all these things with her, it was really her domain. She quickly became the goto person for all other newbies.When we were expecting, she was the one who decided hospitals,gynos and even pre birth classes. Once again, I just accompanied her to the appointments and paid the bills.
We went to Disneyland,Grand Canyon,New York,Toronto and numerous other destinations. In many of these, it was just the two of us and the highway stretching out front.We talked and talked all the way,I never needed company with her around.In one of the early road trips post marriage,we went to Florida with some of my colleagues. I was the only married guy in the group. Many years later whenever I ran into any of these folks, they first inquired how was Nilu doing then they asked about me. As usual she had created a positive impact in a short time something that was very characteristic of her warm and affectionate nature.
I guess she was just extremely smart. I was and still am terrible with directions and in those days we didn’t have GPS or cell phones. So she would navigate and I would blindly follow. She was extremely good at remembering routes,maps,landmarks-she had it all mapped out in no time.Years later when I bought a GPS unit,I joked to her that now I can finally go out without her and not manage to get lost.
We came back to india in 2010 and again so typical of her nature she took charge in researching and deciding schools,finding out all the details that are needed for a family to lead a typical daily life.She was an outgoing person with a magnetic personality. People and specially kids would hang on to her.In no time,she had formed a huge social circle. Our home phone would ring every ten minutes with someone or the other calling. After a while, I got tired of picking these calls when she wasn’t around. I ended up getting a verbal volly but did not mend my ways.She was terrific with kids,planning out movies,lunches,arcade games with Nishu and his friends.
She was involved in every aspect of Nishu’s life right from his school,classes,summer camps,toys,games everything. I ran a busy schedule and hardly had time during week days and by the time the weekends came,I was down and out. I was also lazy and more of a stay at home person.But she had the weekends plans all laid out,where we had to go,where we were shopping,eating everything was expertly planned.In time, I had changed so much that I used to ask mid week about what we were doing on the weekend.
There are numerous things I have learnt from her. Politeness and affection for people regardless of age or background.She made sure Nishu would say please and thank you.She was very particular about it. Of course if she had to fire someone then also she had no match.Usually she had a good reason to and it mostly worked too.
I guess we were like two distinct but completely last pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.She the outgoing,smart,life of a party and me the recluse,lazy,laid back.We did have our fair share of squabbles like any normal couple but I mostly gave in most times.Mostly it was me at fault and like any self respecting husband I had trouble owning up.We spent countless weekend nights ordering in,enjoying food and drinks over a movie.She was a big fan of romcoms many of which I had trouble staying awake till the end.Though in real life I guess I was the one with messages and gifts.She hated things like valentines day and stuff saying they were hollow and commercial.I had to agree.She would watch the food channel all the time till it drove me crazy sometimes.I used to say “we are watching food channel 9am on a weekend morning!!”.Even during the long hospital stays,she would watch that all the time.I guess the passion for food and everything related went with her gregarious personality.
She lived each day to the full and packed with activities centered around the family.She made sure she called up and wished everyone on birthdays,anniversaries and other special occasions.This was another of her many endearing traits,whether it was her friends,family and even my friends she would remember and call up people on their special days.She knew what gifts to give to whom,what did people like including Nishu’s friends.I can confidently say that she was the best mother,wife,friend..she made every relationship count.In all these years,I have never seen her being critical of someone or making fun of anybody.She had mostly good things to say about everyone.Only a person with a heart of gold is capable of such compassion.
She was an avid traveller and was forever making plans to visit places. She had this fear of flying and would be a mess every time during takeoff and landing.She would close her eyes,hold my hand and squeeze it till it hurt.I found it very amusing and would have to keep a straight face to evade getting an earful.She also had a fear of heights but during one vacation trip she did the zipline adventure and quite enjoyed it.Life was always inviting and time too short for her. In retrospect, I realize she was in a hurry trying to live every moment,take in every experience and make as many friends as she could.
Death was a topic I never broached with her despite the fatality of the disease. Again its a testimony to her powerful will and ever positive nature.She feared it as most people do but I guess the fear was more from a genuine zest and love for life. Only people who live life so fully can fear death. Throughout this terrible ordeal,she never exhibited any fear at any point. Once the initial shock of diagnosis was dealt with,she gritted her teeth and went about fighting the battle in the only manner that she knew. It was the same approach with which she had lived her life-positivity,laughter and an iron will.We went through times so difficult that its enough to bring most people to their knees in no time. But not her, she was cut from a different cloth,there were times I wanted to give up-frustration and desperation peaking but she never gave up even once and I would mostly come back up ashamed at my brittle spirit. During the long and tedious months of hospitalization, there were many friends and colleagues who came up to me asking how I was managing to keep my sanity intact.The reason was her all the time,I wouldn’t have half the guts if she had shown any weakness but she never did wilt ever.
Every time she felt better she would resume life with the same zest- calling up friends and family,playing with Nishu, planning the next vacation,updating her on all the gossip she had missed due to her sickness.During such days it really felt we had beaten the disease, as if our old days had come back.During the recovery phase from each chemotherapy round, she would make a list of all the delicacies that she was going to enjoy once her appetite returned.
I have never placed much stock in religion,faith and God. From my early days,I had lot of questions to be answered and most people told me that you cannot question God’s will. It sounded like baloney to me. In my mind,God needed to be more accountable-there were children and good people dying all the time. What was God doing about it? You are telling me this was His will? She had much more faith than I did.She would keep pictures and idols with her when she was traveling and later in the hospital room. For a time,I also became a believer for her sake, I prayed for our family and for her.In the end God(not that I believe in such a concept) cheated her.People say its His will and it brings me back to the questions I have had in my mind since childhood. First we pray fervently and if God fails to deliver we say its His will. Its a nice place to be in.
Since her passing,I’ve received well intended advice to get back to life,time would heal and such. In reality, I know my life can never go back to what it was with her. How can it when the body has to live without a soul? I have a treasure load of memories that will make life without her extremely difficult to endure.I’m lost in the ocean of life,I no longer have my navigator with me.We never contemplated or discussed such a scenario but then again who does at 37? Maybe with time it gets better as they say but I really don’t believe in the time heals concept. Her absence is like an open wound, the pain will never really subside.I’m glad I told her “I won’t be ever able to live without you” many many times even before this disease entered our lives.She always agreed with the thought. I guess she had an inkling how difficult it would be for me.Only thing, I was really not counting on actually to be facing the prospect. But I have had no choice in the matter.
We spent 12 wonderfully happy years together. It was too short a time,We had dreams of growing old together and traveling the world,we had projects to complete,so many dreams for Nishu. But like a cruel savage storm,everything was reduced to a pile of dust.But then again,how many people get a chance to live with an extraordinary life partner and experience true love. I was blessed to have her in my life..She came like a breath of fresh air and sunshine in my life.Our life in retrospect feels much like a dream and I guess much of it really was.
As long as I live, she will be a big part of who I am. I owe everything to her.I don’t think I will be ever able to reconcile to the fact that I’m not going to see her again.Living without her is a curse I have to deal with. I know life will and does go on but for me there’s a before and there’s an after-the two as different as heaven and hell. Her beautiful face,laughter,radiant personality and her presence about me is something not even death can take away.
” I keep myself busy with things to do but every time I pause I think of you”.
She will be with me in this life and beyond.