Still in a daze

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The fog I’m in hasn’t started to lift yet. To move forward I need to carry the past with me. But it clings to me asking me to stay awhile, there will be a time to move forward but perhaps not now. Not yet. I feel really isolated with the world.

There are several days I don’t feel like reading the news or even watching TV though I have the time but none of it makes sense in the current circumstances. At work, I’m able to get by sometimes by choice and at other times by will. The sameness of my days strikes me. It’s as if I can’t separate any given day from another.

In fact I would be hard pressed to remember any of the days recently gone by. I simply have no memory of many of these. What is there to remember anyway for they have been an exercise in extreme dullness. I have done things that needed to be done and left it at that. Beyond it there has been simply no drive, no enthusiasm or no looking forward to anything.

The only positive has been the fact that it tires me no ends and I realize this is not the way I would want to live for long. I think about my son’s future more than my own. If there is still a worthwhile reason to live and work, I only need to look at him. It’s for him that I’m trying to make an effort to keep moving.

Grief oscillates, sometimes easing it’s wily grip and at other times just overpowering me. Sometimes when I’m able to relax a bit and start thinking about normal things, it pierces me again. It never stops short of reminding me where I have come to in my life.

I have no indications from her on how I should live my life. We never discussed a life that was going to be spent alone. During the months of treatments and fighting the disease it was always about staying strong and keep moving forward. There was never a time when we talked about giving up and discussing alternatives.

The times I went through in the aftermath, I would have never thought possible. Everything felt and still feels surreal. I realize this magnitude of loss takes time to settle into any kind of reality. It has several layers that need attention.

I do believe it’s possible to survive this. It’s not a journey where you arrive but rather you stay the course. It changes you as a person and I know how much it has changed me already. The world around me keeps moving at a much different pace. I don’t feel the need to match it’s step. My path is my own and I have to walk at my own pace.

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Searching for a purpose

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There are days like these when grief and loneliness make you feel so low that all you want to do is to stay put. I wish to to be in solitude on the shore listening to the waves crashing against the rocks.

I need to listen to the emptiness within me. The sound of waves – rhythmic and soothing. The waves embrace the rocks and then melt back into sea. But I’m far from a seashore. I wonder if being there could help alleviate my pain. I guess I just want to be far away from familiar surroundings.

Going away somewhere might not help because the problem is I’ll carry myself there and with it will follow my grief. I seem to particularly struggle on weekends as I can’t do any of the things we used to do anymore. How do I fill my time and loneliness is a question that greets me everyday.

As the days and weeks add up gradually, the enormity of the loss dawns on me. From immediate things like parenting and finding things to do over the holidays and weekends to the emotional struggle, it all feels too overwhelming many times. The paradigm shift to a solo life from what was a happy and content family life, hurts a lot.

From doing things together to doing things alone, this is what this journey involves. When she was around, I never had to think about these things. In fact, I never had the time, so engrossed we were in living our life together. There were plans, finances and a million other things to worry about.

Much of those things remain, what is different is there’s no one to share them with. In that sense, shared responsibility has transformed into a list of tasks that need to be done. And outside of that is a gaping hole. After experiencing several low weekends, I have decided that I need to do something concrete.

It may not be my life’s purpose but something that allows me some peace. At this point, I don’t know what that is but I’m going to make an effort to find out. I have such a strong inclination to ask her, she would always have a ‘things you can do’ list ready for me. I have to make that list myself now.

Life’s catastrophic losses force you to question your identity, your purpose. As a couple, your identity and ambitions become intertwined. There is a strong ‘we’ in every decision, every plan you make. As a singleton, much against your choice, life suddenly asks very difficult questions. These questions don’t culminate into anything, rather one question leads to another.

Parenting remains my priority but I also know I need to think outside of it to survive this loss. I know I can never go far from her and neither do I want to. Her presence in my life’s journey will remain always, it’s like the air I breathe. I also know nothing can ever explain this loss or justify it including any amount of karma, spirituality and the ‘fairness’ of a supreme being.

I didn’t ask to be on this path, it was forced upon me against my will. But now I’m on it and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m a reluctant traveler but I intend to carry her in my heart and keep moving to wherever this path takes me.

” Life, by its very nature, abhors isolation. That is why my loss hurt so much. I felt so isolated from the world. There was no comfort left in a world that didn’t lose what I had lost. It pushed me further away from the world around me. And it was there I found the difference between solitude and aloneness.” – Benjamin Allen

We meet again

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Memories hurt but they also sustain. They take you into the past like a time machine, to a place where sometimes time stands still. I close my eyes and the world slowly moves out of view, happy images fill my mind, the laughter and the happiness fill the recesses of my grieving heart.

Memories make my wounds bleed but they also act as a soothing balm. They bring myriad emotions – some happy, some excruciatingly painful but I’m glad they stand with me like a rock sheltering me when grief threatens to pour all over me like a reckless storm.

It’s a Saturday morning and I remember them well. I remember waking up to the sounds of joy – her laughter and my boys little shouts of excitement. I would almost always get up late exhausted as I was from a long week at work. We would leisurely browse the papers, check out the movies lined up on the airwaves and make plans for the weekend. Mostly she had already made the plans, and I was more or less briefed.

We always liked to enjoy the evenings at home, just the three of us. So we would finish our excursions well in time for the evening. Her company was all I needed for a great time. This was the time I would catch up with what was going on in the world and in everyone’s lives. Saturday night meant ordering in and enjoying each others company over a movie, food and drinks. It was the highpoint of my week. I lived for these times.

Today, memories are all I’m left with. They have caused immense heartache, anxiety and made me feel like I’m drowning at times but I realize they have also kept me alive. I remember in my school photographs, the frame had a quote at the bottom “Nothing but memory survives”. I never quite understood what those words really meant up until now.

I like to believe a person is made up of memories. I also like to believe they survive death becoming an eternal part of a consciousness which is infinite and immortal. It’s belief that matters because life and death cannot be understood in the context of what we consider knowledge.

When I miss her, I experience a surge of powerful memories. Sometimes they are so strong that I feel hypnotized, for a few ephemeral moments I can see the present fusing into the past. It’s painful and yet I long for these moments, I need them to survive. I guess such is the dance of grief.

And so I close my eyes and I’m transported to my beautiful past. Time halts to a standstill and for a few priceless moments we meet again and again and again.

“Images flicker, each one bringing its own sorrow or its own smile. Sometimes both. At the very worst, an impenetrable and sightless black and at best, a happiness so bright that it hurts the eyes to see, coming and going on some unseen projector perpetually turned by an invisible hand. One, then another. The hollow click of the shutter. Now stop. Freeze this frame. Pluck it down and hold it close and be damned by what you see. Henri always said: the price of a memory is the memory if the sorrow it brings.”
― Pittacus Lore, I Am Number Four

Missing pieces

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It’s a Friday again, but grief casts long shadows over all my days. There’s no place to run or hide from it. It follows me like a silhouette everywhere I go. I still go about my day as if it was just another day but I can’t step up with the world. It races past as I fall behind. I often feel like a third person witnessing my own life unfold.

I think about how things would be had all this not happened. There’s several long weekends coming up this year but I have no plans. There’s only so much one can do alone. More than that, it’s the fear of running into too many happy people – people whose world is still intact, couples and families having a good time.

Vacations unnerve me and so does staying home. I guess I’ve to choose between lesser of the two devils. When I’m in a place that we used to frequent together, her memory lingers like a fragrance slowly enveloping my senses but then the excruciating sadness takes over. The only thing that seems to work is to go through it again and again till it doesn’t hurt like it used to. At some point the pain seeps into your consciousness, becomes a part of you.

I’m beginning to realize, this is what ‘healing’ is. It is not an absence of the pain but just a higher degree of tolerance. I remember the lightness of the days gone by – her laughter and happiness. Will I ever experience that again, I don’t know. I guess I’m asking if I’ll ever have my life back. I doubt I will, as they say it’s never going to be the same again.

Am I making progress? I get asked this question every now and then. I wake up every day and show up at work, I take care of my responsibilities for the day and that to me is more than enough. But beneath all this, what do I feel? The answer to that is I feel empty, I feel nothingness.

Amongst everything that I miss most about her, if I had that one thing to choose, I would say I miss talking to her the most or rather listening to her talk. Her voice filled my life, it’s not only talking to me but hearing her talk to our Son, on the phone, calling me to show something interesting on TV.. Love is made up of little things and your unconscious mind remembers forever – every strand of memory intact.

I remember the countless long drives in the car, I don’t remember everything we talked about but I know it’s all there somewhere, I haven’t forgotten it. Every now and then a memory seeps through bringing a warmth for a few priceless fleeting seconds. Maybe for those few seconds I’m back in my old life, together again.

I know love and relationships do not end with death for they are timeless. But then I’m human, I’m still here bound by emotional chains of love and longing. They say, to accept the spiritual connection you have to let go of grief and sadness . I only ask, how  do you let go when that’s the only thing you got left with?

I do not live in somebody else’s world. I live in mine. And the fact is I will always miss the ones I love and lost. I miss them.  And I will always miss the pieces of me that are missing. I miss them, too.”
Benjamin Allen

Walking the path

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When you lose someone so loved by family and friends, it creates a void, an immeasurable chasm for everyone. Other than being a mom and a wife, she was also a daughter, a sister and a friend. As with everything else she excelled in these roles, her impact lasting and permanent.

Grief touches us all albeit in different forms. Sometimes my own world gets so dark that I cannot look outside of it. While everyone misses her and grieves, they also have their own worlds to turn to. As for me, she was my world. I have very little left to escape this grief.

Every day that goes by, I feel the impact and it only grows with time. It’s been only four months and yet it feels like eternity, it also feels like yesterday. Time passes in knots, sometimes they need unraveling to keep moving forward. I don’t know where I’m going but I have no choice but to keep moving.

I want to be honest about how I feel because it takes the pressure off to act normal. The world moves on and wants you to move along as well which is cruel because while they can look outward, I can only look within. Being open about my grief allows me to be the way I am. I know well how hard it is for someone to understand this state of mind. You cannot experience it until you have walked this path.

I find adjusting to her absence to be the most difficult thing. For 12 wonderful years, we were together, inseparable. Even I didn’t realize how intertwined our souls had become. She was a necessity in my life much like air or water. Now, I feel I’m getting consumed by the loneliness, the silence.

I still don’t realize what a lifetime means. I ask myself how I’m going to get through  this whole life without her. These are questions no one can answer. It is the very nature of this path, you walk alone in this journey. When we used to take walks, I had to often ask her to slow down for I couldn’t keep up with her. Today I walk at my own pace, I wish someone would ask me slow down.

The hurt and anguish are just too overwhelming sometimes. They permeate  my thoughts and feelings. It makes me yearn for the days gone by. I still can’t believe they are all gone never to come back just like her. Strange is this death which leaves you behind.

” Healing is not about returning to wholeness. In loss, there is no return. Healing, for me, is finding peace living in pieces. Healing is feeling unbridled emotion. Healing is living in untamed sorrow. It is setting free my hurt and following it to healing, piece by piece, till peace finds me in my shattered sorrow and holds me in my pieces.”
Benjamin Allen

Beauty amongst sorrow

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Can grief evoke beauty or is it the other way round? I have realized that when you are lost in the fog of separation, you begin to see things you might have never noticed before. The world seems to slow down bringing things unseen into view.

I find that I can be still and listen to birds chirping or I can experience the melancholy during a sunset. I can see trees gently swaying in the breeze and think about everything that has been and everything that will be. I find unbelievable depth in the books I read, it’s as if I’ve been exposed to a different world where I feel a special kinship with others whose lives have been overturned by loss.

I have more time to myself these days and I read a lot just to not allow my mind to wander too much. I’m currently reading “Out of the ashes” by Benjamin Scott Allen. I must say I have never read anything like this before. My own suffering pales in comparison to the author’s. Every word seems to be measured and has an impact as the real life story unfolds.

I  don’t think my mediocre words can do justice to this book. You have to read it to experience it. I think about all the times I thought I had the worst problems and how insignificant they seem now. You can lose and regain everything in this world – money, career, house. But you can’t replace the person you have loved most and lost. There is a finality to the loss – it’s eternal damnation.

I’m so proud of the way she lived her life – living in the moment, putting others before self, spreading happiness wherever she went, being kind to people, making friends and nurturing relationships. The only people who can do this are the ones with a beautiful soul. It comes from the purity within. It’s what drives and sustains them.

I’m not really looking for any explanation to why this happened. Even if there are answers, they are meaningless to me and hardly any consolation. A precious life lost so young cannot be compensated by any amount of esoteric theories about God or the universe. I do realize that from birth to death we are all travelers but when you are left alone in this journey so early, it’s hard to understand even if there are reasons to why things happen the way they do.

The other day, I read about the MH17 tragedy. Perhaps for the first time I can realize what the families of the lost ones will be going through. For a few days or weeks the news will be splashed all over the media, analysts and experts will have their theories, there will be well intended condolences all over the world and then there will be the eventual silence. The world will go back to what it was before for everyone else but for those who lost their loved ones, this silence will echo forever.

And every time I see or hear something like this unfold, my own loss will also echo. I know how pointless condolences are so I won’t offer any. I only hope that those suffering will find their own paths through this valley of sorrow. The pain will never go away but I hope that someday it will become a part of us and speak to us about our timeless love for the one we lost to the ages.

“Perhaps love is a minor madness. And as with madness, it’s unendurable alone. The one person who can relieve us is of course the sole person we cannot go to: the one we love. So instead we seek out allies, even among strangers and wives, fellow patients who, if they can’t touch the edge of our particular sorrow, have felt something that cuts nearly as deep.”
― Andrew Sean Greer, The Story of a Marriage

Little memories over the weekend

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I’ve had a busy weekend, spent partly working and going out with my little boy. We watched “Planes-fire & rescue” yesterday and both of us enjoyed it. When I see smiles and excitement on my son’s face, it washes away days and weeks of pain and suffering. Needless to say, that’s what sustains me when everything else seems lost.

I remember and miss her everywhere I go. Buying two tickets for a movie instead of three makes me sad. I miss her being in the seat next to me and asking me to get her nachos and a cold coffee at the break. I miss her whoops and laughter when the big scenes came up. I never noticed these things before, I thought I had no memory of them but now it all comes back, clear and haunting.

Before the movies, I went to one of her favorite shopping places and it felt so surreal. It felt I could just cross the next aisle and run into her again, as if she was just round the corner busy in shopping. But it wasn’t so, it was just the two of us. Every time I’m in a place like this, I’m astounded by how much memory it holds. It washes over me like waves – the days gone by.

She loved to buy clothes for both of us specially Nishu. She would buy all the bright colors and marvel at our little boy, trying out the dresses. When it comes to clothes, I’m someone who doesn’t care much, I wouldn’t like to spend more than ten minutes on clothes and that too when pushed. She would call me ‘fashionably challenged’.I wore that tag with much pride.

When she was in the middle of treatments, I got some clothes for Nishu and she liked them so much. I think she was just happy that I made the effort. Yesterday I did some shopping for Nishu in her memory. I realized that I’m the one who’s going to buy his clothes from now. I wonder if she would approve the colors.

This love for clothes and bright colors was very much like the person she was. Every time we were going on vacation it was ‘I need to buy clothes’. I found it so amusing but it’s a woman’s thing, I guess. I think she tried whole heartedly to reform me and get me to like all this stuff. I tried for her sake because it made her happy. She educated me on brands and what nots mostly complaining that I wasn’t listening. But today I treasure the gifts she got me and I wear them with gratitude and her love.

I believe children are more accepting of the situation compared with adults. They live in the moment but it’s very hard to read their little minds and truly understand what they feel. Sometimes I don’t know what my little boy thinks when he sees other moms. I’m sure he misses her but he hasn’t said that explicitly. He has really become close to me,but he does talk about his mom and all the things she used to do. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.

I realize I’m in a very difficult place and it’s not going to get any easier for me. I don’t know what the passage of time will do, I know I will get used to the loneliness and the pain will slowly become a part of me – always there, sometimes subdued and sometimes flared. It’s like the river washing against the rocks, slowly eroding them – a little each day.

“It was sadness, lostness, and the worst thing about it was the way it seemed like a default—like it was there all the time, and all her other expressions were just an array of masks she used to cover it up.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

A century of my feelings

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This happens to be my 100th blog post – a century of my feelings and emotions in the aftermath of losing the love of my life. When I wrote my first piece here, I had no idea what a lifeline this would become. Whenever I have felt desperately alone and down, I have leaned on my writing.

The loneliness I have felt in the aftermath has been soul crushing. Nothing would have prepared me for this – to go from a life full of love and happiness to one faced with an immeasurable loss and grief in the space of a few months. But no matter how much I deny it, it’s the cold reality of my existence.

I truly didn’t believe I would survive without her. But I’ve realized that the human soul is capable of enduring profound sorrow. Giving up was never an option considering how hard she fought for us. I can never forget that in this lifetime. No matter how much my own pain and suffering, it’s nothing compared to what she endured so courageously for us.

To say that she’s my inspiration in every worthwhile thing I do would be an understatement. Even before all of this, I knew she was special and a person extraordinary in many ways. The fight she showed only confirmed what I always knew to be true – she was a person with a beautiful soul and an iron will.

Why people who are so selfless and giving have to endure so much suffering is a question that cannot be answered.  My search for answers has lead me to topics like spirituality and the supernatural. While there seems to be an explanation behind everything that God is good and there is a reason why things happen, I’m not really convinced with what I’ve read so far.

No matter what the spiritual journey involves or the infinite nature of the soul, we are humans with feelings and emotions. We need our loved ones here with us in this life and not the promise of being together in some universe forever. The time on earth is what defines our existence. While I respect the spiritual connection and the quest for it, that doesn’t cut it when I’m missing her like hell.

No matter what the books say, I’m not going to see her again in this life and that’s something that is impossible to accept. There’s no consolation for a loss like that. Not very long back, we were planning a future together full of dreams and aspirations – dreams of traveling  the world, enjoying everything it has to offer, bringing up our son together and ensuring that he has a wonderful life to look forward to.

The dreams are still there but the person who made everything worth it isn’t around. I have her dreams and promises to keep but I know my world has forever changed and it can never go back to what it was. It’s a reality I struggle to accept everyday. But I carry on living in the hope that she knows that this pain I carry in my heart is the everlasting love we have for each other.

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
Robert Fulghum

In retrospect

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The emptiness of my days without her is consuming me. It seems life has been reduced to an endless charade of meaningless tasks. From everything I’ve read about loss and grief, the first year is the year of hell and I’m certainly experiencing it.

There are so many firsts to get through. Initially it was waking up alone, coming home and not having her around, no messages or calls during the day and such simple nuances of daily life that we shared. As the first few months go by, the silence and the absence seems to be settling permanently, almost like creating a space in the void left behind.

In a few months, her birthday will come around followed by Nishu’s birthday. Both are going to be very difficult days for me. It’s not that the days running up to them are any easier. But just to think about those special days without her makes me shudder. And these are only the first of them in a lifetime to follow.

I’m still trying to make sense of this life. Sometimes I feel like taking a break and just doing nothing for a while. But life’s circumstances and responsibilities do not allow that. I would certainly like to slow down and listen to my inner self. I find that in the daily grind of life without her, I’m getting more and more lost.

I miss the fun and humor that was a constant ingredient when she was around. I miss the constant chatter and her infectious enthusiasm for life. We had become so accustomed to each others presence that having to live alone was something I had never even had nightmares about. Life without her simply didn’t exist. And today here I am, stuck in this passage of life alone.

I wonder how it has all come to pass. In retrospect, I had seven months to prepare but we chose those seven months to fight not despair about what was to come. Despite the fatality of the disease, I never saw her as a patient. To me it was just a roadblock we had unfortunately hit. We would keep our heads down and get through it together and for the most part we did.

In short I never had a plan B, the only plan was to beat the disease and recover our precious life together. For seven long months, it was my focus, my mission – to see her get well and get back to the life she loved so much. I obsessed over every bit of medical information that would help me get a semblance of control over the circumstances.

During those months, that is all I thought about. I read every bit of information I could find, I read about nutrition, natural cures and survivors. I filled my mind with so much positivity that it almost dulled the threat of the disease. But you can alter the reality in your mind not outside of it. In real life, you have no control or choice over what is coming. I found it the hard way.

And when the unthinkable happened, I was still in denial, and to an extent I always will be. I couldn’t foresee how one person could have so much of misfortune. I had believed in the fairness of the universe to alter the scales when it came to the crunch. But as I’ve found out since then, life is not a zero sum game. How you think doesn’t always change the reality of what is coming.

I know life goes on but sometimes when you witness so much in such a short time, it does become difficult to find any meaning in life. Perhaps there is and I will discover that some day but right now I’m far away and trying to find the path that will lead me there.

“…you have to learn where your pain is. You have to burrow down and find the wound, and if the burden of it is too terrible to shoulder, you have to shout it out; you have to shout for help… And then finally, the way through grief is grieving.”
― Jane Hamilton

Notes to myself

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I sometimes wonder how I’m living in a time like this but truth is I am. Four months on, my grief is every bit as raw and untamed as it was in the first few weeks. If there is anything, I’ve learned to manage the pain better. I’m still a long way off from peace of any kind and that is something which will take an undetermined amount of time.

It has been a very lonely time, other than colleagues at work, I’m mostly on my own. I’m someone who doesn’t mind being by myself, I spend much of my free time reading, learning and writing. It’s about the only thing that helps me relax a  bit. To say I miss her company would be a gross understatement. Her absence has deeply effected me on several levels – both physical and metaphysical.

Looking back, I realize I haven’t made many friends in our years together. I was emotionally so dependent on her that I never felt the urge to have a social circle of my own. Of course I do have a few close friends but that circle has remained more or less the same in more than a decade. She was always encouraging me to go out with friends and have a life of my own.

But I was more than content in just being together as a family. If I needed time of my own it was mostly spent in reading or other solitary things. It was all great going till she was around because I could lean on her to keep me connected to the world both amongst family and friends. Now with her being gone, I face a new challenge.

I cannot continue with my old ways anymore because it’s going to be detrimental to my son’s progress. I cannot let my aloofness come in the way of his happiness. I don’t necessarily agree that being an introvert is a bad thing at all. I never felt the urge to change it much because that’s who I am. We were great together because we complemented each other so well. She had everything that I didn’t have in my personality and much more.

But life’s circumstances today have placed me in a  very difficult position. Being a single parent, I have to try and provide my son the environment that he so deserves. What would have been a given had she been around now seems like a mountain to climb. I know I can never even dream of filling the void but I have to try as much as I can. That is more or less why I exist today. Being a parent keeps me from giving up on life.

With my own grief being so strong right now, reaching out to people is difficult at times. One of the reasons I write is to connect to people and put words where voice is difficult. I cannot always muster the will to pick up the phone and call but I do write often and at least for now, that’s how I plan to share my life.

It’s too early to say how this emotional upheaval has changed me, it’s a journey of a lifetime. I know well that I cannot ever get over her loss but I can live with this unbearable pain and that is also how I continue to be in love.

“There are some wounds that one can heal only by deepening them and making them worse.”
― Villiers de L’Isle-Adam