Raindrops

On a lonely Saturday evening I stood and watched the rain drops fall from the grey skies
It felt like they drenched my grieving heart

I whiffed the fragrance of the moist earth
It felt like you were around and that we were together again

I saw the rain drops fall on the pool, little droplets merging with the expanse of water
It felt so beautiful and yet so sad for it felt like my tear drops dissolving with the rain

For a moment, I felt you next to me – both of us watching the rain drops fall
Just then arose a thunderstorm and my reverie was broken
I found myself standing alone amongst the rain drops

I remembered how much we loved the rain
It was always my excuse to stay indoors and enjoy a hot mug of soup or tea with a movie

I felt the familiar pain creep in and spent the rest of the evening fighting it
I don’t know where you are and why my days are so lonely

A year is upon me , a year without you. I don’t know how I’ve made it this far
Your absence echoes every moment and I often think why I’m here still

But I must take this pain and continue on this journey because I have a promise to keep
No matter how hard it gets,I have to be that tiny drop that merges with the water and disappears

This life is just the blink of an eye, very soon my work here will be done and we will be together again for eternity watching the raindrops fall

My Little Savior

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“My father nodded. His nod was for me. Different. But not different at all. My father understood. Maybe he had known. Maybe he hadn’t. It didn’t matter anymore. He understood. I knew he understood, just from his nod, just from his eyes on mine, making his eyes kind for me, and the wave of pain went away for a moment”.- Adam Berlin

I often look at my seven year old boy and I’m literally amazed every time at how he’s lived through this nightmare . He is so much like his mom – high energy, the most beautiful smile and a tender heart. Whenever I feel like giving up, I remind myself that I still have her through him.

So less is said about how children handle such a devastating loss. The general perception is that nothing needs to be done as they are too young to understand. I never believed in this lie and I’m glad I didn’t.

Truth is that they know and understand much more than we ever think they are capable of. We are told to be strong and not show emotions in front of them.

I remember a time, it was probably only a few days after and I was getting ready to go to work. As I got dressed I felt this terrible wave come over me. Without realizing it, I broke down, I could take it no longer.

My little boy saw this and gave me the biggest hug he could. As I held him and my tears flowed freely , I felt momentarily at peace. I went back to the time in the hospital when I held him for the first time. I remember the nurse telling me – “You looked so peaceful”.

I often tell myself that he needs me but the real truth is that I need him more. He is the thread that has kept me here. I don’t know what would I have done without him.

Many days after a hard days work,as I drive home, I often find myself thinking – “Where do I go now, there’s no one waiting for me”. And then I immediately feel guilty for I remember my son waiting for me. I remember that when I get home, he will come running and give me his version of the ‘bear’  hug.

No matter how busy I am, I call him every day from work. I have realized I do it for myself. I know he won’t even remember if I miss a day but it’s become a habit. I ask him if he’s eaten his lunch, about what happened at school, about who was naughty in class.

Sometimes he’s busy watching cartoons and puts me on hold but I still linger on. I remember the days when I would call home from work and his mom would answer sleepily awoken abruptly from an afternoon nap.

I don’t know if she ever got it. I was probably feeling stressed out at work and just needed to hear her reassuring voice. I have lost my safety net but old habits die hard.

Whenever I spent time with our son, playing or watching movies it made her the happiest. I guess at some level she felt guilty that due to my responsibilities I couldn’t spend enough time with him.

But taking care of them made me the happiest. I hated work but still slogged because I was always telling myself “it’s all for them,its all worth it”

These days as I work hard as I always did, I sometimes lose it trying to give meaning to a life gone meaningless. I have to remind myself that “I still do it for them”.

When he grows up I hope we can be the best of friends. I hope to discuss everything under the sun with him though he will feel what a bore his old man is.

I want to tell him that though I can’t bring his mom back, I can recount innumerable funny stories and that our love is eternal. I can tell him how much she loved us and how much she means to us. We can’t do without her.

I know it’s not the same as having her with us, I wish if I had that power to bring her back even at the cost of my life, I would have done it long back.

I want him to know that as long as we live, she will live on. It’s the least we can do for the woman we love most.

A Weary Heart

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” – Macbeth

I guess I’m feeling mentally and physically worn out. I sometimes yearn for a good day or a peaceful weekend but never seem to get it. It’s just this constant sadness accompanied by a routine that is so  monotonous that I don’t know where the night ends and the day begins.

Holidays and weekends are always a problem because that means I’m going to have trouble staying at home and take in the suffering if I venture outside. I miss those conversations we used to have together. I miss being told where to go and what to do.

The fact that next month it’s going to be a year is weighing heavily on me. By now I know that the magnitude of loss that I have suffered cannot be measured in years. How do you put a number to a lifetime of broken dreams?

At work there’s a lot going on and many times it becomes difficult to keep your focus and keep getting through the days. I try to juggle my responsibilities at work and home but the biggest challenge has been handling my own emotions.

Each day seems emotionally draining. I wish there would be a change, something to look forward to again but right now it’s difficult to find hope. On the outside my life is going on, I’m fulfilling my responsibilities but within I feel like a dead man walking.

I know this is the only way through, sometimes we just need to keep going despite all the obstacles. When I look at our pictures together, it sometimes feels like I’m looking at someone else and it’s probably true. I’m no longer the person I was with my wife around.

Grief has made me withdrawn, angry and irritable. However it has also made me more compassionate and honest as a person. This is the reason I’m able to write so much about this journey here.

The isolation and the loneliness is overpowering at times but my son is the light bearer in this dark journey. I’m not able to spend much time with him on the weekdays but I look forward to reading him a story every night. He lends purpose to a life gone meaningless.

I don’t think about the future much because the one I dreamed of is gone forever. I haven’t reached a stage where I can see clearly where I’m going. My goal is still to get through each day, that’s all. Anything else seems beyond my limits.

I carry this massive void wherever I go. It’s hard to run away from yourself. My grief has changed from the first few weeks and months but it hasn’t necessarily gotten better. It’s just that I’m able to keep it submerged within for longer periods of time.

I’m in no hurry to get anywhere. I have no lofty professional or personal ambitions. I’m just walking the path that life has forced upon me. Maybe some day it will get easier and I will be able to reflect on how far I’ve come in this journey. I know I will get there in my own time and my own way.

Life has changed so much that the past feels much like a dream. I wish I could roll back the clock and escape from this place that I find myself in. I wish..

The why’s

“So why do I write, torturing myself to put it down? Because in spite of myself I’ve learned some things. Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled “file and forget,” and I can neither file nor forget. Nor will certain ideas forget me; they keep filing away at my lethargy, my complacency. Why should I be the one to dream this nightmare?” 
― Ralph Ellison

I have been at home sick today from what hopefully appears to be a mild case of cold. It’s in the air and lot of people and kids have been falling sick. When I sit back and think how much my mind and body have gone through in the past year and a half, it gives me the chills.
But somehow, miraculously I never fell sick not even for a day. I was the primary caregiver for my wife and I just couldn’t afford to be down.

And so I slogged through work, countless hospital trips, medicines, the every day trauma of seeing the love of your life battle a deadly disease like leukemia. Now that it’s all over, and though we lost that war, my journey through dark tunnels continues. So today I finally took a sick day off and tried to give my weary mind and body some rest.

A few months back, I would have probably shuddered at the thought of being alone at home but today I’m more comfortable with my loneliness. It’s hard to not be melancholy though – the quietness, the walls that seem to reflect so many memories of the happy days gone by.

It still feels like she will walk in anytime through the door, it still feels like she’s just out for shopping and will be back before the school ends. She would have fussed over me and at the same time chided me for being so delicate and catching a cold. In all our years together before the illness she had never been sick, not even for a day. There was never a time when I had to take care of the house or our child because she was sick.

She was strong, full of life, lead a very active and healthy lifestyle and was in prime health. I could have never visualized her not being there. She pretty much ran our lives and I depended on her for everything from ordering food, buying clothes, planning the weekends and vacations, and countless other things that made our life tick.

Our life changed unimaginably after the cancer diagnosis. I can never forget the moment I got the news. I remember I stumbled and barely managed to stay upright. My mouth went dry and though I had a million questions on my mind, nothing would come out. My life will always be divided into before and after that moment.

I can never get that question out of my mind – Why her of all the people. She couldn’t have hurt a fly. No one can say for sure why such things happen. I have read much and all I have are theories. One theory says that everything is predestined, there is a karmic reason behind everything. The other theory says that not everything has a meaning.

There are some events like terminal illnesses or fatal accidents which are completely random. They represent the chaos in God’s orderly universe. This theory states that God doesn’t cause such events even though he doesn’t prevent it. This is the reason why life is unfair and the being righteous doesn’t protect you from harm.

Our bodies function via intricately complex processes that are not yet fully understood. Any aberration in this mind boggling mechanism can result in a deadly disease. I have read so much about cancer and I have more questions than I have answers.

During our lifetime millions of cells are born and die. And yet sometimes what appears to be a completely random event, a cell becomes a rogue and refuses to die. It then multiplies at a frightening pace. This is how cancer manifests itself.

I don’t know which theory to believe in. My life has been changed forever by a rogue cell. I don’t know if it was predetermined or it was a completely random event outside of God’s intervention. Every theory has an inherent flaw. I want to believe in randomness but then why is it that some make miraculous escapes from similar diseases but others can’t?

I don’t know if my search for answers will bring me peace or acceptance. I still search because someday I want to discuss these things with my son and help him cope. Now he’s too young but someday he will face these same questions which haunt me everyday.

We have both lost the woman we love the most and have to go on life’s journey without her by our side. We have been reduced to two from three and we want some answers to why our life has become the way it is now. Some will say it’s futile to search for answers and though I know we will never find what we are looking for, this search is also part of this grief journey.

Yes, life goes on in the world outside but our lives have been changed forever. I struggle with the why’s every day.

On Our Special Day

Finding someone you love and who loves you back is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. But finding a true soul mate is an even better feeling. A soul mate is someone who understands you like no other, loves you like no other, will be there for you forever, no matter what. They say that nothing lasts forever, but I am a firm believer in the fact that for some, love lives on even after we’re gone.
― Cecelia Ahern, P.S. I Love You

Thirteen years ago today I was getting married and about to begin the happiest phase of my life and today I find myself alone writing this blog. I don’t know what else to do being without my heart and soul – my wife.

The days leading up to today have been extremely difficult and I know the days that will follow will be no less. In the midst of loss and grief,this day what used to be ours has also been taken from us.

I miss her every minute of every day and its not that once today is done, I will feel any big relief. In that regard, today is as hard as any other day has been without her.

However, today I don’t want to write only about how much I miss her but I also want to write about us – the love we shared, the timeless memories we made and above all the extraordinary life she lived.

We were married in traditional Hindu rituals which typically go on till the wee hours of the morning. Ever the non conformist I hated religious ceremonies of any sort. I could never make sense of what the priest was asking me to do.

It would be fair to say that I sleep walked through the entire ceremony. I must have committed many guffaws mostly because I wasn’t paying attention and by the end of it I was dog tired.

But I still remember that incredible feeling after it was all done. I felt this warm feeling wash all over me – I wasn’t alone anymore,I had someone really special in my life. And even back then it seemed I had always known her.

From the time we met for the first time it never felt that there was a time in my life that I had not known her. It seemed that she had always been a part of my life. We were soulmates in every sense of the word.

We were two opposites – she the beautiful, gregarious, warm, affectionate, life of a party and me the gawky, boring introvert. But together we were a force, a team worthy of fighting anything life threw at us and for the most part we prevailed.

I was the happiest with her around. My world started and ended with her. I had few friends and she was making new friends all the time. Our home was always buzzing with her high energy and infections enthusiasm for life.

Her love for travelling the world and seeing new places took us on many unforgettable journeys. I’m glad I could indulge her passion. Her love for food always makes me smile. She was an incorrigible foodie and in her company I also started relishing new cuisines.

Whenever we ate out, she would always order for me. I couldn’t be bothered except checking out the drinks menu. She could go on and on about food while I could hardly remember my last meal. Whenever I went out for business lunches at some fancy place, I always brought her something from the coffee shop.

Anniversaries were always special. She would always tell our little boy that “this was the day mom and dad got married” and in his childish innocence he would always be cross that we left him out of all the fun.

She hated Valentines day and would always say why there has to be a specific day for anything. However I was always the one with gifts and cards. After she got tired of getting the same perfumes, chocolates and watches, we formed a pact of buying something for the house instead – an air conditioner,a new TV, home appliances or whatever we wanted to get. My hopes of getting that lazy boy recliner were dashed several times.

Our relationship wasn’t perfect and I’m glad it wasn’t for there’s no such thing. We had our fair share of fights and arguments, I must have been the one to blame in most of these. However what I remember most is that many times it ended with both of us bursting out in laughter at how absurd it was. Marriage is such a beautiful thing.

She was and is my pride, I loved to introduce her to people as my wife. Her amazing self confidence, high intelligence and most of all her pure inner self always made me feel I was so blessed to have her in my life.

She was and is my strength, my go to person in a crisis. If there was anyone whose praise mattered to me, it was her and I could never get enough of it. She was the one to always keep me on my toes, always the one to push me to do better. She was the one who believed in me though I was good at nothing.

And then one fine day just like that it all ended – no notice, no alarm bells, nothing. Even when she was diagnosed with Leukemia, we never gave up. She was so strong, invincible. I was so sure we would beat the crap out of it.

I never thought such a day would come in my life. I would be left alone again to carry on. I’m mad at God. The moment I see that word anywhere I stop reading.

It should have been our thirteenth year together. We should have been living our dream. I have lost faith in life and yet I carry on. I can’t take care of her anymore and it breaks my heart but I have our son. He and I will carry her legacy forward in this life.

I often wonder what can I do for her now that she’s physically not with us. And yet I have this insatiable urge to do something, to make this life worthwhile for her. I want to write about our life together, about the incredible person she was. I want to write a memoir for our son and for the people who loved her. She was always encouraging me to write, to follow my passion. It’s the least I can do for her.

I believe that life just doesn’t end like that. We have a higher purpose in this physical realm. Love transcends physical boundaries. So what if she’s not here, she’s always with us. To doubt her continued presence in our life would be to doubt the love we had for each other. I’m still here and as long as I’m here, she continues to live on.

Happy anniversary sweetheart. Love you so much yesterday, today and forever.

‘We’ the grieving

Sometimes I feel totally misunderstood by people around me , I know many of us go through this as there are only two cases here, either you get it or you don’t. We live in a fast moving world driven by instant gratification. There’s a solution, a fix available for everything. But there’s no fix for losing someone you have loved with every thread of your being.

Some losses in life cannot be overcome. You can only go through it trusting the process. It requires courage to grieve – to face the full wrath of emotional pain for an undefined length of time.

We are not weak or selfish, on the contrary we are amazed every day by our own strength to carry on in a meaningless world – a world which has not lost what we have lost.

This is for all the courageous souls who keep getting put down by people including family who don’t get it because they are not on this path:

We are told to let go when memories are all we have
We are told to look at the future when a day seems a year
We are told we will again find someone when all we can think of is the one we have lost
We are told we are not alone when loneliness is all we have

We are broken inside but still smile on the outside
We sometimes fight tears in unusual places
We still make small talk when our loss is screaming at us from the inside
We still come back home every day hoping to see the one we have lost

We feel it’s all a dream but we never wake up from it
We look for signs and messages from the other side
We know more about death than we know about life
We try running from our grief but always fall into its cold embrace

We sometimes drive with glazed eyes
We talk to ourselves and keep saying ‘we’ instead of I
We feel the pain of others on this path, we ‘get’ it
We long to be heard but have no words sometimes

All we ask is:

Don’t put us on a timeline to heal for we are not on a mission
Don’t demand that we get better for we will get there in our own time
Don’t ask us to dwell on the future, we can’t see that far yet
Don’t tell us there are others suffering too, it doesn’t take away our pain

We are down, bruised and close to extinction
But we will surface again, changed forever by this experience
We will learn to live again with our immense sadness and still smile
We will find our path again guided by our love

But for now help us walk this path
Talk to us about our loved one, honor our memories
Put an arm around our shoulder and share our loneliness
Let us grieve for as long as we need to because it is sacred just like our love

A Melancholy Weekend

“There’s a special quality to the loneliness of dusk, a melancholy more brooding even than the night’s.”
― Ed Gorman

It’s been a rough weekend. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that a year is coming up or the fact that I miss her so much every day and even more so on the weekends and holidays. During the week I hide behind the pretext of work and routine but by the end of the week it leaves me both physically and emotionally exhausted.

Weekends are a stark reminder of all that is now lost. It starts with Fri night which used to be our pizza night. We would stay late, talk and rewind over a few drinks. I worked hard all week for these Fri nights. Our weekend would extend late into Sunday sometimes. Life seemed so full and content.

I try to spend all my weekend with my little boy because I always feel guilty of not spending enough time with him during the week. So we play, solve puzzles or go out to movies. But sometimes my grief weighs me down and I don’t feel like going anywhere. This weekend has been like that.

March would mark a year and some of the dates that roll by are etched in my memory. I don’t want to acknowledge them because I want to remember the extraordinary life she lived and not the end but some dates make it very hard. For instance I want to erase Feb 7th from my memory – the cancer came back that day and it was the worst day of my life.

And yet a year later yesterday, I spent all day thinking about it. I remembered the exact moment I got the report , I remembered the pure dread I felt in that instant and I remembered the immense strength of character my wife showed that day and in the days that followed. I don’t know many people who would be handed such a devastating news and who still have the courage to sit through a school function that very evening clapping and cheering for our son as if it was just another day. I didn’t attend. I didn’t posses the strength she had.

I will forever carry the burden of that day and many others that followed. I don’t want to revisit those days but they are part of who I am. Terrible and frightful they might have been but they are still mine. I can’t let go of them. Many times people ask me how long it would take, how long does grief take?

I want to ask them – how long does love last? In my book it lasts forever and so does grief. I wish we could quantify how long someone should be missed. Truth is we miss the ones we have loved so dearly forever. The longing ends only when this physical life ends and we are united in eternity.

I spent much of Saturday night solving a hundred piece world map puzzle with my son. Actually it was just me trying to escape my grief. I spent hours assembling the map. But I guess it’s OK, I was being too hard on myself. I have been through something extraordinary and it’s OK to acknowledge it. It’s OK to be sad as I sometimes tell my son. I won’t be a lesser man for acknowledging that I miss my wife every second of every minute still.

When I start getting too lost I often take a walk. These days the steps seem heavy, the mind is often clogged and the eyes are often dazed. But I walk and it helps me cope with difficult and lonely evenings. I never thought it would be so hard but as I walk a memory makes me smile. I remember how on our walks together, I would be always pleading with her to walk slower so that I could keep pace. I was always trying to match her step.

Unchained Melody

Few weeks back or maybe it was just last week, I couldn’t be bothered to remember, I watched this old classic “Ghost”. I vaguely remember my wife mentioning this movie to me or maybe I’m dreaming that she did. Again I couldn’t be bothered. What is more important is that the thought stuck. I’m always collecting dvds and more so these days when I aimlessly browse the stores. The dvd screamed out to me and I knew I had pick it up.

I watched the movie and it was amazing and so was this song which I had always thought I had heard but never probably paid attention to the lyrics. It’s incredible how much music can mimic life..

Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

Lonely rivers flow
To the sea, to the sea
To the open arms of the sea
Lonely rivers sigh
“Wait for me, wait for me”
I’ll be coming home, wait for me

Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered, for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me
Lonely mountains gaze
At the stars, at the stars
Waiting for the dawn of the day
All alone I gaze
At the stars, at the stars
Dreaming of my love far away

Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered, for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

This journey in words

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I never ever imagined that one day I would be writing so much about my experience of grief and loss. I never intended to but once I started writing I couldn’t stop. The first blog I wrote was more or less an eulogy for the love of my life. It had been only a week or so and I was in a pain so intense that I didn’t know where to turn and what to do.

I always had secret ambitions of being a writer though I never really heeded to my inner self. I followed the crowd and did what ‘others’ thought was good for me. Amongst all other subjects at school I excelled at English and history and yet I ended up studying math and science. Not that I didn’t like it but quite clearly I had no passion for a career in it.

Somehow I have been walking the middle path like many of us. Sometimes when I get interesting problems to solve at work I get involved whole heartedly and yet at most other times I’m just aloof. Work has remained more of a duty than a passion and at forty it’s unlikely to change.

But when struck with the most unimaginable tragedy of all, I found myself turning to writing. It was as if the writer in me woke up and decided to hold my hand through the darkest days of my life. And so I wrote, furiously at first and then slowing down as grief wore me down and found a place to nestle within.

When I wrote that first post, I was in extreme emotional and physical pain. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me, I felt shock, fear and most days I just could do nothing but stare at the walls and cry. Our life together had ended and I was at a loss to accept that I had to go on alone. I wanted the pain to somehow end, I wanted out. I felt I had no reasons left to go on.

But regardless of what we feel at the time, we have to go on. I had to live for our six year old who had lost his mom even before he had experienced much of this world. When the pain settled down a bit, I thought about the extraordinary woman that my wife was, I was so fortunate to have known her and I felt ashamed at myself.

A year is coming up and it has been a nightmare in every possible way. I have felt every dark emotion I thought I was capable of – intense sadness, terrible anger, mind numbing frustration and yet I’m still here. I believe writing has been a major factor in my survival. On dark days it has been my constant solace. Other than writing here, I have continued to write my thoughts in a private journal.

On days when I feel completely alone, I write, on days that I feel like I’m doing better I write. I find that it makes me feel less lonely, it makes me feel I’m talking to someone who understands. Later I read in many books about the positive effects of journaling through grief and I could understand how it helps.

Grief is an extremely isolating journey. Most days you find yourself alone going through the motions of living. Perhaps this is more true if have lost the person with whom you had planned to spend the rest of your life. Responsibilities don’t become any easier just because you have lost someone so dear. The world goes on and you stumble and fall to keep pace.

I have gone weeks and months without talking to anyone about how I really feel. At such times, I have poured my heart out on this blog. I don’t know where else to turn. I don’t know where this journey will take me but I’m glad I have had the courage to document it. It has helped me immensely.

I have been moved to tears at the compassion showed by others unfortunate like me to be walking this path. I don’t know them personally but we belong to the brotherhood of suffering. Our grief unites us, we understand each other in ways it’s not possible to explain in mere words. We have felt darkness in a way no one should ever feel and yet we have survived.

By now I know well that this is a journey with no ending.I will carry my grief to the grave just like I will carry my love. I don’t know how I will feel in the years to come. I don’t know if I will ever find love and happiness again but I know one thing that I will continue to write about my journey.

Many times I’m asked how I’m doing. The question is exasperating at times but to those I know will not understand I say I’m doing OK, I’m doing better but to those that I know really mean it , I point them to these words and say it’s long and complicated. If you have the time, please read about how I really feel. Many do and I can’t be more grateful for they read and do not judge. They give my words meaning, I write for them.