Today marks the second anniversary of death, I’m still unsure of how to attach ‘death’ with someone who was so alive. The heart still refuses to believe what the mind has known all along. I’m not sure if it will ever feel real, if it will ever sink in. There’s nothing good about this day as it permanently marked the end of life as I had known it. In one single instance, the innocense and spontaniety about life evaporated.
My late wife lived her life with remarkable enthusiasm down to her last days.Despite the gravity of the situation, there wasn’t a day where we felt that all was lost. Infact just the day before, she had shown visible signs of improvement. I had thought that the worst was over, that we would survive this eventually.
Early in the morning on Mar 12th, I received a call from the ICU. The doctor on call said I shoud rush immediately, I didn’t know how to react. My logical faculties were on the verge of shutting down. It had been almost 10 days since she had been in the ICU fighting with extraordinary courage for life and for the people she had dearly loved.
Before cancer invaded our lives, there was not a single day either of us had spent in the hospital. She was extremely fit, full of energy and filled with a life force that was infectious. Perhaps it’s a testimony to her physical and mental strength that she was able to withstand months of such gruesome treatments.
The day before she was moved to the ICU, she was in unbearable pain.Even getting off from the bed was a nightmare. Yet, she walked to the restroom refusing support, teeth clenched and eyes fierce with determination. I guess that was her way to defy the odds. The two channels that she had watched most during the long and innumerable hospital stays were comdey central and the food channel. Laughter and food – her two great loves.
In the wee hours of the morning when I got that call, unknown to me the last day of her life in this physical realm had begun. I was handed an xray and told that fluid had filled up in her lungs. I remember asking “surely there would be a way to drain this”, we had come so far in our battle against cancer. How could this be a road block? No one told me what next, I was just told it was serious and they would try a procedure to alter her position so that the fluid could be drained but there were no gaurantees it would work.
By afternoon, I was informed that she might need dialysis as the kidneys were failing. It was only much later that I read that this was the first sign of multi organ failure which means that the end is near. But on that day, I couldnt even remotely fathom it. I was allowed in the ICU in the evening and I sat near her – just the nurse and me surrounded by flickering screens and medical stats that defined life and death.
My eyes were fixated on the screens, I was watching the numbers go up and down. I have no recollection of what I was thinking because I wasnt – I was in a deep mental void, the kind when your brain has decided to shut down in the face of extreme stress. I dont know how long I sat like that, time stopped and freezed on me. I remember being told to take a break and go out but I didnt hear anything. Words no longer registered.
I saw the nurse hustle around and pump in more and more meds to stabilise the falling blood pressure -“pressers” as known in the medical jargon. I looked at my wife and she seemed to be in a deep sleep. The breathig was labored but it was hard to tell as she was on life support.
Then just past 910 pm, the dreaded straight line appeared on the screen. As for me, I still registered nothing. I got up and adamantly asked the nurse and she was too shocked to say anything. Then she murmurred “the doctor will soon come”. I had no idea what she was talking about. The doctor came in and as a matter of fact said “She’s no more”. Still nothing registered. I asked him how can that be as she was still breathing. Of course in my almost comatic state, I had not realized that the life support machine was still on.
I held her hands for the last time – limp and cold. She hardly looked like the person I had known all these years together. Something seemed to have left the body. The absence of the life force was unmistakable.I didnt cry or wail, tears streamed but I was numbed beyond belief. I left the hospital a few hours later, all alone in this world filled with people but without that one person who made my world go around.
I had switched off from this world. I saw everything that was happening around me but they seemed to be coming from a far away place. A few days later, the last rites over,I found myself carrying an urn of ashes.Twelve years of laughter,happiness, countless memories and unfullfilled dreams rested in that urn.In accordance with religious customs I submerged them at the confluence of three rivers.
On the way back, we stopped at a cafe on the same highway that we had gone on numerous holidays together. I recalled the last time we had stopped here, enroute on yet another vacation.I felt a brutal coldness in that moment. It was a feeling cold, unforgiving and of being scaringly alone in a world full of people.I still shudder when I think of that moment.
It was only after everything was over that the pain erupted with its mind numbing intensity. There was no getting away from it. I woke up with it and till I fell into a troubled sleep, there was no respite. My insides screamed with pain but no words would come out.It was almost like I was drowning and no one heard me.
It was then that I realized that getting out your thoughts was a healthy way of grieving. I started this blog and since then have shared my journey here. These two years have been the toughest years that I have had to face and no matter what comes next, I know I would be ok as I came through these – bruised and weary but alive and even thriving on days.
I have not given up on life as that is what I learned from her. Her courage and determination in the toughest moments have inspired me to get back to life and try to live it in the best manner possible. I’m not successful on many days as the weight of memories is sometimes difficult to carry but I try to move forward a little each day.
Today the pain has eased and on most days its a dull ache untill something just brings everything crashing down but hopefully those days are far and few. I have been fortunate to find new love and a new family. Its not been easy for either of us but together we have pushed ahead towards a new life for us and our children. My new life partner is a strong but compassionate person who has not let losses in her life diminish her spirit.I owe much of my recovery to her support and encouragement.
I know that my late wife is with me on this journey and though I have abandoned God just as He abandoned me, I find peace in the fact that I have someone to whom I can pray to. In difficult moments I ask her to show the way forward and it almost always helps in ways that are difficult to explain rationally.
In this journey of two years I have found that grief isolates people. There were some who avoided me like plague. And yet I’m thankful to family and friends who stayed and offered support – through messages, reading these blogs and checking on me when I was down and out.
I have found that no matter what, you will be judged and that’s ok with me. I have never conformed to rules that people impose on others. It seems strange to me that there are some who think that one should be resigned to a miserable life after a loss. Moving forward is considered being selfish and self aborbed.
Though she lived for only 37 years, she lived a life that was full. She got to travel, make numerous friends and lived each day with energy and passion so characterestic of her.She became an incredible life partner, and the most endearing mother to her little boy. People who knew her best often remember her fondly and always talk about the warmth and happiness that she exuded. I know that because it came from within.
On days like this, though I battle raw grief again,I also take pride in the fact that she shared her life with me. We created memories of a lifetime. But losing her has also been the hardest thing that I have had to endure. I believe she would be happy to see me go forward and not give up on life.
I’m now the keeper of precious memories and her enduring legacy.