Tejaswee back from school on 19th Nov 2007…
First a hug for Sher Khan Puppy,
Cross posted at The life and times of an Indian Homemaker
Tejaswee back from school on 19th Nov 2007…
First a hug for Sher Khan Puppy,
Cross posted at The life and times of an Indian Homemaker
I went through a strong phase and thought I had managed to will myself to continue to feel strong. Mornings began without the painful weight in the chest and I walked and ate with care and felt stronger and at times I wondered – despite her photographs all around, if Tejaswee was a dream. Because if she wasn’t a dream how could she just not be there anymore. Death is very difficult to understand. One minute she was the center of our existence, the next minute we felt like our heads were being banged against the sides of a box we were locked in.
And we are still breathing.
After mid-November I was able to visit a relative in a hospital, get a haircut and buy a lipstick, watch ‘Guzarish‘ – so although there was no happiness, it seemed one was getting stronger. It was a glimpse of what future was going to be like. This was much more than I had expected and I was grateful for every morning that began without the painful, unbearable heaviness.
And then on the 27th night, the heaviness began again. No thoughts, no memories just the same terrible heaviness – without any warning. 28th was my husband’s birthday. We ordered breakfast when some close relatives visited and the morning passed. In the evening my sis in law suggested we visit them in the same complex, some other relatives would be there too, and if it becomes too much, she said, we could always go back home. But I took pictures. A cake was cut and the evening was not as difficult as I had feared.
But that was the end of the strong phase. There is no escaping grief. Writing about strongly felt issues helps. Reading helps. Brisk walking helps. Making plans helps. Not looking at any photographs that have not been seen for a while helped. Reading ‘Beyond Tears: Living After Losing A Child‘ helped. Communicating and connecting helped tremendously too. But these didn’t stop the crushing heaviness from emerging again. I was wrong in thinking this positive phase had something to do with my trying so hard. The brief relief was just a part of the roller coaster ride that grief is. There were days and even weeks of respite. I had started hoping and even wondering if maybe the human mind could only take this much pain and the comfort that numbness brings was inevitable.
They say, ‘The best healers in the world are God and Time.’ Time does seem to be helping. The pain today is not the same as on the 29th Aug, the day the shock started wearing off for me. A mother on ‘Compassionate Friends‘ was right when she said, ‘It does get better.’ I believe that, and would like to say the same to Gina who lost her 21 year old beautiful daughter Sarah on July 12th.
Someone I met for not more than an hour in Sikkim said mothers have great emotional strength and spoke of how Indira Gandhi handled her son’s death. I wanted to hear what he had to say, words help, so I did not argue that Alexander Onassis’s mother was a woman too. He spoke of how in Mahabharata, when Arjuna died and reached heaven, he ran and ran and ran to meet his 18 year old, brave son Abhimanyu. Finally he spotted him, but Abhimanyu did not respond with the same enthusiasm. He said we humans are entangled in this mamta, maya and moh but souls are free of it and so while we were grieving here, our daughter was free and at peace. The soul feels no pain.
I wish I could believe this. I wish I could believe that she still exists, and exists somewhere much better. And then I hope she is glad to be there, because I can’t forget that all her life she said she wanted to live a long, long life.
Cross Posted at The Life and Times of an Indian Home Maker.
Since I want to remember my daughter’s life and not her death, I try not to think about the time she was in the ICU. I try and remind myself that the last nineteen and half years were the best years of our lives and such precious memories should make us smile not cry. I also fear that if remembering her causes pain, one day we may not want to remember her.
And then a relationship so beautiful should give us the strength to face what we can’t change.
Last Tuesday, a dear, elderly relative was in the ICU and I felt I would atleast be able to go to the hospital, if not visit him inside the ICU. Just then I got a call from a blogging friend – (for the first time ever) Sangeeta Khanna. She said she knew the moment she heard my voice that I was feeling positive. She sounded so glad, her relief and the fact that she cared was overwhelming and strengthening. She said, “I am so happy you are going now, it’s better to confront our fears. You will be fine. Go to the ICU too. You will be fine. I know.”
Reminded me of another friends who had said ‘Just pick it up IHM!”
I did not go inside the ICU but I know I can. I have been avoiding all triggers and reading positive books and it does help… but I am also learning that I can confront some triggers.
I told her, “This week has been easy. I slept well, and one day I woke up without this terrible weight in my chest… I blogged. I read. I plan to learn to knit. On easy days, I make plans for what I’d do and think when the pain is intense and everything seems hopeless, because there is no way to know how difficult tomorrow might turn out to be...”
“Tomorrow!? …we can’t even tell how we’d feel in an hour.” Sangeeta understood. She knew.
The not knowing is frightening.
All these days I have been wishing I could see a sign, some indication that my daughter is still there somewhere. On the 24th morning I made a cup of tea and spilled some and I picked a duster, and was wiping it. It was a pleasant October morning, and pleasant mornings had been saddening, because everything good seemed to rub in how the world goes on… but this morning I noticed the lovely morning without pain.
And then I noticed, suddenly, that I was humming. I was humming the first song from sm’s video. And I wondered if a stronger sign was needed. I remembered a beautiful email from a mother who had lost her daughter, just after losing her husband to cancer. She had said, “One day you will hear yourself laugh, you will be startled. But know that even if this moment disappeared like it never happened, there will be many more of such moments. The pain will never go, but you will smile again.” And I am sure I will find myself humming on many more such mornings.
I will also smile and remember her like I did on Saturday evening, when I told a friend about how much Tejaswee could talk even as a baby.
Here are two movies my son thinks we should watch.
1. Welcome to the Rileys
“James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo have spent years mourning the tragic loss of their 15-year old daughter. They cope in their own ways. He sleeps with a waitress, and she never leaves the house under any circumstance. But when Doug (Gandolfini) travels to New Orleans for a trade show and lands himself in the life of a very young, runaway girl named Mallory (Kristen Stewart) who spends time stripping and turning tricks to maintain her meager, dirty existence.
Doug takes Mallory under his wing. He helps her clean up her house, attempts to give her a direction in life, all while telling his wife that he just can’t come home. This prompts his wife to leave the house and come to New Orleans, where she and Doug spend time weaving themselves into Mallory’s life, finding only more trouble as they get more and more involved.” [Link]
2. Charlie St Cloud
‘Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is a young man overcome by grief at the death of his younger brother, who takes a job as caretaker of the cemetery in which his brother Sam is buried. Charlie has a special bond with Sam, he meets him every night to play catch and to talk. Then, a girl comes into Charlie’s life and he must choose between keeping a promise he made to Sam, or going after the girl he loves.’ [Link]
And Shy recommended this one.
3. Rabit Hole
“After the sudden death of their beloved child Becca (Nicole Kidman) and her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are neither dead, as they might sometimes wish to be, nor alive, at least as they once were. Eight months after 4-year-old Danny ran into the street and was killed by a teenage driver, they dwell in a limbo… To move on is a betrayal of Danny’s memory; to remain paralyzed by sadness is to count not one but three fatal victims to the tragedy… it is an evocation of coping that is deeply, complexly, heartbreakingly human. —M.C.” [Link]
Edited to add:
Thank You Chinkurli,
4. The Son’s Room
(This one recommended by Sangitha.)
5. The Ordinary People
Robert Redford made his Oscar-winning directorial debut (based on the novel by Judith Guest). Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland lose the older of their two sons to a boating accident; the surviving teenage son blames himself for his brother’s death and has attempted suicide to end his pain. They live in a meticulously kept home in an affluent Chicago suburb, never allowing themselves to speak openly of the grief that threatens to tear them apart. The movie examines the complexity of repressed emotions that have festered under the pretense of coping…–Jeff Shannon [Link]
Watching movies about child loss and how the families cope is helpful, not depressing. It’s the same as reading books like ‘The Knitting Circle’ and ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’.
Cross Posted at ‘The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker’
Here are some books I found helpful.
It’s about how life can change so suddenly. I could totally relate to the author feeling this was happening to someone else and she was just watching it happen. Also her unwillingness to change anything – because the finality takes a long time to sink in. Leaving our GK house troubled me, because I felt (knowing that was not true) that Tejaswee won’t be able to find us if we moved. Also a feeling that we could have saved her if we had worn white T shirts while waiting outside the ICU, or put pictures in an empty frame or said ‘touchwood‘ whenever we said the same thing together. The book made me see I wasn’t the only one to feel this way.
This book is about hope, and for me, also about some comforting ‘make believe’. It is very difficult to believe that someone who is such a part of your life (and will be forever) is now ‘not there’. The book seems to say, “We don’t know, we have reason to believe they are gone forever, but we also have reason to believe they are still there somewhere and they are happy.” The book is about what people see and feel when they have near death experiences.
The author lost her 5 year daughter to Meningitis and I could relate to what she felt and how she tried to cope. The book is about how she moved through her grief and how for a long, long time, nothing else mattered. I realise, I enjoyed being a part of what was happening in the world around me but have almost no interest in it now…On some days I cannot think, watch, read, talk about anything beyond my grief. Thankfully there is enough to read about what I can read.
But, this book is also about knitting. This book made me smile, hope and made me want to learn to knit. I think that is a miracle in itself… I have crocheted as a teenager, and gifted crocheted stuffed toys to friends. The last time I tried knitting was when Tejaswee was born, my mom finished it for me. Now I would like to try it again.
I can’t thank Sangeeta enough for recommending this book.
This book is for fathers of sons. Mothers too. I strongly recommend anybody who has a son to read this book. It’s entertaining but I did not find it comforting for me in anyway. This book made me wonder who my daughter would have met if she was in this book. My dad. My husband’s parents. A dear friend I lost in 1994. But once you start reading you realise the author doesn’t think you meet only your family. Read to find out who he thinks one could meet.
5. Shantaram – I was reading it on my daughter’s recommendation (read insistence) but maybe I will have to try finishing it a little later.
Here are some other books I have ordered, will blog about them once I have read them.
A Summer To Die – Lois Lowry, Jenni Oliver
Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
A Summer To Die – Lois Lowry, Jenni Oliver
Beyond Tears: Living After Losing A Child by Ellen Mitchell (and nine others)
The Road Less Traveled – M. Scott Peck
Note: Cross Posted at The Life and Times of an Indian Home Maker.
My first memory of you was the Saturday, the 17th of November, 2007, when I held the pen with an additional blue line -full of smiles, your dad full of tears. I was appearing for my last written exam ever in a day’s time, but cannot gather myself to sit to prepare. It was mathematics and I gave a damn care to revise through.
My first visit to the doctor was on the 24th of December, 2007. Pretty pleased to know all was well. I first saw you, with my naked eyes on screen as a tiny peanut, floating within me, as lovely as it could be. The complete day was a dream, I had narrated your tiny being to everyone I met that day, called up thaatha and saw how happy he felt…
Everyday, I had carried you across the overhead bridge connecting the home and the campus, the yunnan garden, and walked up atleast 20 minutes, all the while, you pleasurely resting within, with a surpassing peace that only comes with complete trust-I knew you trusted me enough, you never have to say that!! The patient and unprotesting you who tolerated the overnight work I did without feeding you, as I had an important deadline coming up. You were strong, strong enough to withstand all that.
The 14th of January, 2008, I saw you growing up, from the tiny peanut I had seen-you had tiny little feet and buds of fingers. You were just flawless, just flawlessly peaceful!! I brimmed with pride holding that black photograph of yours, to the doctor and the nurse who saw me every time.
She called me up on Jan the 28th, for an urgent meet with her boss, not disclosing details. It rang a bell, but was hopeful otherwise. Come Jan 29th, we were just watching, submerged in the little kids playing around us. When it was our turn, when the doc began, I heard nothing beyond the word, “Unfortunately…”. That moment I hated her for that, and it has been growing regularly, my hatred for people.
Worst of all, the ball was in our court, and we had to make a decision, the toughest decision ever. Not that it was tougher as it involved me or us, but it involved you, something you have to fight with every single day of your life!! Now we had two choices – either it had to be having to see you struggle through life, or it had to be living in the absence of your physical proximity. And we chose the second you – our love for you surpassed our love for parenthood.
The four months you stayed back were bliss, and I was already beginning to sense your heartbeat, only when I laid on my tummy. I remember the last bath I had with you, tears wiped away by the shower. It is already 2yrs-2yrs,2months and 9days to be precise, since we parted. I was not privileged to see and touch the physical you, for some reason your dad chose otherwise. All these years, not a single day has passed on without my thinking of you. NOT A SINGLE DAY!! Somehow, to me, you live in everything around me- I love my workplace the most, as it was where you lived most.
These two years are the most appalling years of life- we have tried to fill the silence and empty space around with loud quarrels, shifted home twice, worked like a maniac, avoided gatherings – nothing has helped. And we were not prepared to go forth with life until November 2009, when we finally realized there was no other option. You completely disproved the notion of me- I thought I was strong and enduring, resilient and would get along well with life-it was not to be, and my confidence is completely shattered. Worst, the recently acquired loss in memory of words and the stammering.
Two years hence, I am still the unforgiving me – cannot forgive me to eternity, for shattering your hopes, your dreams, most of all, your strong trust in me. Whoelse did you know, but me? Who else did you hear, but me? In my conscious knowledge, none has trusted me as you did, neither did I.
In a way, you taught me what unfailing trust is. And you, are the strongest man I have ever seen. How else could you have endured 4 longs days with your frail body and tender heart?? I am still in the dark about what you went through those last moments?
Today, my unforgiving self overpowers the less confident me. I wish I had trusted in God, atleast as much as you trusted me. I wish I hadn’t trusted doctors, science and research as much. And I wish I did not have to choose between the two as much. No amount of regret, no amount of sorry, no amount of tears can bring back your lost dreams, your lost hope and your lost life. That’s how helpless life could be!! And please don’t forgive me, NO! Nothing could be as severe as that! I don’t deserve it.
Anyway, thank you for teaching me what it means to carry and deliver a healthy child, how every human is precious. Thank you for making me feel what it means to endure a parting as yours. Thank you for showing me how frail this life on earth is. Thank you for the revelation how one can be so near, yet so unreachable, and all the technologies fail in a moment of desperation. Thank you for teaching me how vulnerable I am, the strong-willed, the determined me. Thank you for teaching me how unfailingly one could trust. Thank you for teaching me how unreliable research/science could be (for now, the docs could not identify the severity of penetration). And, a big thank you for teaching me that academic education isn’t EVERYTHING!! Thank you for teaching me love is alone
the core. Thank you for teaching me what 3 decades of life did not offer. Thank you for teaching me, MTP or abortion, however convincing it might sound at the moment, the aftermaths of it are devastating. Now, I realize as much as I don’t have the power to create, I don’t have the right to destroy, even if I had the power. You are unique by your own self, and God also ha(s)d plans in store for you.
I shall keep loving you, till eternity, for that’s what I can do now!!
Will you give me an opportunity to see and touch you ONLY once?? Please…..
“You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”