The only thing certain about life is death. Yet we are hit with a ferocity when it actually stares us in the face. It shakes us in a way nothing else in our lives does. My two clearest memories of seeing death up, close and personal were that of my maternal grandmother’s (nani) when I was barely 6 years old and of my mum later when I was in my 20s. My nani’s death is so clear in my mind’s eye even though I was so young. How we were picked from school in a rush to make a long journey by road to her home, how mum was crying copiously while dad tried to make arrangements and then the actual reaching there and seeing her on a large ice slab. I remember being shocked by that sight and thinking that she must be so cold. My younger brother had started crying at the very sight. Kids are never prepared for such events. It is difficult to explain death to kids and hence most of us skirt around that topic. And then the rituals that follow are even more confusing. So many questions to ask and no one is interested to answer them.
And then the even worse memory was that of my mother’s death. It will be 18 years in a few months and yet I close my eyes and see the events of a few days preceding her death crystal clear. How I rushed back from the US, how I was taken straight to the hospital where she was hanging on to life, how she went into coma that very evening and then passed away 4 days later as we tried to make sense of her imminent untimely demise. There was a part of me that was left bereft forever that day. I think in a way that day changed my life in ways indescribable.
Why am I talking about this morbid topic? Because this year has been very cruel. We lost a friend to brain cancer. A friend lost her husband. A few friends lost their parents. Another friend lost their pet. And today an acquaintance lost their young son. It was tough to go to their home this morning. While I didn’t say a word, the sea of mourning, remorse and silent tears spoke volumes of the grief everyone present was experiencing. From one parent to another parent, I can’t imagine a bigger loss that a parent has to endure. In that one moment, every other thing that you’ve done or will do becomes inconsequential in comparison. All I have been praying for and wishing is that they somehow find the strength and courage to bear this unbelievable loss, and I am feeling so disturbed, so very sad.
No matter what any person does or says, the loss will never become bearable. A lot of thoughts swirl in my mind today and foremost is the reiteration that very few things in life matter more than our dear ones. Our family and friends are our lifeline. Every silly tiff, jealousy, grudge that we may hold will feel like a dwarf compared to the larger perspective that life is transitory. We really do not know what the next moment holds. And while we all have jobs to do, let us not lose perspective of this ever.
Let us hug our parents, siblings, spouses, kids and friends just for what they mean to us. And every time we have a fight, find a way to make up because life is short and you never know.
As I shed tears for all those we lost this year, I also pray that our families stay safe.
Featured pic courtesy: By FocusStocker on Shutterstock
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