A shout out to my love, my Sam, my Schweetie :), who has been nudging me, from time to time, to start blogging! And the time has finally come! As I always say, all in good time:)
The last couple of years have changed and defined my life in many ways. It all started on May 23, 2014 with my spinal fracture. Who would have thought that cleaning grease on the kitchen ceiling in an acrobatic position could result in a backward dive to the floor, and a T11-T12 fracture! This was followed by dad’s heart failure, mom’s demise on Dec 8, 2015, an asthma hospitalization in Feb 2015, dads ill health in Nov 2015, and finally his demise on Jan 16, 2016. Oh but it doesn’t end here! I got impacted by a mandible nerve injury after wisdom teeth extraction in April 2016, followed by another asthma attack! For someone who weighs 100 pounds and is a little over 5.1″ in height, the last 2 years have been, kinda, sorta, maybe, a perfect storm! But strength can come in small packages:) And the worst is over. I believe the phoenix has risen:)
And I forgot to mention I’m an only child, and my parents were indeed my best friends. Let me start with the day mom/amma passed away….
Dec 8, 2014
2:30am PST, Kirkland, WA . The cell phone on my bedside table rings, but I don’t pick up. The number is unrecognizable and all I want to do is sleep.
3:00am. The phone rings again and I decide to pick it up this time around. It is my cousin, Shivani, from India, letting me know that my mom is unconscious and they are heading to the hospital in an ambulance. The word ‘unconscious’ frightens me. Will she gain consciousness? What has happened?
5:00am Mom already crashed for nearly 8 minutes in the ambulance, but they revived her. Mom is put on a heart pump as soon as she gets to the hospital, and her BP and pulse may come back up.
6:30am. She is doing slightly better, and the doctors are hopeful. Shivani tells me, she has come back to life once, her Sai Ram (mom’s guru who is no more) will bring her back again. Mom became a devotee of Sai Baba, after she had a vision of him when she had a near death experience in 2010.
One of Sam’s best friends, N is visiting from California, and sitting right next to me at the island kitchen counter. As I book tickets from Seattle to Chennai, I whatsapp my best friend JM in India and K chithi, mom’s best friend in Dxb, letting them know what’s going on. They tell me, she is super strong, she will come back from this. Don’t lose hope. K chithi just saw her just 2 days ago.
7:30am Tickets from Seattle to Chennai are booked. I need to get ready in a few hours and board a flight. The amount of traveling I do, I should be pretty used to this by now. But this time I don’t know if I get to see mom or not. The uncertainty will probably drive me insane.
8:30am. Sam and I are just about to walk out of the door to get a few little things I need before my trip to India, when the phone rings. Shivani says ‘Sorry da’. No , this is not possible. This cannot happen. She cannot be taken away from me. N is sitting on the couch, and I run to the corner of the room near the patio door and curl up like a ball. My favorite tulip has completely closed. My heart has just been taken away .I have tried to imagine this moment and condition myself to face this moment. I always knew it could happen anytime.
My schweetie and my mom are alike in many ways. They are closed tulips who find it hard to trust people. It is hard for them to connect very deeply with people and find their comfort zone. But they bloom, they bloom with the right people. My favorite July born crabs, moody at times, get into a shell, and I always manage to get them out. But this time I can’t. She is gone.
A closed shell. A closed tulip. But, I tell myself, of course she will always be here with me, forever.
8:45am K chithi calls me from Dubai. ’I can’t believe this. I just saw her 2 days ago. I know you lost your lifeline. I promised your mom that I will be there for you and take care of you right before her first bypass surgery. I know I can’t be her, but I’ll do my best’.
9:30am Sanj, Pret and Laila are here. They are here for me in any which way I want them to be. Standing by the Tv, I show them Mom’s book, ‘Heart Throb Tips’, the book she had completed earlier this year. A book filled with positive thoughts to get you through the best and worst days of your life. A book to warm your soul. Short and sweet, this book is about 50 pages long. Mom sold the book at $1 and donated the proceeds to the Super Specialty hospital in Whitefield, Bangalore, where they conduct pro bono surgeries.
1:00pm Board British Airways flight from Seattle to London
Somewhere in the next 21 hours, I drink a couple of vodkas, cry incessantly, and also write the letter below. This letter was discovered by me a couple of months after mom passed away when I was wandering through word documents on my laptop. Raw, unedited….
I love you I love you I love you I love you….the words ma….i’m not as good as you with words. But ur my lifeline .Ur my 911. Ur my everything..not quite sure how dad and I are gonna survive without you, coz we cant live without you. Ur the best. Ur the best everything. Ur my mother, my sister, my bestfriend. No one else in my life plays so many roles, but u did, u were the best. I love u beyond belief, it baffles me. I’m beside myself. I’ve never been like this. I knew I would be, but it is so different when it happens. , it’s always different from what u expect it to be, coz I love you so much ma…….more than one can imagine…..more than I can say….u r the best know…..i wish u had been around for longer ma……ur not even gone 24 hrs, and I feel like I’m missing my eyes and my feet. I love you I love you. Please tell me what you want from me. I’d give you anything rather than se you go….that’s how much I love you…..more than the world …more than the skies, more than the stars….more than anything I can imagine. Ur the strongest, bravest, most amazing person I’ve ever known ma. It’ll never be the same without you again. God is testing us know. I know. He wants me to get stronger so I can live without you. I will ….i’ll try my very best to do you proud, to be the best I can be, that’s all I have left. Wish you had been around to see more. No matter how many times I say I love you It wouldn’t b enough ma….coz my whole heart is with you for you. Everything I am is coz of you. Please be looking over us….we need you now more than ever……not even sure if I can survive without you ma…I’m super pissed off with your baba…..he took u away from me, but he didn’t give you any pain, I’m glad about that. I’m just like u ma….i hope dad sees that, and it gives him something, I donno how he is gonna live without u, but like u always say dad and I are survivors, know? I want to be the most I can possibly be for him…I’m scared…but the only 2 people who know you are dad and me…so we’ll stick together…we’ll get through this…..i promise you I’ll stand by dad, be there for him, get through it. We’ll see you in the sunshine, the clouds everything else. U’ll live on forever..and I’ll try to make dad as happy as possible….I promise you this. I;’ll do my very best, as much as you would have done to make him comfortable. I hope you are listening to all of this ma..wherever you are. I love you to death. Wish I had spoken to u more the last 2 days….i miss u so much already, I cant bear it….i feel like I’ve lost a part of myself. It hasn’t even been 24 hrs, and it feels lik a lifetime without you. Please please call me from heaven. Please come in my dreams, I need u ma…so mean of baba to take u away from me so soooon . not fair. When I had my first fracture, it was my back – the biggest bone. When I lost someone, it was you – my backbone. Please give me strength from up above, hopefully I’ve done enough good to deserve that. Please look out for dad ma, don’t take him away from me too soon. I love you love you so much maa…the best thing that ever happened to me was being your daughter. I’m so lucky, so privileged to have been born to you. Didn’t think this day would come so soon ma. Too soon. Too early. U left us too soon. But maybe u were ready to go…..i think ur at peace ma…….i hear those words ringing in my head. But how will I ? how will I be ok without u…………its gonna take a while…………….but don’t worry, I’ll take the best care of dad, I can never be as good as you, but as close to you as possible. That’s all I have left, I’m really not ready to lose it. I lost you too soon. Guess I screwed up in my last life. I love you ma I love you amma I love you mom. Mor kali venum ma……..
11:00pm PST : London Heathrow.
Trying desperately to get the vodka out of my system. My stomach is completely out of whack. I try to cover my mouth with the black pashmina scarf I have around my neck and run back and forth to the restroom.
1:00pm PST: Board flight from London to Chennai. In slightly better shape, need to get food into my system to sustain myself
Dec 10, 2014
2:30am IST. Chennai, India. The emotions have been let out. The crying has completely stopped. Now it is time to be strong, calm and composed. J, my best friend, is waiting for us at the airport. He has just arrived from Mumbai. He knows the ins and outs of me, just like Sam. He hugs me, but there are no tears in his eyes or mine. We are focused, we know what’s to come. We know we have to face dad in an hour.
J and I met in 1996 at Chettinad Vidhyashram, the high school I graduated from, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. I spent 2 years there, and I made 2 best friends for life there too. Jay and Kam.
3:30am DLF Garden City, Chennai, India
A huge township that my parents moved to just about 8 months ago, DLF Garden city has a school, a grocery, a clubhouse, about 1000 apartments, and most importantly a community filled with wonderful people. My parent’s apartment overlooks a garden of about 2 acres, and the sunset from the patio is spectacular.
The door is open. The coffin is placed in the dining room. I enter the house and walk towards my dad. There are tears as we hug each other. He has been keeping it all in, and staying strong, waiting for me to arrive. After a heart attack, 2 heart surgeries, 1 angioplasty, and 2 heart failures in 71 years of existence, this man is a survivor, a fighter with so much optimism, it is unfathomable sometimes.
Quite a few other people are there, including my dad’s sister, my mom’s sister, my cousin and my mother in law. My mom’s older sister, whom I refer to as periamma, is shaken. A very diplomatic and rather non expressive person, this time around her face tells me – A very important person has been taken away from me.