What a man! He would have been 73 today…

7:00pm  Thursday, January 14, 2016
Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai, India.

Don’t go pa, don’t leave me and go.  His organs were beginning to fail. Lying in the transplant ICU bed, he looked into my eyes as I looked into his, and said, without words, “I’m struggling and suffering. I want to go. Let me go”.  I’m thinking to myself with tears in my eyes…I know you need to go and it is tearing me into a million pieces. I thought you would hang around longer for me. It has only been a year since amma left us. But I will let you go and I know for a fact that mom will take the best care of you up there.

If he was articulating his pain and discomfort, it meant that it was pretty intense.  With an extremely high pain tolerance, he was an extremely easy patient in some ways and a very difficult one in others.  A fair skinned, petite, open minded, honest, straightforward, meticulous, generous, short tempered man , he had streaks of OCD with respect to cleanliness:)  Dad would get angry in an instant, but would also get over it, apologize and move forward the very next moment. He was a true firecracker:)

I came out of the ICU crying. I had to. I know I had to let him go. Another best friend. The man who gave me astute pieces of advice that would indeed determine the rest of my life in many ways.

“Marry anybody you want to, be it an African American, or a white guy. But I have 3 conditions, he needs to be a good human being with the same values as you, needs to be well educated, and have the ability to take care of you as well as I have, or better”

He said this to me when I was 17 years old, ready to embark, on a journey, in a country that I had never set my foot on. Those words were like the holy grail to me, and choosing the right life partner is one of the most important decisions I have ever made in my life.  I still remember my mom saying, “Why can’t she find an Indian? What kind of advice are you giving our 17 year old daughter when she is leaving for college ?!!!”
But dad trusted me implicitly. He trusted my ability to make the right decisions in life. He had equipped me with everything he could, in order for me to go out into the world and shine.

The words he uttered the first time we met Sam’s (my husband) folks still keep ringing in my head. “Let’s conduct the wedding of our children, like we are all part of  the HUMAN RELIGION”. This is in fact the religion I believe in today . THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. The universal religion of love, kindness, compassion, honesty, integrity, respect, harmony and peace.

I would have to live without him. I had seen him the last 2 months, and while I saw glimpses of the man I knew, I was seeing sides of him that were difficult for me to see.

4:30pm Saturday January 16, 2016

DNR signed. Dr.Bala, the man who has conducted the most number of heart transplants in Asia, wraps his arm around my shoulders and says, “I know how you feel. I was in my 30s when I lost my parents”. Dad is unconscious and it is a matter of hours before he will be gone. A part of the transplant ICU was converted into a private space so his loved ones could bid him goodbye.

Tears trickle down my face. Dad was my warrior, my fighter and it was my turn to be his.  If I didn’t have his fight for life, I would be nothing. His fight is one that I admire more than anything in this world. He survived 1 heart attack, 3 invasive heart procedures, and a few heart failures among other things in his life of 72 years. Every time he recovered from a heart procedure, his words were “My engine just got rebooted! It is going to be better than ever”.

His personal evolution from the day he was born to his last day on earth is the most remarkable one I have encountered and been so closely involved in. His idealism and his unrealistic optimism put him in various precarious situations, but yet all he did was strive to overcome as much as possible. But on that day, he was telling me in not so many words that Mom was calling him from wherever she was. And he wanted to go be with her. He had an inherently optimistic view of the world, and the concept of destiny was engrained in his brain.  He was the most hardworking human being that I had ever met, and was constantly ready to sacrifice his needs and wants for mom and myself.

7:30pm Chennai, India

A flat line. I knew it was coming and it came. He was gone. He would now be with his favorite person in the whole wide world. His Rajimma. The End of an Era. The end of my life as I knew it. I’d have to start a new chapter, which was going to be extremely different than all previous ones, because this time around,  the people who gave me life were not going to be part of it. But guess what, Kichami and Raji had raised a survivor.

 

 

Kindred spirits laugh about nothing….

Some people are meant to come into your life, for their sake and yours. And when that happens, it is a rather heartwarming experience.  That has happened to be in the last few days with a one year old munchkin, Aria, and her amma.

This amma doesn’t realize that she has a heart, and a heart of gold nevertheless. She belittles her beautiful heart, something that I have constantly stopped her from doing several times ! Anusha is a kindred spirit, an only child whose parents are not in her life. Her journey has been filled with struggles, exponentially bigger than mine (atleast in IMHO). But here she is today, filled with strength, courage and a ton of positive energy. It is not about the struggles you face, but what you become as a result of those struggles that ends up defining you as a person. 

My heart tends to gravitate towards 2 types of human beings. The first type has an open, honest, warm, expressive, uninhibited, down to earth, and ‘say it like it is’ personality. And the second, a down to earth, warm, slightly introverted, private, ‘I’d rather not say it than say it like it is’ type. As you can see, the intersection includes warmth, and a down to earth personality. Of course, these descriptions are not exhaustive, but gotta get this blog out today:)  Anusha definitely falls under the first category, similar to me. And for those of you who believe that astrology has some truth to it, here’s a funny coincidence. We are the same star sign and moon sign in vedic astrology! Laugh away folks, for those of you who don’t believe there is any truth to astrology, that’s quite alright, because in my world, 99% of everything is subjective! That excludes Donald Trump saying “Atleast I’m not as bad as ISIS” in a presidential debate !

Aria, a mountain, a munchkin and beautiful ball of joy, has been raised remarkably by Harry, her daddy, and Anusha. Ok, ok, Anusha, you don’t do most of the heavy lifting 🙂 It has been a relatively easy task managing Aria in the household, thanks to her Amma’s parenting style and the cutest rabbit teeth smiles that I have had the pleasure of witnessing countless times😀

Oh and yes, Anusha is the girl who has made me speak more Tamil than I ever thought possible ! My last 3 days with Anusha in Kirkland, WA takes me back to being with my best friend kamini at the age of 16, at her house in Chennai, India. And this is because, we have laughed, laughed about nothing, constantly and continuously through 3 wonderful days that I will always treasure in my life 🙂

 

Why a Blog?

My super brilliant K chithi asked me – Why a blog? I understand it can be cathartic, but is there anything more to it?

Yes. There is. For an over expressive person like me, pouring my heart out ain’t hard 🙂 However, there are countless folks who are stuck, stuck in denial, stuck in a place where expression seems impossible. I hope to help them come out of their shells. And while I am at it, share recipes, yoga poses, art, travel experiences, and most importantly moments and people  who bring so much joy into my life, that it seems impossible not to live my life as best as I can , to the fullest,  each and every single day. Without feeling, I believe healing is close to impossible. And yes life will never be the same again, but it can be beautiful, and it can make you an infinitely better person. There is so much strength and beauty in tears, in vulnerability, and in revealing the deepest darkest parts that exist within you.

Without darkness there ain’t no light
Without hardship, there ain’t no life
Without sorrow, there ain’t no joy
Without heartbreak, there ain’t no love

Love, love all you can
From every cell in your body
The most you can
And even when you feel like you can’t anymore,
Ask yourself , one more time
Do I have another ounce of compassion within me?

Without rain, there ain’t no sunshine
Without rain, there ain’t no green
Without rain, there ain’t no water
Without rain, there ain’t no rainbows!

So every time you are dreary and low,
Think about the ocean
So soft and calm when it needs to be
And yet so strong, and able to withstand anything
Ask yourself, how can I be
Exactly what I need to be, when I need to be….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yo eternal optimists, when faced with extreme negativity or hardship, remember that the universe is pushing you, even further out of your comfort zone to find joy, peace, harmony and contentment in the midst of discomfort, sorrow, unrest and uncertainty!

Yo eternal optimists, when faced with extreme negativity or hardship, remember that the universe is pushing you, even further out of your comfort zone to find joy, peace, harmony and contentment in the midst of discomfort, sorrow, unrest and uncertainty!

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. Continue reading “Yo eternal optimists, when faced with extreme negativity or hardship, remember that the universe is pushing you, even further out of your comfort zone to find joy, peace, harmony and contentment in the midst of discomfort, sorrow, unrest and uncertainty!”