Our Last Day Together

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We remember the grief, the pain, the anguish the Almighty has made us experience and forget the blissful moments. We forget to be grateful to the universe for leading us where we are today and see life with all its wonders.

All of this is easier said than done, and it becomes even more difficult when the wound is the loss of a loved one. Death is confusing, raises questions in our heads, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to overcome or deal with the death of a loved one. Losing my grandmother was the turning point of my life emotionally, physically and practically. It made me act on things, face situations I could have never imagined in my life.

A few weeks before my grandmother passed away, on a cold winter’s night me and my friend were in my apartment when I ended up disclosing the fear buried deep inside me that the conscious me was not ready to accept leave alone saying it out loud. I remember telling her how I feared to lose my grandmother, how I felt she will not be a part of my life soon.

The human mind tries to rationalize everything around it, hence, old age, the cycle of life, karma, reincarnation, and God, are all ways for us to rationalize death. I remember after she died I ended up thinking about life and death a lot. I lost my faith in God, I felt God was just made up by humans in grief. I lost my faith in the concept of re-incarnation as again I thought it was just a concept developed by humans to feel their loved ones are never far gone or they will soon return into their lives. I used to be afraid of the dark and feared the existence of anything “paranormal”, but after she died I overcame this fear of the dark. I realized spirits or souls again were just all made-up by somebody under extreme grief and pain to help them feel their loved-one physically around. We all fear death, and we can never know when it will be our last day with our family and friends, what will be their last words to us, will we be able to give them everything they have ever wanted before that day dawns upon us?

My last day with my grandmother seems almost unreal and too good to be true. I used to work in Chandigarh at that time which was 4 hours away from my home. I usually traveled every weekend to Delhi to visit friends and family. That weekend I decided not to go home and stay there as the bus rides used to get very exhausting for me. I canceled all my plans to visit my family and made new plans with my friends there in Chandigarh. But suddenly on Friday (I usually left for Delhi on Fridays after finishing my work) 20th January 2017, I felt like I had to go to Delhi. I thought of surprising my family and booked the tickets for Friday evening. I thank God with every last fiber in me that I made the decision that I will cherish all my life. Had I decided not to visit my family that weekend I would have ended up regretting that day for the rest of my life. I don’t know what it was, God or just the pure love me and my grandmother shared that made me travel miles to the city where she was. I reached Delhi late at night, greeted everyone at home with hugs and kisses. The next morning 21st January 2017, like any other morning at home I woke up and went straight to my grandmother’s room to gossip, chit-chat and then chit chat about chit-chatting. It was my morning routine, of course, because we usually had so much to talk, share, discuss or sometimes we would just spend time holding each other’s hands. I remember feeling her loosely wrinkled oily hands, she had a very oily skin which was very comforting to hold somehow. I even named the winkles on her hands and used to called them ‘malai’. I would sometimes just sit there playing with the ‘malai’ on her hands, touching her bangles and rings and then get a kiss from her every 15 minutes or so. On a bad day, I would just lay my head on her lap while she would massage my head gently. I can still hear the clinging sound her bangles made when she used to cook, read her morning newspaper or just laugh out loud. Her bangles made the same sound when she would eat her dinner due to her Parkinson’s, which she was very conscious about and why she would avoid eating when guests were around. I believe she was the most confident and pampered woman I have ever met in my life. She knew when her Hindi tv soap drama dialogues can come in handy (lol!) to make everyone do what she wanted. I suppose I get my stubbornness from her in a way ;). Oh, the things she has taught me, the table manners, the importance of loving myself… everything… *breathe* …

Coming back to the day before she left us forever, following my morning rituals, I was sitting there beside her in her room when she tells me how much she loves me and that I was not just her granddaughter but, her best friend… And though her only wish before she’d die was to see me get married, she told me she will not be able to attend my wedding now. I told her not to say that and reminded her how just last week (like almost every other week) she told me she is not going to die before attending my wedding. She just ignored this remark and went on telling me how she wanted me to be happy and married soon. She said, even if she cannot be there for my wedding she would be there blessing me.

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She had been sick for a couple of months now, though she has always had health problems and did not walk much except for taking her bathroom breaks, but, this was different, she had started hallucinating, forgetting almost everything, she started losing the charm she always had on her face. She was a fighter, a few years before her death she was hospitalized and had to go through some medical procedure, the doctor came out and told us she’s fine because of her will to live. Her love for life kept her going through all these years but during her last days, you could see that will fading away. She always said ‘I want to be alive till Tukku’s (my nickname) wedding’. But that day, I realized she did not want to hold on to life, she wanted to let go and release the pain. On Saturday evening, I and my Mumma planned on re-decorating the furniture in our living room and to get new cushions that would go with the new sofas. Mummyji wanted to see how the living room was looking so after I and Mumma were done re-decorating, I clicked a picture and went to her room to show it to her. Soon, my Chachi came to see her. And then while I was playing with Lulu (my baby (pet dog), she passed away on 28th September 2019), I see mummyji, Mumma and Chachi singing songs. Mummyji was singing the song she sang for Daddyji on their honeymoon. Then dinner came, she hadn’t had chapatti for weeks now, but that day she asked my Mumma to make her eat and she finished her chapatti. She called me meanwhile asking my Chachi to give her a shoulder massage, I was in the living room playing with Lulu. She asked me to click a picture with Chachi giving her a massage and Mumma spoon-feeding her dinner and she said she wanted a picture with her daughters-in-law. I showed her the picture I took and she commented ‘I look so old eew!’…

It was late at night, 2 am 22nd January 2017, papa knocked on our door (me and my sister’s room) and came inside to tell us all choked up, ‘Beta… Mummyji..’, he couldn’t finish his sentence and was in tears. We both ran to mummyji’s room and saw she was just lying there. She wanted to see everything happening in my life but her health did not support her wishes and she knew she had to let go. She passed away at around 2 am on Sunday, 22nd January 2017. I remember the denial that I was in, grief and shock hit us differently, I did not understand how to react or act. I asked my mother if we should call a doctor to which she replied, ‘No beta, the doctor cannot do anything’. Guests started coming over and I just sat there, crying and laughing while I held her hand. I kept looking for signs that she might still be breathing. Every minute, I felt like she was breathing. But, she was gone… long gone. I remember laughing loudly thinking about every joke she cracked before she left us. Grief makes us do strange things, things we can only know once we experience it. I still cannot understand why I started laughing and crying at the same time. All the moments when I found her to be hilariously funny  (we all have great senses of humor) replayed in my head while I held the hands of my grandmother and felt her ‘malai’ one last time. Anger, laughter all of these emotions at once…

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More than anything in this world, I would wish for her to come back. More than any material gain in this life I would want to go back to that time and make her stay. Go back to the world where she existed. The world seemed so different then, I was so different and much simpler back then. Today, I still wish for her validation for every decision I make. I miss her eye of judgment and approval. I miss the faith I had on someone or something after she approved of that person or situation. Everyone knows we all have to die someday, we know someone somewhere loses a loved one every minute, but when this unfateful fate dawns upon us, we never expect what comes next. We change as a person completely, see life differently, lose the childlike innocence we all have had alive in us. The first thing I realized about death was after a person is gone, they are just gone, they are not around you anymore, there’s no soul around you no part of that person that you can feel, see, smell or touch. I would trade anything in the world to bring her back today and show her where I am, things I have achieved, new clothes that I’ve bought, people who are now there in my life… anything… Now all I can do is keep her alive in my memories. Life is short, unpredictable, I am very thankful I was there with my grandmother on her last days and that I got the chance to tell her that I loved her.

#mother #death #positivity #grandmother #grief #strength #grandchildren #stress #love #Mind #loss

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