Every time I see or think of the smiling photo of my father that we had printed after his demise, I'm reminded of the fact that I will never see him smile whenever I enter the drawing room of my parental home from now on, or I will never hear him ask what fish I'd love to eat when he heads out to the fish market, or I will never hear his concerned voice whenever I fall ill or am unwell. There will be no one to hand us the small sweet homeopathy/biochemic tablets for curing the common illnesses in our day to day lives, or to chide us whenever we'd sit or lie down in a wrong posture lest we end up hurting ourselves with the deformed posture, or to remind us to pay our premiums or other dues in time, etc. etc.
However, as I go on about my daily chores and other activities (yes, life has to go on and we have to move on), I'm often reminded of him in the small things he taught us.
Just a couple of days back as I was burning some documents (which felt unsafe to dispose off), I remembered him saying "always pour water after burning the documents to ensure the ashes don't fly all over the place and the fire is completely doused".
He had been a very meticulous person.
He would often urge us to take proper care of our health and exercise regularly as he believed that if we ourselves are not healthy, happy and fit, we won't be able to make others happy or take care of them.
He had been an epitome of responsibility who knew that lives depended on him. So he led a very disciplined life and followed a strict regimen to maintain his well-being despite being a diabetic for a very long time.
All of that changed when COVID took over and his movements got restricted; his chronic kidney disease (CKD) caused by diabetes became worse and additionally, he was detected with Alzheimer's. Watching a dynamic and independent personality like him slowly deteriorate and go through insufferable pain and become completely dependent on others has been a very distressing experience for us.
From multiple hospitalizations to not being able to recognize his family members; to moods of extreme agitation and sometimes aggression; to points of extreme irritability and frustration at his own helplessness (at times when he was cognitively aware and conscious); to not being able to express the extreme physical pains or discomforts he was going through internally; to enduring multiple injections a day to balance and boost his sugar and hemoglobin levels; to incontinence of bowel and bladder movements; to extreme body stiffness, which made it difficult for him to sit if lying down and vice versa; to the time of not being able to hold any food that he ate and become anorexic -- he had gone through it all.
And over the months we had to watch (to our horror) the vitality, the physical and cognitive faculties of a dynamic man, who had been our shelter, our guide, our strength, gradually drain away before us.
Through all this, the emotional strain of watching our father go through so much suffering added with the dread and grief of losing him had started to affect us and our mother. A constant anxiety of the worst would hover over us every passing moment. This had started to affect us, especially our mother, not only mentally but physically as well.
So when the hospital (he was admitted in in his last days) announced his passing away, we felt a sense of relief that he was no longer in pain as death seemed merciful then. It felt very unjustified that a person should go through so much of pain and suffering, more so when that person is someone whom we so dearly love. Of course we wanted him to live longer, but not like this, not in utter anguish where his physical and mental quality of life was severely affected.
While his absence will always be felt, he gave us the time to be prepared of his departure.
Words are not enough to describe a journey of a lifetime but he will always live through us....
You will live through the little things you taught us
You will live through the love and care you showered on us
You will live through your words and actions which will remain with us
You will always be a part of us..'
Have you gone through such mixed emotions of grief as well as relief, maybe also guilt on the loss of a loved one? Please do share your stories with us....