14 November, 2016

In the after...

When my kids were much younger and I would read them stories, a lot of which predictably ended with ...and they all lived happily ever after, my daughter would rush to finish it with "in the after". This helps as a headline now.

Source: Google Images
Where do I start...We started with the phase of in the after - each member of the family in his/her own way. It is particularly hard for my Father who has become suddenly lonely, and has a long day to get through. I did not go back to see my mom when she was in the ICU and after that. When Mom could still manage to communicate, she categorically did not want me to go back with kids in tow. By the time I came to know she is no more, it was late...

My brother and his spouse were there with my father and I continued with my life here, feeling guilty and disconnected with all that was happening at home. Dad is never much for talking a lot and brother and me in our entire sibling relationship have decided on a most inopportune time to vent out a disagreement  ....so I don't know how they are coping. All I know is Dad gets uncomfortable if I show any emotions and I have to be careful when I talk to him. I do talk to him daily, conversations which do not extend beyond 2 mins...dad is not one for talking on phone....

It is a bit complicated. this, the etiquette of grieving and the matter of expressing condolence. I myself have found it awkward to convey condolences to those bereaved, just so as it does not come across as a mere formality, to not sound pithy and matter of fact, when after some time I would go back to my life and its demands. Now that I have been on the other side I realise that it is important to connect, even very briefly. You could talk about the person who is no more in whatever capacity you knew them, perhaps mention the last time you spoke to them, what you remember best about them....anything, something....it all helps. I express my gratitude to all those who spoke to me and shared their memories, recollections and times spent with my Mother. or just even asked how I am doing.There are also a few people close to the family who despite having WA, and email, and other means found it not necessary to connect and may best have their reasons for the same.

Rituals give some relief in the immediate after, but the acceptance of the loss and living with it is something each one has to work out for themselves. On the 13th day, I cooked some  of my mother's favourite food. There are days when I am so busy that I don't even think of Mom till the end of the day and I feel guilty for the same. And then there are small, minuscule things which make the realisation acute and I think of her and I find myself tearing up....

I know I can never ever call her and listen to her lovely voice and check on just the right proportion of flours to make dhoklis, or share some new recipe..an achievement unlocked, updates regarding the kids. Or how I love to open her cupboard and go through her sarees, each has a story.... How at one time she had so many pink ones...In the last 2 years I had a habit of talking to her every morning and evening, and now that can never be...Even when she was so listless and exhausted with the disease and medicines, I had the privilege to hear her breathe at the end of the phone, till the time breathlessness took over, till she gradually started to get detached from all earthly matters.....I still update my Father reasonably but let's admit it, it is not the same. I had recorded her voice and have some videos of her with the kids, but am still not able to get myself to play them.

The whole of Diwali was a trauma, not just because it was still raw, her passing away, but the memories ...every Diwali how my parents would get together and clean the house, of my Mom and Dadi getting together and making sweets and savouries.  I made Shakkarparas, a legendary recipe of my Mother, the last time she made those just to show me to make it for the kids...Dhanteras is also her birthday.....I spoke to my Maasi that day, just happy to make that connect...And then there are days when it feels too much.... There was a cancer survivor shown on a  Kapil's Comedy show and I just could not watch the show from there on.....

And then, life is relentless, it's beat marching to a forever progressing time...you have to keep running on the treadmill...so those that are left behind have to get on, finding your purpose and fulfilling your responsibilities .... and somewhere in the midst of this going back in time and recognising moments long gone by....all of this in the after.

13 October, 2016

Full circle.....

A post has been due, it is more than a  month and half of us being here....seems like it's been a lifetime almost.....and the life we left behind, the people too....seem unrecognisable almost. No excuses for not writing earlier, its just that we have been using all that we can to get adjusted to the realities of life here.

Kids got admission into their old school and were happy..... only for Big G it meant getting back with her old classmates and jumping a year. This is a big thing even in normal circumstances but with the language criteria here, sort of compounded. The school is helping out, as is Big G putting her best efforts too.... I am getting more familiar with 5th grade maths in new language and new ways of solving the same problems.

Lil G was lost the first few days of school as she had forgotten the languagecompletly but is slowly picking up words and has a few friends....In fact she was explaining how to solve a maths problem to me which has been taught in Dutch in school. As always, I am not able to give both of time equal time on all days and its a balancing act.

The ghosts of driving caught up with me as my license expired while I was in India and studying for the theory took a lot of my time. I have cleared that one and hopefully with a few other formalities am good to go.

Had a birthday, a milestone birthday.....very low key one. I don't judge it by no of wishes or gifts etc....the latter was zero count this time. Through all this, thoughts been with my mom. Mom has been in and out of hospital twice in the last month and half and has been admitted 2 days ago because of breathlessness. She is in the ICU and needs to be on oxygen. This condition occurs in the last stages of  lung cancer...It has been a week since I spoke to Mom. She is off chemotherapy as doctors state that it cannot be given to her anymore. This has resulted in increased pain, morphine being given and she in a state of being sleepy and dizzy.

I can't even begin to sort out through my emotions. Hubby says I should pack up my bags and take kids and go there but I am not strong enough to see my mother in that condition. And also if I was to go alone it is fine but taking kids along would make it more difficult. I can't imagine how our family will be any more without her...she has been  the binding force and power in the family. I mean how do you even conceive a home without your Mom?

I have been listless and unproductive the last few days...not able to do much of anything. Even though the kids and me spent two full months and some with her this, it seems so less in the scheme of things. There is so much I want to ask her, tell her, learn from her, oh.... forget all that, if I could only have the reassurance of her voice at the other end of the line when I call..We had our difference of opinions...over some  things....but that would never change anything for me....

My poor Father has been braving it as her sole caregiver over the last 3 years. Brother and his wife are there at this moment to give him some support and relief...I am careful not to ping often, with too many questions... and they are of course too busy to update me on their own. Dad days she is in poor spirits off late and I only want her to think of all the good things, all the positives that have manifested in her life, all the people who she has touched positively and who have been inspired by her life, her grace and integrity while being a wife, friend, mother, daughter, sister, doctor,.....And let go of all the negatives, including the fact that she put up a staunch fight against this disease. But it is only her body which will succumb eventually, and not her will.

19 August, 2016

As of now...

> I am constantly checking my to-do list. The more I keep crossing out, more stuff gets added, and I guess I may not get to the top of it...

> My patience with the kids is really going down. I can't blame them as they are in a similar state as mine with no school or structure to occupy them. It gets bad when my already poor packaging process gets undone when they shift stuff around. I also feel guilty that I am not doing enough for them with my own preoccupations. They have become addicted to the TV which is on for almost the entire day in fits and bursts.

> Pleasantly surprised that I am managing decently on my own - decisions, organising, getting stuff done  and I have started giving myself credit for it, instead of any external validations.

> I have decided there is no right or wrong way to do things, do it your way, the way you think is right. Contextualised enhancements to learning can keep happening along the way.

>Mom seems to sound more breathless than earlier when I call. I am not able to provide any comfort to her from far. And it is tough. Also the guilt on being so involved with my own life. Dad with the difficult burden of caregiver...parents seem to be so distant...

> So many questions about going... Whether its a right decision or not perhaps will get to know retrospectively. My big worry is the education of my kids with them having to migrate to a new language all over again. And the necessity of family being together which ties up with a whole lot of emotional, financial variables.  Have heard success stories of kids in higher classes too but there are gaps of learning and concepts which need to be addressed.

>I hate constraints posed on me, who doesn't? And the latest one I am battling is 23 kg for check-in baggage. Well, each each person, their their problem.

>I can't possibly fit in everything to take there and I must prioritize. So my once black t-shirt and almost threadbare pyjama has to stay behind.

>Goodbyes are bitter-sweet and tear me up. Yesterday, it was to Gayathri, the lady who used to cook at Muthajji's,  come in to make chaklis....then the girl who runs the beauty saloon, Hanumantha...who comes to water the plants and always plays with the kids...and often it is me who is more emotional than the other party.

>I have to get going with my list, there it is....fact of life as of now.


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