What is grief? Grief according to Webster is defined as “deep sorrow, especially that is caused by someone’s death”.
Grief isn’t limited to right after the death. It doesn’t have an end time and neither does it have an expiration date. Thru this whole process I have realized there is no time limit for grief of a loss of a loved one. Emotions envelope you all of a sudden like an unpredicted storm, with no time frame of when it will go away. You are engulfed in the eye of the storm and you just have to ride it out.
It picks and chooses out of the blue when you need a good cry. It could be a song, a phone call, even a thought, that all of a sudden reminds you that your loved one is gone and you will never speak to them again. You will never hear them say I love you, I miss you or even call your name. Through every tear I do believe we are healing and learning to accept the reality.
I lost my dad (papa as I so lovingly called him) last year but can still remember that smile that lit up his face when he would see me. It was enough to light a few hundred candles or so it felt. The sadness in his eyes when I said goodbye was something that broke my heart every single time. Have so many memories like the time he and I took a potential “college trip” to Simla (hill-station in India) to possibly go there for college. I begged him to let me come to the US and in return I promised him that I would come back to Zambia after my undergraduate degree in 4 years. And needless to say that I never went back. Every trip back home since then he would always joke that I broke the “Simla Pact” as that’s what he had called it. He would always hint that he would love for us to move to Zambia. For the last couple of years we even entertained the thought that once our youngest one goes to college we would consider it. The happiness in his face was indescribable just knowing that fact that we were even vaguely considering it.
I remember him telling me stories of his university days at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in India and how one of these days he wanted to take me to Banaras and show me his school. The other day, I watched a movie that was set in Banaras, and a soon as I saw the scene, tears and emotions engulfed me. It was an immediate reaction of guilt that flooded my heart and head that I shall never make that trip to BHU with papa and relive those moments with him.
When our parents talk about their memories, we think they are doing it because they want to relive those moments but now I know that the reason is because they want us to live and remember those moments.
As I sat in the hospital in Johannesburg, when my dad was still recovering and him leaving was not something I envisioned, I deleted all my old voice mails as to make more space on my phone. That darn space 🙁
Luckily for me, my bhai (big brother) made a few videos of Papa while in the hospital and they have been my saving grace. In one he even says my name and that melts my heart every time.
My suggestion is write a few questions and ask your parents some defining moments about their lives, their loved ones, their parents, their words of advice… and capture those moments forever.
I did this… I really did – several years ago but many cell phones later I am not sure where it is. I was only just reminded about the video myself after he was gone. I have desperately searched old computers but to no avail.
This post is not about making you sad but is definitely a reminder that our time with our loved ones ( especially aging parents) is limited. So make that daily call- Yes I said daily. It will seem hard at first and you will wonder what to even talk about. You may say the same things every day, and may irritate them with your stories of how crazy busy life is and them with their same loving advice daily. You mother may ask you each and every day if you are feeling well, or ate breakfast and you once again repeat that you are a believer in intermittent fasting and so you don’t eat breakfast. Its a daily back and forth of the same thing sometimes.
It really doesn’t take much. I always say that if someone told you that they would give you a thousand dollars every thirty days if you call a certain phone number(like a lottery) – most of us would do it. Those thousand dollars would add up quickly. Guess what, these phone calls are worth more than a million dollars to them and in time will be to you also.
One day when you wake up to make that call and you get that sinking feeling that you can’t, is when all the regrets create a Haboob in your head. But those precious calls and that love will carry you on days when those phone calls cease to exist.
What is it about daddy’s and their little girls and the bond they share. I left home at 15, but I knew even back then that in my daddy’s eyes I could do no wrong. I miss his voice, I miss arguing with him, I miss his talking to me for 5 mins (sometimes it was 2). He was a man of few words, and would call my mom like clockwork after those two minutes were up as he had run out of things to say. If he talked to me for longer than that, then I knew my mom wasn’t home. Aah those were the days he was my captive and I would go on and on:)…
I miss him terribly, I miss his advice and words of love. He always wanted the best in people and would hurt when people were hurting.
Parents are our foundation to our childhood but it takes time to realize they are also the cement that binds our adulthood . Once they are gone, you feel a sense of “what now?”, yes it’s a day we all know will come but want to deny. The depth of that unconditional love light dimming is deeper than the black hole. And until one goes thru this – its not an emotion you can empathize with. You think you understand, you think you feel the loss, you think you feel their emptiness but to feel the depth of that diminishing light in your own life is a feeling that one truly understands walking down the darkened hallway rather than being told about.
Memories are made each and every day, for all the ones that can’t make the frequent trips to see your family members – make those moments count thru face time, through those daily phone calls. Let go off the hurt, the egos, forgive and remember to never leave those words unsaid as tomorrow may be too late for them or even you.
It will take but 5 minutes of your day today but it will fill your life jar daily with with lifetime of love.