An Old Grief


Note: It seems I started writing this back in April but never finished it. I am now posting it as it is. It doesn’t “end” well and I certainly look bad. But do I need to explain how much I loved her and despite “waiting for it”, I didn’t want it to actually happen? All I know is that there’s a big hole in my heart.

I caressed the worn green scarf. It never left her head except when it needed to be washed. Now it’s washed but it would never be on her head again. I never fold laundry. Today, I only did it on the request of my mother. There wasn’t anything else to do either. Little did I know that I would come across her things, and the grief would pour out from my eyes.

She hasn’t been present physically the last eighteen days. She had been going mentally as well for a while. But it doesn’t beat the living together for 26 years.

She had been in the hospital for more than two weeks. Non responsive. Finally, they decided to bring her home. Mentally, she seemed to be gone but this meant we could have her closer by physically.

That Sunday morning, she did come home. She came home one last time to be taken away forever.

An hour into the death, the house started to fill up. Word spread through and on Facebook.

After two days, everyone had pictures to update or stories to share. Stories of her. And no matter how much I racked my brain, I couldn’t remember the last time I was with her.

I do remember her bad mood swings though. She was angry at me not taking her out. But I was glad that she at least recognized me.

The heart grieves but after the funeral, the tears only well up. They don’t come.

Obviously, says the brain. You had already written her off. You had said your goodbye. You were just waiting for the final day, the final breath. You had started carrying your phone everywhere, even the bathroom, in case you got the call. You didn’t want to miss it. So obviously, why are you grieving now. You were waiting for her to die. And now she is, so rejoice.

No, no. No!

Guilt washes over me. Anguished I am. I can’t deny it. I had been waiting.

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Cold Feet


All day my feet were dead cold.

It was the day my grandfather passed away. The one where I was woken up to be given this news.

I couldn’t believe he was gone.

I went to his place. I spent the entire day there. I saw him sleeping the eternal sleep, wrapped up in white sheets, back from the hospital.

I listened to my grandmother lamenting that he had left her all alone. I heard everyone exclaim how he had been just fine; two weeks, last night, an hour ago. They bathed him and wrapped him. He looked serene and beautiful as always. But unlike always, he wouldn’t say anything.

All I could do was stare at him from the corner of my eye, while reading the Arabic prayer from the piece of paper in my hand.

Near evening, when they took him to his final resting place, I hugged my mom, my aunt, my sister – told them it’d be okay. Hugged a lot of other ladies; heard them tell me it’d be okay.

I still couldn’t believe he was gone.

And all day, my feet were dead cold. Just like his.

Five Years


I came home from my (two years late) A-level graduation ceremony and proudly showed him my medal.

He was delighted, and immediately fished out some cash from under his pillow (where he generally kept it) as a token of his love and appreciation.

Although he wasn’t well, when I told him I wanted to take a picture with him to commemorate the day, he insisted on getting up and sitting with me for it.

It’s only been 5 years. It’s already been 5 years.

Miss you, grand father.

 

The Pursuit of Happyness


My sister burst into the room, eyes shining with excitement. Her team had made it to the second round of a competition they were participating in. She was breathless, laughing, jumping. In a matter of seconds, she had already left the room to break the news to our mother.

And I just sat there wondering how to tell her that this was at the best part of her life, that she needs to always cherish this little moment and make sure she has many more like these.

Just sat there wondering if there was a way to stop time; longing to stop time. For her to be this happy. To have this happy. Forever.

So I saved the lecture for another day, went up to wish her luck and said a silent prayer for her happiness.

Please


I see her old and frail and sick. Barely able to articulate anything. Shaky. Disoriented. This is what it comes down to, after ninety years of living: being a child, but without the perks. Slowly disintegrating.

Seeing her feels like a gut punch. Every time. A gut punch of pain and guilt pangs.

I can’t imagine what must go through her mind. I can’t imagine how it feels. Or what my father feels.

God, please, please, please give her health. Please, please, please give both my parents the strength, both physical and mental, to help her as much as possible. Please, please, please.

Sunday Evening Thoughts


We never do much together but the house seems empty without my sister. I’m sure she’ll have a blast. It is indeed the experience of a lifetime.

Everyone’s really glad that her trip is only for two weeks though, including traveling time. It’s hard to admit that the baby of the family is old enough to leave the nest and step out into the world by herself.

Meanwhile, I use all the technology available to me to stalk her to hide the i-miss-her and the small twinge of green. Flight live-tracking and hotel websites for the win!

Grandparents


My (maternal) grandmother sat there, eyes down. I was accompanying her to the eye doctor’s for a check-up. As she sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder at how dejected she looked.

It was heart-breaking. I can’t even imagine losing my eye sight completely and being so helplessly dependent on people around me. But more than that, it was the age-factor that distressed me. This woman, who was one of the strongest I ever knew, sat there looking so sad, so…

And while the doctor examined her eyes and everything and talked to my mother (who was there too), I sat back and wondered how much I owe her.

From a complete rural background and uneducated herself, she made sure that her oldest daughter (my aunt) attended college, despite much resistance. And her husband, my maternal grandfather made sure he helped her as much as was possible. Picking, dropping, teaching, etc. Of course, that meant there was no question that my mom wouldn’t be going to college.

With my paternal grandfather, I found out at a much later age that he was not kidding when he said he only studied till Grade Three. With his father passing away, he took to work with his elder brother to support their family. Sure he only knew phrases of English, but hearing him talk, you’d never know he wasn’t well-learned/educated. And I remember how my paternal grandmother told me she had studied up to Grade Five, which was a big, big deal at that time. However, she sadly explained that since she didn’t have much use for it, most of it was forgotten in the daily life routine & work.

Of course, they made sure that their kids – ALL of them – went to school as much as possible, and learned enough to survive in the world. And all this is an era where education was considered an added bonus, not a compulsion like in today’s times.

No, I’m not making a case for education. I’m making a case for my grandparents, for the three of them alive and the one who has joined his Maker.

I’m perpetuating their memory, their deeds and their struggles. I’m looking at them withering away in front of my eyes. Slowing down a little each day. And I know that I only have limited moments left with them.

And that I need to make each moment count.

I just hope that the little things that I might be able to do for them these days, count an itsy bitsy towards “repaying” them for all they’ve done.

Afterall, I owe it all to them, by the grace of God, and so, SO, much more!

Love & prayers!