It has not been an easy two months. There are tremendous responsibilities my brother and I have had to adopt in the absence of my father.
It, sort of, comes as part of the contract of growing up.
Providing the necessary documentation after waiting in long queues of customer service representatives and negotiating bill settlements is the easy part. Fulfilling the role of a caregiver to a terminally ill parent and administrating the functioning of their estate after their passing is something that can’t be taught within the four walls of a classroom. (This is why I have no enthusiasm for pursuing further degrees. Life tests us with ample examinations.)
Everyday, there is a new challenge but I am up for it.
When a county lawyer wasn’t responding for weeks about filing certain forms, I Googled a few catch words about them. I realized they were self-executing waivers that could be completed ourselves and notarized for free at the local library.
Brief taste of progress.
My mom can’t do much talking on the phone because she will start weeping at the mention of her husband’s name. So I take the lead, at times, becoming Mrs Sharma herself.
Ah, US and India.
How utterly charming and suffocating the experiences in both nations can be.
Just a month ago, I came back from the land of delicious sambhar dosa, old friends and cousins who invoked sweet nostalgia, and a few asshole relatives who invoked nothing but repressed barf.
Now back in the States, my friends are visiting me in the same house that my dad picked out 6 years ago and invested his precious time and soul into making it our beloved home.
I am back where I started. One feet firmly resting on either land; though, my heart is now leaning towards the one that beckons with tastier food and a loving groom 🙂
This is not the first time I feel like I am picking up the pieces of my life back together. And having lived for some 25 odd years, I can attest that it certainly won’t be the last. You just become more resilient in doing so. Or perhaps, the correct choice of words is “numbing of the senses”.
I often find myself on random forums of caregivers for parents with cancer. Some went on to being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, an affliction reserved for survivors of wars, because of the prolonged ordeal and loss of a loved one. I experienced remnants of that from the many nights we would have to run for emergency room visits, so much so that I would anxiously wake up in the middle of the night to check on my dad, because my body was normalized to do so.
I guess you could say I was living vicariously through my dad, though he was more of the braveheart warrior than I ever could be.
Thankfully, those erratic sleep patterns are not the case anymore. I still have “milder” symptoms of taking deep breaths to avoid crying in public, say from the sight of my kindergarten student hugging her father after school, or a grandfather playing with his daughter’s baby at a park. My tear glands have to work on overdrive to reserve such tears for only moments of privacy. I am certain there are folks around the world who experience the same; tears being the anguish relieving mechanism that is so symptomatic of humanity. Weep away my friend! 🙂
The mind is an amazing apparatus because the moment you force yourself to NOT think about something, say your dad smiling at you in his final hospital stay, it repeatedly shows you those images. Thoughts are not entirely in our control; an invention of the subconscious. Meditation has emboldened me to let them come and go with ease.
My common reaction in the most serious of situations is to joke, often about myself. The mind shifts from hurt to humor. It is the same analogy of Rancho suggesting that “Yeh mann bahut darpok hota hain. Isko bewakoof bana na padta hai” in 3 Idiots. Top comedians like Amy Schumer and Russell Peters employ this self-deprecating style of comedy, which does wonders to eliminate your ego.
The Healing Process
Healing is akin to winning battles with yourself. It involves acceptance of reality on many fronts and there is a great “Sleepless in Seattle” quote to go along with this. Tom Hanks, who loses his young wife to cancer, calmly speaks to his 8 year old son in the beginning of the movie.
“Mommy got sick and it happened just like that. There was nothing anybody could do. It isn’t fair. There’s no reason. If you start asking why, you’ll go crazy.”
[Geet in Jab We Met refers the same logic when she tells Aditya – “Kyun ka koi jawaab nahi hota hai.” Translation- There is no answer to satisfy repeated whys. As you can tell, I am very filmy :)]
We can empathize with the sorrow of another soul, but I endeavor not to compare tragedies. My closest friends, one who lost a mother from a car accident and the other who lost her father from a sudden stroke in her teenage years, carry the scars of their own battle. Yes, others may have it worse than us, but that does not mean we invalidate our individual grief.
While we, as mere mortals, have little to no control of many circumstances (often relinquished to matters of destiny and faith), we can exercise our willpower. If we expend our creative energies to create something new, say by cooking, writing, or dancing, it can be tremendously empowering. My blog was a product of my dad’s initial diagnosis.
For my close friend, it was her new fitness regime that helped her take back charge of her life.
For my mom, it is her new job to teach in our local school district.
For me, my power stems from my jump-rope.
You see, here is this one simple instrument that I can utilize to keep fit. Its motion depends entirely on the movement of my body. The light twirling of the wrists, the jumping, criss-crossing, and gentle swaying of the hips. That is all in my control.
It is my best example of living in the present. The release of endorphins isn’t too bad either!
Wind, rain, or sunshine, I can jump rope and dance to any beat.
And I’m getting better at it everyday.
Here, take a look! 🙂