I've lost track of time. They tell me it's been a week. For me, it feels like both yesterday and a year ago. Quite stupidly, I had assumed that the first day, when I saw them physically carry him out, was the worst. No, it wasn't. Now I know, shock is really your friend. It shields you from the actual monster that's set out to destroy your mind - grief.
It is the dementor that sucks all the joy and happiness out of your life and feeds on your deepest darkest moments. It tricks you into feeling better and then stabs you in the back, so you can feel the pain afresh each single time.
I can't explain why I'm so handling this so badly, though. Everyone around me, even people closest to him and me, have expressed their condolences and have resumed their lives. I'm still stuck here.
Unable to remember what it feels like to laugh. Or sleep. Or to function normally.
What people don't get is that it's not his passing, but his loss, that I don't know how to handle. The irreversible and permanent absence. When I see his glasses around, or his wornout wallet , or the novel he didn't get to finish, or the t-shirt that my mom had set out for him to wear on the last day - that's when it hits, they will never know his touch again.
But what kills me more than these constant reminders is the conspicuous absence of his big smile when I'd walk into his room every morning, or him waiting by the window when I came back from work, or the warm "good nights'' when I turned the lights out.
Grief. Reminding me every chance I get that there's no more him. That there will never be again. No one who will come close. No one for whom I will feel as much. No one who can ever give me the love, care or warmth such as his. That, from now on, I'm absolutely and unequivocally alone.
Thursday, August 25
After fighting an unwinnable battle with cancer, when he couldn't summon one more breath -
he decided to call it a day. He's gone.
I have regrets. That he will never see my story. That he will never know what I could really become. That I couldn't do more for him. Or give him the life he deserves. I'm sure he has an equal number. We didn't get a chance to talk about it. We took him to the ER two days ago, fairly confident we'd bring him back after some treatment, much like every other time. Except, this time, he went to the MICU and never returned.
His lungs had filled with fluid, any oxygen they gave him was not enough, his heart was failing and they said he wouldn't survive the night. He did, that and then the next. But then, as if sensing our anguish and to spare us the grief of having to see him struggle for air any longer, he let go. Even then, not at some ungodly hour of the night but at his usual wake-up time in the morning after a glorious sunrise, so as to not inconvenience us and give enough time to plan his send off.
Caring and gentle and above all, incredibly kind. That was my dad. A big smiler. A big dreamer. A big family man. A big friend. A big everything. He had any number of flaws but they were just never big enough to overshadow the rest of him.
I saw this again at his funeral today, when we kept running out of chairs despite us having had no time to get the message out, how many lives he had touched in some way or the other. He had a generosity of spirit that was vast enough to always include, always extend a hand even to those who weren't always grateful or deserving, and forgive, when things went bad.
But for me, he was more than all of this. He was my best friend, my confidante, my partner-in-crime. I called him for everything. After hearing of a shot-gun wedding in the family, my mom wryly told me that she has no worries on that count because even if I were planning to elope, I would have called my dad for help. I would have. Without a doubt. He would have helped. Without a question.
My failing, as I presume it is, for so many of us, was to assume we had more time. Even otherwise, I suppose we wouldn't have told him any of this. He knew. I knew. That's all that mattered.
Now, I face a world that's lonelier than ever. But if I went complaining to him, he would say what he always said when I spoke of fairness - that life was life. That it was going to be a mixed bag, sometimes happy and joyous and sad and brutal. That I just had to make the best out of it.
So, I will try to do that. I will miss him more than anything else and if there was any spell, any sacrifice, any prayer, anything at all that could give me my dad back, I would do it. But there isn't. So, the best I can do is have him live through me.
At my funeral, I hope to be half the person he was. It would have been a life well lived.