It’s not the Loss, but Aftermath!
My first post on Medium. I am sharing something very dear to my heart. This was long pending in my drafts which I finally decided to post.
Happy Birthday, Yash!
I was barely breathing. I was barely standing there. Strong was the last thing I felt. I didn’t hear anyone because I know what they were saying. I wanted to disappear. I felt trance. Something was tearing me apart. I couldn’t sense myself. I was staring him from 100 meters. He was still, in peace calm even after the heavy machines failed on that 13-year-old trying to bring him back. I knew it was late. We all knew before the white coat monsters could tell us ‘Sorry’.
Dad collapsed, mom fainted and I sighed seeing them thinking was this is a prank? I was imaging if we were part of some bad play as a punishment and that it will all be fine after this bad dream ends. But to my dismay, I am still part of this dream after 10 years.
I was 18, my younger brother, who WAS my only sibling, had died in front of me. In the thickness of shock, I didn’t realize that the aftermath would be more than difficult than this day.
I didn’t realize and never imagined (who would?) that I would spend my initial months in a void. I had him in all my future plans. We had promised to nag each other for a lifetime. But everything seemed so clueless and vague in front of me.
But the life around me didn’t stop. My neighbors and friends were living their lives — going to work, college, celebrating their birthdays and festivals. I had a break in my life. There was vast emptiness all around me.
The experience and going through the aftermath of the death of your closed one is very personal but by sharing my experience, I plan to help at least one person. It takes immense courage to share personal grief, but I am thankful to God that he had given me the strength to overcome this loss through my dearest Kith and Kins who pulled me through this.
All this while I was so unaware what LIFE was. I grew all of sudden, much wiser, calmer and responsible. I had to grieve alone and where my parents couldn’t see me because I had to be strong for them. In fact, I didn’t even have time to properly mourn. You surely can’t do this in India. I spent my initial few days taking care of guests who would sit by my parents side and console us. They would say, “It’s going to be alright”. I so wanted to scream out loud and ask “how”?
“You only have to now take care of Mummy and Pappa. Be strong for your parents”, said people(Visitors). I nodded and refrained from talking, but there was something inside which was killing me, something distorted. I stood in a daze as people streamed by, offering their awkward words and hugs. Be strong for your parents? I couldn’t understand what it meant.
It’s impossible to describe what my parents and I were going through. It was getting difficult to realize that he is no more. The pandit ji (Priest in India) who was called at 10 in the night to perform the rituals had tears in his eyes too. That’s a rare sight as they would have witnessed many death incidents. But he was not the one who should have gone. Every individual who has lost someone feels the same. He was loved by all. Everyone remembers him as a happy, naughty and upcoming cricketer. He would stop by all shops, greet everyone while finally making it to Dad’s shop from home.
Pandit ji started the rituals. I heard someone crying very loudly in the next room after greeting mom. Are we taught to even take care and respect guests even at this critical situation?
Pandit ji asks me to leave to other room thinking I wouldn’t be able to see him go. But Mom had requested pandit ji that I see him for the last time and bid him my final good Bye. He couldn’t deny a mother who had just lost her son. Those words echoed my ears for ten years and they still do.
RAM RAM SATYE HAI (Ram is Truth — God is truth )
He was gone. Only those who’ve had a loved one die suddenly could imagine how it felt. We all take it for granted that our loved ones would be there with us for many more years. I was no different. We would fight, complain, hit and would also hate each other. But that’s how siblings love is described. I never knew I wouldn’t be able to tell him that how important his presence was for us and that I love him oodles. Suddenly with no warning and no explanation he was not there.
I would miss him in the smallest of the thing we did like watching TV and even while sleeping. I don’t have him to pull my pillow anymore. He just vanished from our lives and I would never ever be able to lay my eyes again on him.
I remember carrying him from one hospital to another. “Anna”, I screamed. The vehicle stopped and I directed the auto walla to the next hospital. I held his hand and looked at his calm face and scolded him for not letting us know the pain he was going through. I knew he was not listening to me. “Please fight with me. Call me Moti(Fat) and still I would treat you.” I quietly whispered to myself, “Just damn, answer me and say you were holding your breath. It’s a prank and you are fine”. There was pin drop silence. I hated this silence.
Things and life had to move on. It was difficult for my parents and me to get back to “life”. We didn’t have a life in fact.
I can still imagine his soft tiny cute hands, the touch of his soft shiny hair and his mischievous smile. I can still hear him calling me. I remember and recall his cricket obsession and imitation of Bajji’s bowling in our dining hall. That would irritate me the most. The ball would sometimes bounce back and fall on my food bowl. He would immediately run from there to escape from my threats. But I loved his company. Just like the people that you know and love, every day.
People began asking the cause of his death and wanted to find reasons. To me, it really didn’t matter. But I would sit and converse as if I was really keen to understand the cause. To me, the much bigger issue is that my brother has died. Knowing what caused his death is not going to change that.
The aftermath scared me with each passing day. It was not getting any better. Mom and Dad would watch his videos and see his photograph and cry for hours. But what made happy that they were together. What an irony! Dad would wake up in the middle of the night and scream his name. Comforting a parent, who has lost their son immediately was not possible. It’s not humanly achievable.
I have realized that we really don’t know what to talk and how to behave to people who are going through something like this. I was unreal and fake all this while. But now I know what it is and I have the right words. Trying to assure people by saying, it’s going to be alright hurts even more. Hope, at this point of life, doesn’t help. It is not going to be same and I wanted someone to tell me that.
We need people to empathize and not sympathize. When my aunt visited us after a month she told me that it’s was not going to be an easy path, but we will fight it. I immediately liked her more. She told me the truth.
I became more practical and sensible. We all know that Life is unpredictable, but we don’t realize the fact till life just pulls out something you had held with you so dearly with absolutely no warning.
I didn’t, at least, have the financial and emotional insecurity like others who lose their spouse or loved ones. My immediate family members would help me fight each passing day because they knew that every single day would matter to us. Each passing day seemed long.
There were few realizations and acceptance that helped me come over this. I had to keep telling myself that it was not my fault. I tried my best to save him. We tend to do that in depression. We blame ourselves for every little misfortune that would take place. This is life and the remote of our life is not in our hands. We are the characters on the screen who have come on earth to play their role. There is no recap and /or fast- forward.
I could witness a lot of changes in people’s behavior toward me and my family. I could notice their worried eyes towards me and my life. Friends would feel awkward to come forward and talk to me in college. It made me more uncomfortable. Talking would have actually helped. But I knew I had to handle this alone.
Some even feared coming back to my place where I spent my entire childhood with my brother. My parents still stay there. But even my childhood friends were scared. I found this very hurting. But it was understandable. I had to open the door and let them inside me. Let them know and make them comfortable when I was around and not look at me with sadness.
But there were moments when I wouldn’t allow people enter my personal moments. I have always stayed quiet on this topic. Didn't know people would react.
I would want at times people to let me cry and just comfort me with a hug or even leave me alone if they don’t have the right words.
I can’t even express how thankful I am to my family and friends who have done so much and helped me during these crazy years. I would get mad at smallest of things. Cranky, possessiveness, short temper, and impatience was now my nature. But my dear ones never complained. My special gratitude to my friend, boy-friend and husband, Nikhil who always understood when I wanted my “me” time. He exactly knew when to just pull me.
I chose the right options right ways and hell I am better and at peace with this reality.
“I wish I could just hug you, hit you, be with you and share everything that took place in these ten years. There was that one day when I really wanted you to be with me, and it was when I was getting married. I stared at the entrance of the wedding hall and was expecting to see you. You never came. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday❤”
It’s the not the day but the “The Aftermath”!
I will always miss him, but I have learned the best ways to miss him.
I hear you Yash! J
Oiginally published at jhankarkhemka.blogspot.in on December 23, 2015.