On losing your parents

On a scorching summer day in May 2004, I lost my parents to an accident.

I froze when I got the news but contrary to the typical belief, it did not feel like a punch to the stomach. People started pouring in as my parents lay dead in the hospital. Everything was loud and plangent. I was surrounded by people and I was drowning. The distance between us grew wider as I was getting pulled into a sea of shock. The noise was overwhelming but as I traversed, the sounds of voices were muffled.

Next few days are blurry in my head but I remember the people, their eyes full of pity, spilling words they didn’t mean. People tend to say just about anything when they feel sorry for you. It wasn’t very long before I was completely on my own.

I had never experienced a bereavement of this kind. Once I was alone, a glut of emotions swarmed through me. Emotions that were sprawling invisibly, deep underground they were distorting into elaborate passageways that I never knew existed. I cried. I cried for every moment that I will not get to spend with them.

And yet, I didn’t realise the intensity of what had happened.

The real weight of my grief hit me in small doses at random stages of my life. It hit when my friend’s mother was about to visit him and he went into a cleaning frenzy. It hit at various times when multiple co-workers were greeted by calls from their parents wishing them birthdays. It hit when my friend turned to her father for tax advise. And it just kept hitting. Each wave hit me a little bit harder.

With their passing, a part of me got lost in a dark abyss forever. Nobody will ever know the person I was when I had parents. Everyone I know, knows only their absence and at times its hard to remember that it was a reality when my parents and I coexisted in this world.

The picture of them in my head is metamorphosing from a crisp photograph into a hazy watercolour. The details of their faces are becoming less distinct and I no longer remember the sound of their voices. As the edges of my limited memories are getting fuzzy, I realise that I am forgetting them.

It’s scary.

Over a decade later, I have finally realised how grievous it actually was. I learnt my loss as I went along. Not only did I learn to live without parents but also learnt what it means to be living without them. I have learnt to live with it but I’ll never get over it.