It has been five years since I lost my mother to breast cancer. I have never accepted this publicly on this blog, keeping her alive in imagined conversations and shared moments that will never again be. But she doesn’t linger anywhere—not in her bedroom back in Delhi, not in the photo albums of my birthdays, not in her old clothes that I have clung on to and insist on wearing now and then. She lingers only in my memories, in a big room in my heart that she owns for the rest of my life. And while I will never let go of her, I have come to realise over time: it is essential to deal with loss.
In the early years after her passing, I looked for her everywhere. I have never seriously believed in ghosts or spirits, but I figured this was different. Perhaps, she would find a way to come and visit me from time to time, sitting herself down on the swing in our balcony on which we would spend many a summer evening. When I spotted a woman who looked like her in a Durga Puja pandal, it took me a ridiculously long time to compose myself. But while I fooled myself into believing I heard her once or twice, calling out from the ceiling or sneaking behind cabinets, she never came to meet me.
My Mom’s passing affected me in more ways than I can count. She was my best friend, accompanying me to bookstores and movies, chatting with me till the early hours of the morning about career woes and “deep” philosophical questions, advising me on shoes and clothes, never forgetting to check on my meals and naps even when I started living in other cities for school and work. The house would be decorated with balloons and confetti and smell of freshly baked chocolate cake each time I came home on holiday; my “big bag of snacks” would be choc-a-bloc with wafers, candies and all things delicious. Now that she is gone, I miss my treats. I miss conversations with a keen—really keen—listener on the other side. I miss my friend.
Five years have passed, but I find myself tearing up when I see old videos, my Mom energetically getting things ready for my eleventh birthday party. I dream of her often; curiously, in my dreams, she seems well attuned to my present life situations, and we usually go on fun trips around the world, to places where none of my current problems can follow me. Sometimes, I wish the world of dreams was the real deal; I am still not convinced that it isn’t, and the hours of wakefulness a mere mirage.
Oh look, I had intended this post to be about dealing with loss, and instead, I have meandered and gone astray. Perhaps, it is foolish of me to assume I will ever “deal” with this loss that has seared my heart and changed me permanently. Indeed, the primary “dealing” I have done is accepting that my Mom will always be a part of my soul, even if I cannot see her as an apparition or hear her voice carried by the wind. She is there somewhere, looking out for me when I face new challenges, break down when things get impossible to bear, and painstakingly gather the courage to face the world yet again.
I haven’t dealt with my Mom’s death. But she has done it for me: by telling me I don’t need to since she never really left me. She never will.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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