I am reading a book about grief and grieving children. Sometimes I think that with the passage of time, we will get over it. If I am strong enough. If I am cheerful enough. If I keep a positive outlook and greet everyday with a gung-ho attitude…we will reach a space where we are no longer grieving.
For a while, I hated the idea that my children were without a father. My first impulse being to do something, to find something–to reach out and fill up that gap. But slowly, I am coming to recognise that there is no filling up that gap because it is already filled. My kids are not without a father.
Yesterday, I learned that one of my friends had lost his father in a brutal wrenching away of life. This friend was 19 years old when it happened.
I told him about my youngest son weeping over the fact that he could no longer recall the sound of his father’s voice.
“It’s okay,” my friend said. ( Youngest son was listening in as we were talking on skype.)
“Your memory becomes a bit vague. You forget how he sounded. Sometimes, you don’t remember what he looked like. But you look at photos and you remember the feeling. The feeling is the most important thing.”
It dawned on me then that no matter his physical absence, their father will always be present with us. He is here in our memories and in the feelings that we have when we think or talk about him.
I think of conversations I’ve had with the kids–about boats and distant shores and rowing together.
My kids are not fatherless. Their Dad is always with us. In memories and in the feeling.
Today, someone asked me what it feels like.
“I mean, you lost your husband and then now you’ve lost your sister.”
How do you put into words what it feels like to lose the other half of your heart? She was always there–my sister. In the darkest periods of my life, I hang onto the thought that my sister was always there. She was witness to my wildest dreams and imaginings and she was the person I confided in the most in times of deep despair. She loved me steadfastly even when she didn’t agree with the choices I made and even when it grieved her to see me walk away from the path that was familiar to us both.
I have a memory of my elder sister from when we were in grade school. Back then, going to school meant climbing down the mountain path to the gravelled road and then a 10-15 minute hike to the central school. I was always slow back then and a little bit of a spoiled child.
(My sister, being much quicker on her feet always was at least a few feet in front of me. )
In this memory, my sister has reached the bend in the mountain path–a couple of meters down from home. I am still at the top of the path. It had rained in the night and the path was a bit slippery and being the scaredy-cat that I was, I wanted my sister to come back and help me down the slippery slope. She, on the other hand, was already impatient to go to school because the first bell had already rung.
I remember my sister telling me to hurry up and I remember crouching there and crying for her to come get me.
Finally, she came marching back up the mountain slope. I still remember the look on her face.
Regardless of how aggravated she was, she helped me down from the top of the slope. She held my hand until we got to a place where the earth was less slippery.
My heart aches.
I have so many memories. Of stories shared in the dark of night after the lights went out–of listening for the crunch of gravel outside our bedroom window–of running up and down the mountainside.
There are not enough words to say what it’s like.
Yesterday, my neighbour brought me lights for my sister. I made a spot on the living room table with these roses that seem to keep on blooming and a print of a happy selfie from the time my sister was here with me.
Loss is an ache inside my chest and it takes a lot of effort to keep on going.
One never dreams or hopes of losing their sister. I never thought or imagined that I would lose mine so soon. How is it possible?
My sister who I laughed with and cried with. The one I fought with and made up with. My sister who always won the contest over who got the read the books first…because she was (of course) the eldest. My sister who irritated me and encouraged me; who challenged me and didn’t hesitate to confront me. My sister who lives in so many of my stories; whose voice I hear when I am on the verge of throwing in the towel. My sister who refuses to let me give up and surrender.
My sister who started the bookblog together with me; who made me understand that there are readers who just want to enjoy a book and who see its flaws but love it anyways because that’s how they are.
I remember fiery discussions over the dinner table, pillow fights in the bedroom, whispers in the night when the lights went out, secret conspiracies, mad adventures.
My sister who saw no need to conform to societal expectations but who chose to be exactly as she was.
My sister who loved and forgave wholeheartedly. My god. I shall miss my sister. There are not enough words for the agony of this loss.
I can only go on and do as she would tell me to do. Live because you have your sons. Live because you must write. Live because your path in life is not yet done. I must live because she wanted me to. Someday, I too will pass through the veils. I will see her then.
Heartbreaking news reached us on Sunday evening. My beloved sister, Weng, passed away after a bout of a pneumonia compounded by problems with her liver and her blood. She went quickly and did not suffer long.
I have no words for agony.
Loss followed by loss. Sorrow upon sorrow.
My sister has gone from this world.
This is going to be a bit of a weepy blog for a while–the thing is, it’s just as if the world has been turned upside down. I move from being calm and collected and logical to being weepy and emotional and a total mess to I don’t really know what I am feeling. There is an absence where a loved one used to be.
My youngest son whimpers in his sleep. My eldest son, maintains a stiff upper lip. As for me–thoughts slip through my fingers and I find myself struggling to hold onto the thread of conversations. I don’t wish to burden others with my pain, with my grief, with my tears. Who do I share this agony with?
When people tell me that I am still young and who knows what will happen a year or ten years from now–I am struck dumb. I am still coming to terms with my sorrow. I am still trying to wrap my head around our loss. Does it get better after a year? Does the pain of loss diminish? Do we ever stop waiting for the key to turn in the door, for the familiar footstep, for the gentle greeting, for the words: I’m home?
Food tastes bitter. My sleep is interrupted.
I cannot imagine moving on. Right now, in this moment, it feels as if the world is standing still. The surface of my skin feels raw. I am an open wound.