A couple years ago my former boss once told me, “I think throughout your life, you will always face challenges… life will not be easy for you. You will face hardships.. probably a bit more than others. You have to get used to that.” At first I took it with a grain of salt… it was so vague and pessimistic that I wanted to quickly brush it off. However, he, apart from being a great businessman was also a well-respected Hindu priest in his community – and I valued his opinions a lot. He was gifted with some kind of psychic ability to foresee or even look into someone’s future / aura, etc. And he knew I would face layers and layers of challenges. Although he also called these challenges my “training”… I never really knew or understood what he meant. But as days go by, his comments, thoughts and opinions of me are beginning to make sense.
During the holiday season of 2004 the first of “important” deaths in my family happened… my paternal grandma passed away. A month later, my dad. Five months later, my maternal grandma. Yes. Three very, very painful losses in one year.
For a long time, I was almost embarrassed to share this. I did not want to be singled out as the poor girl with so many deaths in her life. I wanted things to get back to “normal”.. but that was no longer my reality. It all changed. It was hard enough dealing with my father’s loss, but to add both grandmothers… I did not want to see the pity on the faces and in the eyes of those I shared my family stories with. Their faces were like mirrors – and the sorrow I felt being thrown back at me without words was the painful life I wanted to run away from. Well you see, sorrow is something you can never run away from. When death visits your family – it turns your life upside down about 100 times over. You just have to learn to ride it through… find your balance. The road is unpredictable, but you just have to find a way to stand up…. and you hold on to something stable. And you hope… that it will just get better. You keep doing… and hoping. Hoping.
My mother throughout these years has been and continues to be a great source of spiritual hope and emotional strength for me. Watching her complete surrender to her faith keeps her healthy, strong, and full of love and life. You would imagine a woman who was orphaned and widowed in the same year – would hook on to bitterness, anger and negativity for the rest of her days. She dealt with her sorrows.. but she accepted that her losses were in God’s time. It made sense to me to accept that these deaths had reasons only God could understand – as we would never find the answers if we relied completely on human understanding. No human on earth can tell me or even explain why these deaths happened so close in days to us. No logic can explain that. And no reason.
It has been three years since that happened. This weekend marked another cluster of deaths in my mom’s side of the family. My uncle, Ernie, diagnosed with cancer (and six months to live) a month ago and my grandma, Diche, had organ failure (from old age) both passed away a day apart this weekend. They were mother and son. It blew my mind hearing this news, even though we have been “expecting” their deaths and they’ve been sick for a while. But even with this second wave of passing lives, it is still shocking news. However, having been through cluster of grieving before… it has for the most part gotten easier. Easier is not the right word, but it will suffice for now. My family is constantly reminded of how short life can be — and how precious it is… and somehow it continues to draw us closer. I am grateful for this. Going back to hope…
So, in my daily life I try hard to pump love, hope and just goodness into my veins. I try hard to shower family and friends with love, good thoughts, and support. I try hard to pump as much goodness to forget just how painful it has been. I try hard to focus on what they love and what they share. And I was reminded by a friend lately that I shouldn’t try too hard. That in my trying I may even appear fake, and that I may not even believe in the things that I say, love and like. But my life right now has to be fluid. For now I have to adopt the properties of liquid in order to endure the challenges and curve balls being thrown at me. I cannot live a life of rigid rules and definitions as I do not know what formula will even work to make things better yet. And in the deaths, sorrow, challenges and hardships that I am experiencing – each lesson from them begins to redefine me. The deaths have forced me to grow… and I feel as though I am trying to fit in …again. These painful experiences are agents to my second adolescence. From death comes life; and life into death… and the cycle continues. But while I’m here on earth.. I will continue to redefine what goodness is in my life, what hope is, what faith is, what love is… and in those redefinitions I will find answers. And from those answers, more questions. But from that understanding, I know I will find peace.
I continue to feel grateful for the ride – for all the challenges, lessons, hardships. I am always grateful for the family and friends I have been given the chance to grieve for and to love. I know it may sound weird to be grateful to have been given the chance to grieve for them, but in grieving you remember their greatness, their goodness, their love and life. And in the sorrow and tears of those left behind – you can always find the love that the deceased has cultivated throughout their life. And I want to cultivate as much as love as I possibly can while I’m still breathing.