Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When it rains, it pours...

Over the past week or so, we have had a series' of misfortunes and personal turmoil. I honestly can't believe how much life can change in a matter of mere days and weeks...

On Sunday, we got word that husband-ji's thatha (grandfather) was in a dire condition. Since Christmas, his health has been failing and he had been in and out of the hospital - but he always bounced back. We were just hoping, every time, that he would pull through and just last a little longer, and a little longer...for us. He had yet to meet Maya and we were planning to go to India with her in the Fall.

I got a call from my inlaws on Sunday saying that thatha had multiple organ failure and was given 24 hours to live by his doctor. Having gone through the same thing with my grandparents - I knew it was serious, and I knew he was in his final days. Because doctors don't tell you stuff like that unless it's really serious. Immediately I told husband-ji to get on the next available flight. He thought I was being hysterical and overreacting and he said he'd take a flight the next day. I shouted at him and told him, "NO. You're getting on that flight RIGHT NOW. This is life or death." I was really adamant. It takes 16+ hours, plus a layover to get to India - and he had less than 24 hours to see his grandfather for the last time. Husband-ji caved in and said okay, and we put him on the next available flight, within mere hours. He called me from the airport and told me that I was right to make him go, and that he hoped that thatha would hang on until he got there. I said I was sure he would.

Two hours after his flight took off, I got a call from my dear MIL saying that thatha had died. It was surreal and I was in shock. "But....Maddy's on his way there right now....he's on the flight coming to see him...." I said. And then it sunk in. The pain stabbed my heart. I was never going to see thatha again. Neither husband-ji or me would get to say goodbye to him. Maya would never meet him, her kolluthatha (great grandfather)....and that his life was over. Even though we were given a warning, it just felt so sudden. Nothing can prepare you for a loss like that.

And then I realized that husband-ji was on the plane on the way over. He didn't know that his grandfather had died. I imagined him sitting on the flight, listening to his music and looking out the window, thinking of his thatha, with hope. He had a two hour layover in Abu Dhabi, and I was hoping that he wouldn't phone me - because then I'd have to be the one to tell him. I wanted him to not know about it and have hope and believe that he was still alive, for as long as possible. Because to him - his grandfather was still alive. I didn't want him to feel the throbbing pain and absence that I felt when I lost my grandparents. It hurt so much, and the heaviness of your heart never goes away...I didn't know how I was supposed to tell him.

He phoned me from Abu Dhabi and I had to tell him. It was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do...

(While the last rites were being performed, I lit a candle alongside thatha's picture and an offering of fresh flowers)

He arrived in India at 3:30am and immediately went to his uncles's house to see his grandfather. For (Hindu) Iyengar deaths, they keep the deceased in the house for 24 hours and perform the last rites; and then take them to the cremation grounds. He said everyone was wailing and crying, and he wanted to cry more but he felt he had to be strong for them. They were so glad that he came - his family needed him.

An Iyengar funeral lasts for 13 days, so I told husband-ji to stay in India for the whole thing and more - and be with his family to help them and support them. He can help them with all the funeral arrangements, and his mother needs him by her side, as she is fragile and distraught. Everybody needs husband-ji.....he is a strong, stoic character that instantly gives you a sense of calm. But, I worry about him - I worry about him coping with the sadness...I sense it in his voice. The best thing for him right now is to be with his family during this difficult time. And that is how I am giving my support to him...he needs to be there, he needs to grieve alongside his family, and he needs to take some time to himself before coming back to us.

Before all of this happened, we found out last week that my father has colon cancer. It's in the early stages but it is rapidly growing so he is having surgery to take the tumor out next week. He will most likely have to have chemotherapy.

Both my parents are a mess. My dad is terrified because he has never had any major health problems before. My mum is traumatized because she had stage 3 breast cancer 15 years ago, and she beat it after a long battle. She knows how hard chemotherapy is - and how much mental strength it takes to get through it.

My dad has to have surgery soon, so I have been spending as much time with him as possible. He comes over in the morning and I make him breakfast - steel-cut oatmeal - good for his tummy....and he plays with Maya and reads to her before he goes to work. In the evening, we go for dinner at his favorite restaurant and he watches Maya eat focaccia and practice using her fork. It has been really nice spending time with him....and I wish we would have spent time like this every day...

(My favorite picture of me and my dad)

Of course, I'm always trying to look at the bright side of everything, even though I want to break down and cry. Even though husband-ji didn't get to say goodbye to thatha before he died, he said he was fortunate to be present during his last rites and see him before his cremation. And even though my dad has cancer, we are fortunate that the doctors caught it, and that he is still alive. And that's what matters. We can get through the rest...

So here we are, me and husband-ji....on opposite sides of the world...both having to be strong for our families.

A few weeks ago, we were carrying along normally, doing our daily chores happily....and now look what has happened. You never know when the wheel of fortune will turn....you have to cherish every single day. Things can change in an instant...

The only thing that is comforting me right now is finding solace in my daughter's innocence...at 20 months, life is simple for her. I look at her - she is unknowing, and unaware, of everything that is going on. I give her an extra hug and a kiss, I read her an extra story, and I hold her for just a bit longer before putting her down for the night. I am comforted in her love.

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34 comments

  1. Damn, that's really traumatic stuff :( . But like you said, at least your immediate family's fine, your daughter is safe and both you and your husband are healthy. While it's true that any situation "could be worse", it still might help to think of it that way...

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    1. Thanks Bhagwad, yes I'm just trying to search for the positive...I have to...

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  2. I'm truly sorry to hear about your loss :( and about your father's illness. May the almighty help you stay strong during this difficult time. Hope your father gets better soon. :)

    Take care Alexandra.

    Regards,
    K

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    1. Thank you K for your support and kind words

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  3. That is stressful and traumatic. I am sorry about that and hope both of you feel better over time and your dad gets well soon.

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    1. Thank you....it is hard when it hits all at once...but we are getting through it. Can't wait to reach the end of this tunnel...

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  4. I sorry about your husband's thatha, and your own dad's diagnosis. I hope things look up and soon.

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    1. Thank you for your support, it means a lot to me

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  5. Alex,
    So sorry to hear about your Dad, I hope he gets better after surgery. My heart goes out to you and your Mom and Husband Ji and his Mom and Dad. I know it was sudden for hubby to go but that was a good decision. My prayers go out to you and hubby and both families. My blessing. Melissa

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    1. Thanks Melissa....I appreciate your kind words and support. I am really glad hubby is there, we all just have to support the family members who are in need the most...

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  6. Hello Alexandra,

    I am sorry to read that you are going through difficult times in your lives.

    I hope your dad gets better after the surgery and he beats the cancer. I send you the best vibes.

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    1. Thank you Shaynnah for the good vibes...we are so nervous for the operation coming up, hope it goes well and he has a speedy recovery...

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  7. Hi dear Alexandra. So sorry to hear about your husbands granddad and the illness of your own father:-( Hope all will go well. I can so relate to your daughter keeping you up. our kids are the sign of the world going around and their innocence making us believe that the sky is really blue up there above those dreadful grey skies.... Warm hugs and thoughts your way:-)

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    1. Thanks Eli, yes my daughter is my only comfort right now, thank god for her, really. She just takes my mind off all these things, and her daily routine comforts me. If it were not for her I would be very depressed.
      Thank you for your support and kind words, I appreciate it a lot..

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  8. Everything will be alright.Uncle will be fine.

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    1. Thank you for your hope...I am hoping and praying too...

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  9. From someone who doesn't know you, but has been emailing you:

    Remember that strength for one's families comes in many packages.

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  10. Dear Alexandra,

    This post has touched my heart. My deepest sympathies to you and your family in India and sending lots of love to you and your parents.

    You all will be in my thoughts during my trip to the Durga mandir.

    May love and blessing rain and pour over all of you <3

    Lauren xxxx

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  11. You're a strong woman. I know this can't be easy on either of you. My heart goes out to you and him and both of your families during this time.

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    1. Thanks AP, my strength is being tested but I'm pushing through the difficult times, that is all I can do...as the famous quote says, "you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice"

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  12. Dear Alexendra,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.

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    1. Thank you so much, I appreciate it...
      xo

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  13. Alexandra,

    So sorry to hear of everything that has been going on. By the time this comment lands on your page I hope things have settled themselves a bit more. I understand how things must be. When I was pregnant with my daughter my grandmother-in-law died and a few months after her birth my father-in-law passed away after a long battle with a tumor. There was all this joy mixed in with this sadness and grief and heaven only knows how my husband managed because I was too seeped in my postpartum depression. Hang in there!

    Raina.

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    1. It is so hard, I also lost my grandmother when Maya was 7 months but was too busy with motherhood to even mourn properly...
      In some ways I am thankful that Maya is distracting me, I see hope in her eyes, I feel like she wants me to just keep praying and hoping for the best.

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  14. Hello,

    I recently found your blog - and now I can't stop reading it! Its ace! I'm British-born, of Mauritian (Telugu) parents and currently living in Mauritius.

    I'm really sorry for your loss and I wish you strength and courage for the current situation with your dad.

    Lots of love from Reena xxx

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    1. Namaskaram Reeena! Thanks for reading & I hope you enjoy :)
      I appreciate your kind words...
      xo

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  15. This has been such a difficult time for you. I'm sorry for your family's loss, your grandfather-in-law seems to have been a much loved person. Yet, kudos to the way you are dealing with the situation - you are very brave and positive. I'll be sure to keep you in my prayers, Alexandra.

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    1. Yes, he was just the greatest. I'm going to write more about him & our relationship soon...can't believe he's gone. Wish Maya got to meet him :(
      Thanks for the support, I really appreciate it...
      xo

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  16. So very sorry to hear about your husband's grandfather. And, keeping my fingers crossed that your dad will pull through....so glad they caught it at the early stages!!

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    1. Thanks Roshni, he was just the sweetest man.
      We have got good news about my dad - the cancer did not spread to his blood, but he still has to do chemotherapy but only for 3 months. So we are very grateful. He is so lucky.

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  17. Sorry for your loss, Alex. Stay strong for your dad. He needs you now, more than ever. Maya will love the things you tell her about her great-grandfather. Keep him alive for her. Hugs and prayers to you.

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