By this time last week, little did we know that my mil was living the last few hours of her life. The first of the several phone conversations for the night happened at 1:45 A.M. “Amma is not responding to CPR,” The next call said her lips had turned blue and that they are waiting for an ambulance. The next one said the ambulance arrived and they have called for a local doctor. And then, we learnt she is no more. All events unfolding within a span of 45 mins to an hour. It was very excruciating – hoping, wishing, praying, denying, and then finally accepting. We lay in our beds, too numb to feel anything, and trying to make sense out of the sudden turn of events. Can you shop for tickets? Da asked. On the other end, his sister was at the mortuary, trying to do the needful to preserve amma. My heart bled for the two of them.
Flights were booked for that night. We kept ourselves insanely busy, tying loose ends, not wanting to face or even think about amma not being here anymore. Hari who is grown up enough to have made memories with amma was visibly shaken. We were too distracted to let Ram know, but Hari took it upon himself to explain to Ram. “I felt bad for him amma. I think he should know even if he doesn’t understand” By then I had also spoken to Da’s sister who calmly explained how peacefully amma had passed away – she had her morning oats, had a hair wash, got ready for a doctor appointment, and just when she got into the car, there was a loud breath after which there was little life left.
We tried to find meaning in her death. So many things to be thankful for – we visited her in Nov. which was not so long ago. Da had visited her again last month as she fell ill with multiple health setbacks and she was recuperating remarkably from the health deterioration. Last but not least, she did not suffer, she went when the going was good, isn’t that the greatest blessing of all? As much as we were thankful for these gifts, they didn’t make us miss her any less. That’s when I realized what grief and loss is about – overwhelming sadness, indescribable loneliness, and a sense of helplessness that envelopes you when you think of that person that you can no longer touch, listen and be engaged with.
We reached Hyderabad on Thursday morning. Amma was brought from the mortuary at 10:30 A.M. and the last rites and ceremony took place little after noon. Somehow the environment was not heavy as one would typically expect in a funeral. In fact, there was a certain lightness to it, that was so characteristic of amma when she was alive. I realized how important it is to say that one final good bye – to be physically present, to cling for one last time, to thank her for all the things that were and to ask for forgiveness for all the things that could have been.
Amma always took things in stride. She was never insecure about getting old. She took age related setbacks with grace. She didn’t need a lot to be happy. She somehow was adept at the art of savoring the little moments in life while not sweating the small stuff. She instilled the same attitude in her children, who in turn are causing a ripple effect with their families and beyond. Lucky us…!
Amma, thanks for showing us a different way of looking at life, one that is filled with lightness, grace and love for living. We salute you for this and for a life well lived. We miss you. A lot. Rest in Peace.