Goodbye, Daddy!

06 Sep 2022

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March 5th, 2022. ~ 6.30 AM PST.

It was a Saturday. I would usually be asleep at this time.

Today felt different. I woke up early. I couldn’t sleep. My mom called me from India. She never calls me in the early morning. I got on a video call with her, watching my father struggling with his last few breaths. Lying in bed, unconscious, unable to recognize me. His eyes slowly turned white. Facial muscles relaxed. Jaws dropped. Each breath is slower than the previous one. My mom had to attend to my father. The doctor was on his way. I disconnected the video call, anxiously waiting for the next one.

In the last couple of months, he could not talk much. He would show three fingers, wishing he wanted to meet all three sons for one last time. He knew his end was near. We did not. Meeting all three of us was the only thing he ever asked from us in his entire life. The Only Thing. But, I wanted to finish a software project in my company and then go to India in April, confident that he would be fine. I even stopped my elder brother from going to India. Thinking, our families can travel to India together. Yes. I prioritized a software project over my father’s last moments. I didn’t know.

A few minutes later, my mom called me. I could not understand the words amidst her loud crying. I think she said, “He’s no more”. None needs to be said. Her crying explained everything.

I knew this was coming but could not accept the reality. I called my elder brother, informed him, booked the tickets for both of us, and started a day-long journey back to India. My elder brother was crying all along the route. My younger brother was in India, doing the rituals alone, without us, the brothers.

We reached home the next day around 3.30 AM IST. My father was lying in an icebox in the living room. My mom and all the relatives were sitting around, tired of crying for over a day. My elder brother was broken into tears. I looked at my father for signs of life. I don’t remember how long.

Is he still breathing slowly, and these idiots could not see it?

I was with my father throughout the rituals. When I lifted him, his body was chill, heavier than usual. His hands were wrinkled, void of life. The same hands that rubbed my feet to keep me warm during a fever, the same hands which fed me food whenever he got time, the same hands which held my vomit when I was sick, the same hands which carried me everywhere we went, the same hands which disciplined me when I was naughty, the same hands which were working non-stop, almost all seven days to get us out of poverty, the same hands which helped countless other suppressed people, the same hands which were paralyzed for twenty years, still held the family together. Those hands are gone.

The walk from our home to the cemetery felt like an eternity. They fed his body through the blazing fire, head first. It was hot, many feet away from the fire. I could feel the burning sensation throughout my body. This is the end. There is no way he can come back to us. The reality hit me. The pillar of our family is gone. All I could do was breathe.

All his friends and our relatives paid their last respects to my father. They came. They cried. They talked. They went home. They became normal.

I could not cry. I could not mourn. I could not eat. I could not sleep. I could not get out of bed. I could not forgive myself for not being with my father and family at the most crucial moment. I become irritated with everything all the time. I started getting into arguments with everyone I met. I am constantly filling my head with negative thoughts. I felt I am right and everyone else is wrong. I could not stop. I wanted to stop.

I was introduced to a therapist Dr Shalini, a friend of my uncle. I took six sessions of EMDR therapy with her. The treatment helped unburden the guilt and resentment with myself and allowed me to see the world as it is. I accept that my father is gone, and we, three brothers, have to keep the family united for the rest of our lives. No therapy is a magic bullet. It can show you the way, but you have to walk. I do occasionally blurt out at someone for no reason. But I’m getting better.

It took me five months to write my last respect to my father, this blog. One regret I would never get over is that I never expressed my love to my father, not even once. I wish I had. Please don’t be me.

Express your love while you can.

I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.
I love you.

Goodbye, Daddy!

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