What does grief look like? What does grief feel like? What do you call a monumental blackhole that suddenly appears in your life?
In the last 5 weeks, these questions have been front and centre in our home. Today it is exactly one month since Appa left us. From the moment he collapsed at home to the day we farewelled him finally in the upper reaches of the Yarra river and for some time after that, I was functioning on autopilot.
When a catastrophe like this strikes, people react differently- some turn inward, some break down to pieces, some become risk takers, some put their faith in the divine and yet others like me become objective driven.
Perhaps that last one is due to a lifetime of training – Appa was super planned- everything had to be done properly, no surprises. So much so that he would insist we need to leave for the airport early enough that if we forgot our passports, we could come back to get it and still make the flight…..of course, he wouldn’t forget, since there was a checklist for everything.
Grief similarly is unique to everyone- some rant, some cry, some fold in and others celebrate the time spent well. I find it hard to be maudlin but social expectations of what grief must look like, can fell the most stoic!
Today, a month on, as I try to answer the questions of grief and loss….here’s what they feel like to me.
This trip, I took Amma & Appa to the Dandenong Ranges a few times…..At one point I dropped them near a park entry and went off to find parking. Appa commented that I should drive carefully, because there were two old people waiting for me…. My reaction to that was an eyeroll…. I have since choked many times thinking about that 15 second interaction. Grief…..that is what it feels like, the choking feeling in your throat.
The day before Appa went into hospital, he insisted on seeing a statue of Rishi Sushruta at the Royal College of Surgeons. I parked my car illegally in East Melbourne and we ran into the college to see the statue. We took many photos and Appa shared them with his friends in India. The look on his face as he spoke about the whole episode, the absolute joy….I was thinking of that this morning while brushing my teeth…..I looked up and saw my face. Grief…..that is what it looks like.
Scrolling thru endless photographs, reliving robust “discussions”, laughing over idiosyncracies, repeating phrases like “general feeling of wellbeing”, “ambience”, “oppress, suppress, depress”, missing the elaborate breakfast and vegetable cutting rituals and reaching out to call on my way back home from work….and realising that one mobile number will now not be answered with “Vasu speaking”. That is what you call a monumental blackhole.
But life does go on for those still here, we’ll get thru the days, think about th
e happy times and the silly memories, cry a little at times, find reasons to hug loved ones tighter when we can, pick up the phone and call people who hold a special place on the slightest whim and enjoy what we have more intensely.
No other way to honor a person who believed above all else that best thing about life was that there is always a new restaurant to be tried and a new place to be explored.