orphan (says the heart)

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You need to write a blog.

Those words have been echoing in my mind for weeks. But every day procrastination overtakes me. I am naturally a procrastinator. Most people know that. But this time is different. This time I’ve been procrastinating on my writing because of the subject matter at hand:

the death of a parent.

On Friday, August 27, 2010 I lost my Nani, who was very much a parent to me—even more avidly than my actual parents. Cancer and several other health issues are to blame.

Grief is a strange (and, in my case, very foreign) concept. I’m practically an expert when it comes to other emotional phenomena: anger, bitterness, excitement, even depression. But grief is unfamiliar and therefore scary.

In all honestly, I half-expected Nani’s death to send me back into depression; I know I’m in a completely different place (both spiritually and emotionally) than I was in 2007, but I guess I thought that the shock of losing someone I loved so dearly would drive me back into that deep, dark hole again. Fortunately, though, it didn’t.

I’m not depressed, just confused and…well, lots of other emotions I haven’t really processed yet. I’m often quite scared to be alone with my thoughts, because whenever I am, I find myself missing Nani so much that it literally, physically hurts. I finally understand what that phrase means: “I miss you so much it hurts.” But I wish I was still ignorant to it, ‘cause I’m telling you: it sucks. Am I in denial when it comes to my feelings? Perhaps. Will time eventually break/heal me? That’s for God to know.

And how is my relationship with the Lord? That’s a touchy subject. Let’s just say that grief has a way of coloring your faith in hues you didn’t even know existed.

I still love Jesus, but—to put it lightly—I’m frustrated with Him. However, I promised myself that no matter what, I’d stay with Him and tell Him how I really felt. After all, what’s more meaningful in a relationship than total transparency and honesty with your companion? I could’ve cut myself off from Him like I did a few years ago, but I refuse to wander down that path again. Besides, He’s a big God; He can handle my brutal honesty.

At this point my main focus is to survive each day, despite my grief. Not an easy task, by any means. But thank God for coping strategies! What is my current “coping” strategy, you ask? Old Hindi films. Haaaa!

When you really think about it, though, it makes perfect sense: Nani was a daily—and very vivid—reminder of my Indian roots, something I otherwise ignored (sometimes unintentionally, but other times purposefully). For example, I always called her “Nani”—the Hindi word for your mother’s mother. If I really wanted to, I’m sure I could’ve called her “Grandma”; after all, I call my mother “Mom” and my father “Dad.” But “Grandma” just never seemed to fit her. Nor did it fit the relationship I had with her (a relationship that was definitely driven by some cultural undertones). So she was and will always be my “Nani.”

Also, these movies bring back memories of a better time; I remember being five or six years old and watching them with my mom and Nani…and then running around the house, singing all the songs and reciting the dialogue! While everyone else was watching The Little Mermaid, Star Wars, and The Princess Bride, I was watching Amar Akbar Anthony and Hum. (Ok, fine, I watched the aforementioned English movies, too, but they still pale in comparison to the aforementioned Hindi titles. Am I biased? Maybe a tad bit!) Even now, though, I can hear Nani’s amused laughter in my head when the oh-so-amazing Amitabh Bachchan does something ridiculous on screen…oh, what I would give to [literally] hear her laugh again!

And finally, the most shallow reason for making this coping strategy my personal method of choice: Amitabh Bachchan is effin’ hilarious. Seriously, Hollywood’s finest comedians–past and present–have nothing on this guy. I’ve been watching several of his flicks from the 70s and 80s, and all I gotta say is: Eat your hearts out, Steve Martin and Betty White! And thank you, Mr. Bachchan, for making me laugh so genuinely, despite the current heaviness of my heart…also, thanks for reviving my interest in the Hindi language and for giving me a newfound love for Hindi music! =)

I miss Nani terribly. I know she’s in a much better place, but that doesn’t eliminate my constant longings to have her physically back in my life. I hate going downstairs, seeing her things and her living space, and knowing that she’ll never inhabit that space again. Of course, then I find myself thinking about the amount of pain she was in during her last days, and I feel like smacking myself; why would I or anyone in their right mind ever want her to suffer like that again? ‘Cause at least now she’s free of that pain.  And, so, the cruel cycle repeats itself. (Oh, and did I mention that my insomnia’s back? Yeah…stronger than ever, too. Uggggh!)

But regardless of the current cloudiness of my mind and emotions, there are two things I know for sure:

First, that my grandmother was a beautiful soul and a true saint. She set the bar higher than anyone else I know, and I can only hope that I’ll one day leave behind a legacy that’s as rich as hers: a legacy of unconditional love, complete perseverance through any and all circumstances, and childlike faith that never wavered.

Thank you, Nani. You don’t even know how much you’ve impacted my life and faith. You are the ultimate example of godliness. Who needs the Proverb 31 woman when they have you to look up to?

The second thing—and I’ll close my entry with this: Amitabh Bachchan kicks ass!

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3 responses »

  1. Jess,
    Let me tell you that I completely know how you feel. Loosing a parent is a grief like no other, and all I can say is it takes time to heal. It’s been four years since my dad suddenly passed, and it still hurts physically when I think about him. I don’t think about him daily anymore, and that is a blessing, but I don’t know that the pain ever truly goes away. It’s something most of us will go through at some point in our lives.

    Just try to remember that our God IS a big God, and he can handle your anger, tears, resentment, and whatever else you can throw at him. I don’t believe that death is something He ever intended – that was our choice, and THAT is the curse we all have to live with once our loved ones have gone. But He does offer comfort, if we can accept it, and He definitely cries with us. I’ll be praying for you and your family.

    Love and hugs!
    Jenni

    • Thank you, Jenni. As you said, I guess I’ll just have to get used to having the pain on the back burner at all times, and hopefully as time goes on, the pain will become easier to deal with. Right now it keeps smacking me in the face, though. But it’s much more bearable, knowing that I have others in my life (like yourself) who have experienced the same kind of loss. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts and encouragement–because it really is an encouragement! And beyond that, thank you for your prayers! I appreciate you so much. =)

  2. No problem, Jess. I know it can get tiresome hearing people say, “Oh I’m so sorry for your loss” etc, etc. It can get to the point where you are angry at others for not understanding what you’re going through. I remember the first time I heard someone else tell me, “Yeah, I’ve been there, I know how you feel – it’s terrible, and no, it doesn’t get better right away, but it will – with time.” That felt like an honest response, and I appreciated them so much for that.

    So, hide under His wings for now, and let yourself go through the process. It is painful, and it takes a while, but I have never had a stronger faith than I do coming out on the other side of that immense grief.

    And do keep writing – it’s good for the soul!

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