Farewell to my dear Papa and …..
2018 was a turbulent year with many cultural, environmental and political shifts all over the world! For me personally, it ended with a huge shift with the loss of my dear Papa in September. It was the loss of our last surviving parent too!
I will not hide the fact that it has been a roller coaster of emotions for me; still is on some days. The overwhelming grief of the loss of my Dad, this larger than life figure who had been our security net, made me feel very lost and vulnerable. Dealing with the immense loss of both my parents, my circle of love and safety as I have known my entire life, felt like I had fallen into deep waters, not knowing how to swim.
I also feel this overwhelming pressure to protect my only other sibling, my younger brother. Even though he is in his early forties, I feel very responsible for him since he has never had to take care of himself and our home in Mumbai, partly because of a mental health issue he has faced for the past 15 years. He is not married and has not been able to procure a job, essentially leaving him all alone now. I wanted to fix everything for him so that he would be comfortable. So when I was there, I put on enormous pressure on myself to try to settle all financial and legal matters, as soon as I can. There was also the presumption that he wouldn't be able to live by himself so I needed to find him either a group home or a temporary alternative till I(I, me , myself) were able to make permanent decisions.
All this in a few weeks time, if not days, so I could get back to my two kids, ages 14 and 10 who had never stayed away from me this long! That brought on a mountain of anxiety and overwhelm on top of the grief!!
It took an act of faith to acknowledge and accept on my part that my brother was not only doing much better but if given the chance and time, was making balanced choices and decisions for himself. He knew and remembered all the personal financial information to take care for himself but wasn’t confident since Papa would handle all of it. His fun creative smart side was beginning to show again, he just needed some time and the right support!
Overtime, I am trying to make him aware of his capabilities and increase his self esteem. Also, we didn't have to take all the decisions and I had help in my husband, kids, extended family and close friends. Both of us are still trying to overcome the anxiety and fear of failure & loss of any kind!
I will always miss Papa for his constant reassuring presence and his structured, timely, methodical and organized mindset for taking care of all financial and legal matters with perfection, maybe sometimes a bit too much. He had his reasons behind his attitude, given the immense challenges of not only surviving but thriving in a developing country like India where activities like opening an account at a financial institution is still done in person and all paperwork filled out in hand, without a single mistake or scratch! I filled out one form at least 5 times to finally get it to be accepted!!
I have inherited some of Papa’s mindset but I have had to learn the hard way to let go of the "perfection" and balance it with some patience and kindness that I have also inherited from my dear beloved Mumma, who passed away not too long ago in 2012. I try to balance the kindness and patience not only for my all my family but for myself so as not to go overboard with the "perfection" - which is only “MY belief” of how it should be.
I tried to stop micromanaging my brother based on MY timeline, MY priorities and MY thoughts of living a “good” life (aka spotless and organized home) and instead tried to be in his shoes and approach it with more kindness, be patient as he learns how to take care of himself and the house! It is HIS life and HIS home now!!
In the end, I stayed back almost 6 weeks to straighten out some finances and paperwork and give us both some time to process the new reality and what it really entails in my brother’s day to day life. We had a few anxious situations but persevered.
We had a tremendous outpouring of support and help from extended family, neighbors and friends, on both sides, which made it possible for me to be away from kids for that long. WhatsApp, the addictive messaging and video calling app, made it very easy to stay in touch with everyone!
It has been a couple of months since my brother has lived on his own. We talk frequently and I try to offer kind motivational moral support, but let him take the decisions! He does feel lonely, it hasn’t been easy and had a few ups and downs stemming mostly from unfounded anxieties and fears but we have come a long way!!
I am trying to flow on faith instead of fears!!
My lessons learned were as that when we love and care for a dear one, we don't have to "do" everything for them, we don't have to take all their decisions, protect them from making mistakes, make it comfortable and easy by taking over the tasks. This way they don’t become dependent on us or anyone else because in the end, they will have to take care for themselves, physically, emotionally, financially and even spiritually. Everyone, including us, will go away one way or another.
Also, we don’t box them in OUR preconceived beliefs on how to live life and be happy but lend gentle structure for them to grow into their own definition of happiness. Be a support system for them and not an enforcer. You can’t walk their life for them, teach them how to with love and respect, no matter what age, young and old alike.
We have to let go of the anger and anxieties, and replace it with hope, gratitude, faith and trust in the bigger powers too!! I know it’s easier said than done but we have to be keep trying to accept and learn from “uncomfortable” situations/people, be resilient to live a joyful life and our kids will follow our footsteps to do the same. And I hope to carry these lessons while raising my own children, I am hoping to become a kinder parent and human being!
I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to live a safe and content childhood with very loving supporting parents who gave us a lot of opportunities to grow and showed us the world! Mumma and Papa live on in my kids’ hearts and mine and in a younger brother, with whom I have revived a new kind of friendship! I am also very grateful for the sweet & kind kiddos and husband, who are very patient with their “out of the box” Mom and wife :)
And I couldn’t have survived the last few months without my thriving community of soul sisters and close friends, who are always checking up on me and the kids, creating a safety net for all of us.
We are all so blessed to be living very good lives in very safe & thriving communities and everyday it is getting better and better, despite what the media tries to portray! I am also realizing and accepting the blessings and lessons of struggles and “hard” times & people, alike.
We are all here to learn and grow and help each other on our journeys but with a lot of kindness and acceptance, not only for others but for ourselves too!!
Love = Kind Respect + Acceptance + Faith;
Wishing you all a very peaceful, strong and loving 2019!
Thank YOU for your support by reading this all the way to the end :)