Coming to Terms with Death in the Family

A little less than a year ago, in the early hours of the morning, I received a telephone call from my younger brother halfway around the world, who, between his convulsive sobs, told me that my grandmother had passed away. I had seen her a few months before, and before that, I had not seen her in years. My brother, however, had only recently departed home, and so naturally received the blow much harder. My own reaction to the news was surprisingly -shockingly- stoic. And it was more than stoic. Once I had tried, to the best of my still sleep-laden faculties, to console him -and had proved unsuccessful, but both had agreed that we would talk again soon and terminated the call- I got out of bed, lumbered into something more worthy of the spring chill, and wandered into my college’s central square. There, I sat on a bench, and remembered early memories of my grandmother. Of how much she loved all of us. And of how strongly -until only a few years before- I loved her, and had visualized, in moments of uncontrolled and guilt-filled imagination, how would I react to news of her death. I would be undone. I would go mad. And yet here I was, sitting under a starry, moonless night, with a few lazy clouds hanging on the edges of the early March sky. I called the person closest to me in the entire world -and thanked God there was someone as her. And I forgot about the news.
In some ways, I have still not come to terms with the news of my grandmother’s death. And it has been almost a year now. In the beginning, it seemed as if nothing was lost, she was not gone, she was still there -like before, away from me, but still there.
But in other, quite unknown ways, I feel like my whole outlook on life has changed -slowly, and gradually, and painfully, and reluctantly- as I have slowly realized what it means to lose somebody close to you. And the effects still continue to set in, to this day.
Only a few weeks later, my grandfather passed away too. That was to be expected -the two were the closest people to each other I have known. They did not eat, nay, drink a casual tea without each other -and never in my memory has my grandfather spent a night away from home -because he wanted to be with the love of his life -my grandmother. The strength, and settled-ness, and chemistry of their relationship still fills my heart with admiration and nostalgia. Maybe this is true of all old people. But maybe, also, this was unique about my grandparents. He died, he gave up in some ways, when it slowly came home to him that my grandmother was no more alive. He passed away peacefully -while traveling in a car, cradled by his only son, my father. I have often wondered about the grandeur and the minutae of those last moments. In what ways was it ordinary, and in what extra-ordinary and earth-shattering?
A letter, written in the indicipherably bad handwriting of my late grandfather, and used as a bookmark in Eli Wiesel’s book that I am reading, prompted this.
Every passing day, every moment that I realized what has happened, something fundamental changes about my outlook to life itself. I hope this is normal, and it is for the better.


~ by safrang on February 15, 2007.

One Response to “Coming to Terms with Death in the Family”

  1. […] coming to terms with death in the family […]

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