I am writing this in a very somber mood this week. We lost two family members within a week..an aunt and a grandfather (my paternal grandfather’s brother, to be precise). It was last Tuesday and I was going about my morning routine until I received a message from my father informing me of my aunt’s passing. It came as an absolute shock and I called home immediately only to realize that they were equally in shock. The suddenness of her death was what hit us all the hardest and I spent the whole day in a weird mood, not able to digest the news. It has been 10 days and I don’t think it has sunk in still and I can’t imagine what her parents, husband and brother are going through. She was only 56.
My grandfather’s brother had been in the hospital for over 10 days before passing away on Sunday. He had been ill for some time and though his immediate family had come to terms with the reality of the situation, how do you really prepare for a loved one’s death? In the end, the people who have passed away are at peace, leaving their families to try and fill out the vacuum with memories.
I have seen my share of losses too, from the late 90s when I lost my paternal grandfather, to right now. The list of people lost include my maternal grandparents, my father-in-law, my great uncle, my aunt (father’s sister) and uncle, and each of those had a different kind of impact on my being.
By now, you all would have realized that I express my emotions best through words; so naturally, I wrote a little note after my aunt’s passing. In that, I poured my heart out about the losses mentioned earlier and how I just had to be there after she passed. I had the opportunity to be part of her final rites and though the following lines were written at the peak of emotion, they still ring true. ‘Trust me when I say this, the experience of taking a dip in the river after completing my aunt’s final rites was sublime. I was surprised to be experiencing such emotions, but that’s life I guess.’ I ended that piece with, “How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?” — Carson McCullers and I believe that’s the only solace we can offer to people who have endured losses.
The grim mood continued through the week when a very close friend of mine tested positive for Covid. This was the closest that Covid had hit for us and when she called to inform us about her diagnosis, I was mighty worried. But today, I am glad to say her symptoms were relatively mild and she is recovering well. She has even regained her sense of smell partially and fortunately enough, her family tested negative.
The recent losses of two loved ones impacted a handful of people. But imagine how many such handfuls of people have been impacted around the world due to Covid-19. And it is unbelievable how lightly people are taking this, after being in a global pandemic for so many months.
Just yesterday, when we were driving around our city, we saw a packed outdoor dining area at a local bar/restaurant. Why was that so shocking? Because, according to the Covid guidelines set forth by the government, all outdoor dining should have closed a few weeks back. Many businesses around the county have been openly defying these rules amidst a sharp rise in the number of Covid cases and hospitalizations. The defiance has been so wide spread that Orange County gained notoriety on a national level, by reporting one of the most scariest possible situations for these times: 0% availability of ICU beds in the entire region. And what have people been doing about it? Socializing, throwing parties, dining-in at restaurants, and walking around without masks as though everything is fine and dandy in the world.
I am sorry for having chosen a grim topic this week. But, I will make up for it as I conclude. Though the initial part of the week was gray and gloomy, we received a few positive signs in the last couple of days. Health care workers around the nation have started receiving Covid vaccines, showing a possible light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. An aunt who had been under a year-long treatment informed me just yesterday that her treatment was done and that all her reports came back OK. This happy trend took an even happier turn with a niece’s engagement, which we got to view virtually.
I guess everything is not lost in the world, after all. There is still some ray of hope for all. As we try to come to terms with different losses that we have faced, let’s try our best to enjoy the little joyful moments that life puts forth and look forward to a beautiful and peaceful 2021.