Thirteen years ago I sat perched on the floor next to you, holding your hand, playing with your hair, running my fingers across your arm as we laughed and talked about all the details of who wore what and what was served at the wedding you had just attended. A tradition we had held throughout my teenage years and possibly even earlier. A moment I’d look forward to. We had just finished our cups of chai and so began my “unloading session” as you had dubbed it over the years.
We laughed and whispered while Papa lay asleep next to you as we had done hundreds of times before. We giggled as I massaged your arm that was sore that night. I leaned in to rest my head on your shoulder. Your shoulders and your arms had held me and been my solace for the first two decades of my life. My comfort spot. My safe space where I knew that if all else failed, I could find refuge. I lay my head on your shoulder and nuzzled into you while sitting on the carpet in my bedroom.
As we lay there, our fingers interlocked, whispering by the faint light of the hallway, little did I know that it would be the last few hours of your time with us. Little did I know that less than 12 hours later, you would perish. Little did I know that your time had come. Little did I know that my life would change forever, little did I know that I wasn’t ready to be mom-less. Little did I realize that I could never be truly ready to live my life without my best friend, my confidante, my biggest cheerleader, my most important critic, the one who taught me to reach for the stars and work as hard as I could, then work harder to realize my dreams, the one who made me into the fiercest feminist while staying home to raise my siblings and I. The one who made everyone happy. The one who made me infinitely happy. The one.
Everything about that night is etched into my brain. Every shadow on the wall, the feel of the brown shag carpeting under my legs, the floral print on the bedsheet on which you lay, the bumps in the wall and how they accentuated every shadow that danced along the wall where the light crept in. The aroma of your face cream, the faint minty scent from your freshly brushed teeth, the gap in your teeth when you looked at me, that smile that revealed that you knew what I was thinking but most of all, the slight twinkle in your eye as you gazed at me lovingly as you had my entire life. Little did I know that those mundane details would be cemented into my mind not for any other reason, then that they accentuated the canvas of our last few hours together.
Thirteen years later I reflect back on those memories, replaying each moment in my head. I cannot help but do so. It comes as naturally to me as breathing; inhaling and exhaling. As much as I’ve learnt, as much as I’ve accomplished and as much as I’ve grown, I cannot help but wonder just how little I knew. I cannot help but savour the vault of memories we made together; the good times and the bad, the happiness, the laughter, the delicious food, the warm hugs, the scoldings, the secrets but most of all the love. All that love. I feel it permeate my every pore. I feel it in how I parent my children whom you never met. I feel it penetrate the fabric of each of the relationships that I have had with friends, family members and even strangers. Your kindness, your generous spirit, your fiery personality, your charm, your intuition and who you were are my guiding lights throughout this journey of life. They live on through me, through my actions and through my life. So much has happened in the last thirteen years, I yearn fiercely to be able to sip a cup of chai, cuddle up and tell you all about it.