One week ago, by the will of the universe, my NaaneeJee (mother’s mother) breathed the last breath made available to her in this life.
She was a beautiful soul whose capacity for love showed no end. Although I have many memories of her, when I think back to recall anything, what comes to the foreground of my mind most overwhelmingly is simply her love that she showed in every moment.
Last year, her husband (my NaanaaJee, mother’s father) also passed from this world, as did my father-in-law. I loved them dearly and my memories of them also are ones that I cherish deeply.
Why, then, do I not shed a tear when those who are my beloved depart from this world? I had wondered this about myself after my DaadaaJee (father’s father) passed almost 10 years ago. I was very close with him, having driven him to doctors and car appointments and helped him through his then recent knee surgery. The drives and physiotherapy sessions were filled with much passing of his wisdom and stories of his life.
Perhaps it’s ego or something else speaking, but I don’t think I love any less than others such that I am not filled with sorrow at a passing. That feeling of loss certainly is there and remains with me everywhere I go, but more overwhelming than it is the culmination of three individual mindsets that, by Grace, I have internalized. I’d like to touch upon them now and provide more depth in later posts.
When it comes to raw emotion to fill me, sorrow is replaced by gratitude. I am thankful for the time with which I was blessed to spend with my beloved. As in the case of my NaaneeJee, one moment with her put you in the receipt of enough love to last a lifetime. I am thankful to have gotten as many of those moments as I did in my life.
My Guru reminds me time and time again of another mindset that is a coupling of two teachings. Love without limitation but know deep in your heart that everyone has physical impermanence.
ਜੇਹਾ ਚੀਰੀ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਤੇਹਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥
As His Decree is issued, so is His Command obeyed.
ਘਲੇ ਆਵਹਿ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਦੇ ਉਠੀ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੧॥
Those who are sent, come, O Nanak; when they are called back, they depart and go. ||1||
-Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji, the 2nd human form of the Sikh Guru
By believing that when you say goodbye to someone, it very well may be the last time you ever see them, it changes how you interact with them. Small moments which seem otherwise insignificant count so much more and small issues which otherwise would have been blown out of proportion don’t matter.
Humility lends to the third mindset. As much as you may love someone and however close your relationship may be, you must realize that you are not owed anybody’s existence. It is perhaps the simplest of the three but can be very difficult to accept. Acceptance of this fact helps to feed the practicing of the above two mindsets.
To feel pain is human. It builds character and expressing that anguish is essential in the path to picking up the pieces and moving forward. The above doesn’t negate this, nor is it better. Dealing with loss is difficult no matter what the approach. There are many ways and the above was an attempt to put some thoughts on one approach in words with some semblance of order.