My wife’s mother died of a “heart attack” (We are not very sure about the reason yet though) in her fifties. Immediately after her untimely demise, my wife’s father also was diagnosed with “pancreatic cancer,” and the doctor put him under palliative care. These two devastating incidents cost my wife’s emotional, mental, psychological, and, of course, physical labor that ranged from Hindu tradition of mourning for thirteen days in a secluded area and eating less and bland food to crying in deep memories of her mother while breastfeeding our one year old daughter and to remaining in painful thoughts of her father’s cancer that wouldn’t be cured. We continued keeping him in our pray that he would survive miraculously (that actually might not happen). As a responsible husband— that’s the duty of each and every husband— I tried to soothe her, support her, and be by her side 24/7.
It was the most painful experience I felt through my wife’s bewailing when the death took her mother away, but it was also an enlightening experience to see why death is significant even if it doesn’t come like someone’s birth that brings a lot of blessings, garlands of joy, and celebration. Why death which is inevitable, unavoidable and everyone knows that we all must die one day is not easy to accept, and it still matters to us. I managed to know the death very closely: the pain I felt in my bones, but I also tried to justify the entrance of death in our life and the exit of our life. It gave me the opportunity to deal with death in general, do deal with my wife’s pain in particular, to play a role of a successful husband so I could wipe the tears rolling down of my wife’s cheeks.
“Everything has a reason,” I said to my wife. “Look, God has given you a beautiful daughter to see your mother in her face. Each and every time you should see your mother when your daughter smiles. Your mother was very dearest to God so she died without being in pain. Remember, the God gave you a good husband like me and a beautiful daughter before He took your mother’s life away. He has arranged everything so perfectly and in a very organized way so we should be very thankful for such a graceful exit of your mother from this earth. I wish I could die like that without being in pains when my turn comes. Now, we should live by memories, and we should cherish them so your mother can smile in heaven watching over you and our daughter jovial. If you are in pains, your mother can never be happy. Remember, you said that your mother always wanted to see you happy and healthy.” These words warmed my wife’s soul, I realized. However, even these days, I can see her tears rolling down by themselves when she sees her mother’s picture hanging on the wall or when the memories of her mother gushes to her mind.
“I am going to lose my father too. I will be an orphan soon. And my father is not dying easily. How will you justify that?” My wife posed me a challenging question pink-eyed and lachrymose.
“Because he never felt what pain in life was. He always enjoyed carefree while your mother worked hard, looked after you when you were a toddler. He ate and drank without paying any attention to balance diet even after the operation of his Ulcer, even after the doctor suggested that he should pay attention to balance diet. The results have appeared now. He transgressed the law of nature. So be ready for his approaching death and accept it. The God is testing on you now whether you can pass this test or not. If you pass, you can challenge the death and you can win it spiritually. You will become a teacher for those who suffer like you in the family.”
My wife remained silent.
I continued, “Your mother wanted to see that I finish my Ph.D. and see my pictures of wearing a hood as I walk in my graduation. She wanted to see our beautiful daughter’s birth. She wanted to see my job of an assistant professor at a college in the USA. She wanted to see my book on Gender and Disability I was working on to be published. All of those things have happened right before she died. Her soul is now in peace. You must smile and celebrate her death like we do in someone’s birth.”
These days, I have started tracing a little bit of smile on my wife’s face that brings joy to my heart as well. Her father is waiting for his death, most probably in 2020, if no miracle happens. Adieu to 2019.