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The time had to come when all my kind friends who have been keeping me company, had to go back to their normal lives. The time has come for me to start the rest of my life, without my Mom. Alone? No, not really. How can I be alone when I have all those memories of a very full life, when I have such a large and loving family, when I have all those beautiful friends, and last but not least my furry friends.
The beginning of the rest of my life is a bit difficult, a challenge. Mainly that of time. Time could either be my greatest enemy, or if I handle it right, a balm. Though it is still too soon after losing my Mom to judge, the first evening after the first onslaught of grief, is rather long and a bit scary. My refuge is trying to bury myself in the TV. Trying to lose myself, escape, into what is being aired. A thrilling series here, a comedy film there, a talk show on a different channel. Strangely enough, though trying to lose myself in all that, there is still a level within my consciousness that is tensely and deliberately trying to keep myself within the escapist mode. Hopefully, if I keep at it long enough, the initial pretense becomes a habit that eventually turns into reality.
Curled up on the sofa in the living room with a dog sleeping on my feet, one cat purring on the arm of the sofa and another sleeping on the back of the sofa, but half leaning against my shoulder, I am watching TV, browsing Facebook, reading a book and writing my article. Yes, definitely overdoing it. Just to keep the panic at bay. Maybe once I start to relax that fear of the void will not overtake me, I might not need so many things going on simultaneously. Fear. That is the crux. And courage is the antidote. Courage of a different type. The courage to pick myself up, take a deep breath and get on with life. No. Not just “get on” with it, no, plunge into it, savor it, enjoy it. Too soon? No, never too soon to try. Maybe the first few attempts would not take, but if I keep trying, that too will become a habit, then turn into a truth.
Ever since I was quite young I remember having those moments of daydreaming when I would try to see myself ten years in the future. This usually happened when I had to do a mindless task that did not really necessitate any conscious concentration, like waiting for water to boil on the stove. I would start to wonder where I would be and what I would be doing, what my life would be like in ten years’ time. This kept happening periodically and for those short glimpses I would see myself ten years ago, see myself as I was at the present, and try to see myself ten years in the future. None of my imagined future visions ever came true, but every decade did have at least one drastic, basic change that was usually totally unpredicted.
Stability was the ruling characteristic of the formative years of my life. The same house through my childhood till maturity, the same school from kindergarten till graduation, even the same job for ten years after graduating from college. So maybe my daydreams were really an unexpressed desire for change. Even though the outward appearances were those of stability, life itself was far from that, and every once in a while drastic internal upheavals took place. All this never prepared me for the place where I find myself to be in now. Although I should have been prepared, yet strangely enough, I never imagined it. Alone. Not lonely, but alone. Millions of people are in such a situation, but for me this is totally new, and maybe that is what is so scary. It is not like when my parents went to the coast in summer when I had to stay back as I was working. I was alone in the apartment, but not really. They were still there in the background. But now, I am really alone, and until I can fully grasp the meaning of that, its depth and dimensions, I think I shall remain wary and apprehensive. It is not that I have not been responsible for myself and my Mom over the past couple of decades, it is not that I have not been running a house with several staff, it is not that I have not been taking care of the family finances ever since my a Father passed away, no, all that I take in stride. It is the being alone that I will need to come to terms with. And I shall. I am blessed with a great hobby, reading, and blessed even more with the ability to express my feelings in writing. These two blessings can see me through many a long evening. I shall not always have people around, but my aloneness will not turn into loneliness as long as I have these blessings.
My challenge these days is to make sure that I pick myself up and build the kind of life that I would enjoy and make my Mom proud.
22 March 2014