Trigger Warning: Mention of experiences of death of a loved one. Please skip the first three paragraphs if you could get triggered. Happy reading! 🙂
About less than a month ago, I lost a family member. My aunt. She was extremely close, a fucking star. Her smile could light a million worlds. She loved drawing and colouring. It was her favourite thing to do besides watching television serials and cursing every antagonist in it. She was 50 when we lost her. Born with a condition called cerebral palsy, she spent most of her life at home, unable to go out because of her physical and mental condition.
On September 4, she breathed her last. I went to the burial ground, watched her as she was rested in the ground. Everyone who could make it home that day said that they would never forget her bright smile and her pure heart. But I had lost her. I grew up with her, we painted together.
We fought, cried, and played together. Last night, I dreamed about her smiling a full smile. The innocent one, the one that does not have jealousy or insecurity in it. The one that was happy to look at me whenever I came home from Ahmedabad or Bangalore. My heart melted and I cried myself to sleep.
While they lowered her into the ground, I watched. I thought about how I will never be able to go home with her again. How her room will now only have her pictures, clothes, her drawing books and crayons. I thought about how I will now have to move on. It’s been more than three weeks now, and I have reflected about how I am struggling to move on. And how I would.
I don’t think I am unaware of the concept of loss and perhaps nobody is. We have all lost some or the other thing, at some point in life. I have lost close friends to misunderstandings, relationships to priorities, people to death, cities because I wanted to move. Every loss is in a way a small death. Something that I will never be able to experience again.
The first job.
The first day in a new city.
The first time I knew how important my aunt was to me.
I remember my friend N tell me how it was weird to address someone as ‘was’, in the past tense. She had lost a close relative too. And I agree. It’s difficult to think about these experiences in the past tense, realising it will ‘never’ be in the present again. And why is it weird? Because you lose a part of yourself with them. And it would be weird to talk about yourself in the past tense, wouldn’t it?
Human beings by nature associate meanings with people and things they come across. This meaning makes us more ‘us’ when we are them or in these places. It introduces ‘us’ to ourselves. And then these things are taken away from us, we are deprived of the meaning we attached to it.
In October last year, I travelled to Mysuru all alone. It was one of my most memorable experiences ever. I left a part of me in Mysuru and took a part of it with me. I left a part of me with my companion and took a part of them safely with me.
We attach meanings with the people we love or we fall in love with. And so, it becomes difficult for us to let them go, because it means letting ourselves go. Maybe moving on from them means moving on from us.
With every loss, we lose a bit of ourselves, it’s a death of a small part of you.
Sure, it hurts. It hurt me to get out of my friendships and relationships. To move out of one city and into another. Then why must I do it?
I remember R telling me something when we were discussing relationships. He said, “two people may be amazing individuals, just not for each other.” I have kept those words with me till now and will do for a long time. I might have been a perfect companion to my friend, to my partner, or to my city in the beginning. But with time, we changed into different people. Maybe by the end of it, we weren’t amazing for each other anymore.
And then I decided to accept what I had lost, the people and the places. I decided to let go and welcome new experiences. I made space in my life for people who would accept me and the changes that every person in my past contributed to.
I remember having a conversation with P. I told her I was thinking of buying Kindle. She said, “I don’t think you should. I think you should be around physical books, only that would make you ‘you'”. And that conversation was enough for me to know who I wanted in my life. She knew me. And that was enough.
It also becomes important for us to identify our emotions, and sometimes, go through those feelings. They are a part of the whole journey. I let myself feel sadness, anxiety, jealousy, and a sense of loss. I didn’t distract myself or immerse into a shitload of work because really, it won’t make those feelings go away. I might as well accept them.
It’s easy these days to distract ourselves with social media, Netflix, or work. But trust me and go through those emotions, and accept them as a part of you. Ask for help if you think that would heal you.
In my twenty-six years of existence, I have learned that I will have to let go of a lot of things. And so, accepting this fact would only make me merciful towards my future self.
If you’re still here, I would like to offer another tip. Don’t romanticise relationships. They are nothing as shown in movies and fairytales. Any kind of human relationship needs hard work, maturity, and a lot of disappointments.
Don’t let mainstream cinema and Mr Bhagat’s novels alter the idea of real relationships. Please. Be prepared to work on these relationships, on friendships. Invest your time and energy in growing with the other person mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. It’s beautiful.
But perhaps don’t move on completely.
Don’t get rid of that part of you which made you who you are.
Don’t get rid of the part of them that made you who you are.
Take them with you, wherever you go.