DADDY | MEMORIAL SERVICE DETAILS or KISHORE KUMAR SAID IT BEST

“Zindagi ek safar hai suhana
Yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana”

Family, friends, incredibly supportive community members, we invite you to join us in celebrating the life of Kiran Chandrakant Bhatt.

>> Day & Time: Sunday, March 4th from 3-5:30/6
>> Location: The Indian Cultural Center in Marlton, NJ

His physical presence left us on February 4th, but only after he laughed heartily at videos of Anaiya and Jaan, his grandkids, after he told Anita, his daughter, how much he loved her, after he indulged in two (not one) ras gulas, after he took his typically brisk morning walk around his favorite place in the world, Ahmedabad, and after he returned home to be next to the eternal, undeniable, incredible love of his life, Renu.

He left us at the pinnacle of happiness. For all he has done for us, we are blessed. For how quickly and how painlessly he found peace, we are comforted.

We invite you to join us for a few bhajans, a few stories, and the opportunity to participate in saying not farewell, but thank you, for all the joy he brought us.

Love,
The Bhatt Family

“Arey o leiyo leiyo, oleiyo leiyo
Oleiyo leiyo, oleiyo leiyo
Oleiyo leiyo, oleiyo leiyo”

PS – Skip the sorrow, tears and flowers. If compelled, send smiles and support our way, and any financial contributions to The American Heart Association: https://donatenow.heart.org/

PPS – The song referenced in quotes above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wZDU-DDTOU

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | EMBRACE IT or ON YOUR SHOULDERS

This morning, a few moments ago, when I stepped out onto my parents front porch, I saw one of our (many) amazing neighbors closing his garage door. He saw me. (He saw me last night actually, and when he saw activity in our house he called some friends to make sure all was well.) John’s a great man. He is a great friend and neighbor to us here in NJ. He was deeply beloved by Daddy.

And when he saw me, standing on his driveway, on his way to work, he stopped everything and put his hand up as I did mine. We just stood. Arms raised. Looking at each other for a few seconds. Then we slowly, dropped those hands, and started to walk toward one another. John walked across our cul de sac slowly, with each step, spreading his arms wider than the sky behind him, taking 100 steps toward me with those arms never failing him and never falling down. We met and he pulled me into an embrace with nothing said other than “I’m sorry about your Dad.” It was perfect. And I’ve seen that work over and over again. The best interactions we’ve had start with the simplest of things: a hug, a short word of acknowledgement, and then silence that allows a more natural conversation to flow based on our mood. It’s amazing. Embraces are amazing.

Embrace it. There’s nothing more powerful than an embrace. In a world where people are being crammed into tighter spaces while our minds are being pulled farther and farther apart — I agree with Vinny Chase and crew, there’s nothing like hugging it out.

This picture. This embrace. Is special.

Of all the embraces we’ve received — so many. Family who came from far and wide to be with us. Friends who never stopped stopping by. Neighbors who made us their family. Servants and house workers crying tears of loss for Daddy that showed us their truest emotions and allowed us to comfort them for all the comforting they’ve done for us.

Of all the embraces, the one pictured here, is one I have to highlight. Look at it. It’s strong. It’s firm. It’s supportive. It’s affectionate and strength granting. It’s the Mehta family, folks.

DADDY | 2-21 1

What can we say about Pradeep Mehta and Malika Aunty? All of the joy my parents have experienced in India the past 10 years is directly attributable to their tireless efforts to make Ahmedabad home for our family. I simply cannot do it justice. Let me tell you. I cannot do it justice. Finding the home. Buying the home. Setting up before our arrival, closing down when we’re gone. Finding us help. Taking care of every detail.

And when Daddy passed away, to watch Pradeep Uncle join my Jivan Mama (Neelu Bhatt) and take off of work for two weeks and attend to every detail of our estate in India, and alleviate any and every burden from our family — folks, I’m telling you, I have no words and I can do them no justice. You expect this of family (thank you all.) But we’ve come to expect this of Pradeep Uncle and Malika Aunty.

Yes. So of all the embraces I’ve witnessed the past two weeks, this one is extra special. Because it is a short capture of a nonstop, 10-year hug we’ve received from the Mehta family. In person, over email, via phone, and always always in their thoughts. They’ve been hugging us and giving us their shoulders to cry on and stand on for 10 years and counting.

Pradeep Mama, you are no Uncle to us, you are no friend to Mom, you are a brother to her and a Mama to us. We love you. Thank you. For absolutely everything. Of all people, you made Daddy’s dream place come true. You’re integral to his departing narrative — for without you, Daddy would not have found his happiest of places, to complete what was an otherwise perfectly fulfilled life. Thank you for putting that last smile on his face.

May we have the strength to pay all you’ve done for us forward. May we have the strength, the discipline, the commitment, the integrity…the humanity. All, mind you, traits and characteristics Daddy embodied for a lifetime. That poetry is not lost on us.

Love you, Mama and Mami.

Love you.

(PS – Thanks for taking us to that vintage car museum. I so hoped for a Stingray for Daddy. But the 106 other beauties were worth it on their own!)

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

 

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DADDY | 12/40 or HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRIYA

Today marks Day 12. 12 days since my Daddy left the physical world. Hinduism is incredibly ritualistic. I’ll leave it at that. But in essence, our family is using the next few days as a way to help my father’s soul find peace as it rises to the universal soul, while also slowly bringing an end to the mourning period at which point the family is supposed to more formally transition back to normal life.

Yeah. Thanks for the roadmap, Hinduism.

What I do love about the way we celebrate someone’s death is one key point: danam, which literally translates to gift or offering, but in the context of mourning and death rituals, it more spiritually means charity. Our family will travel to a local school for children facing physical and mental difficulties, and bring them a fun, healthy and indulgent lunch. 200 kids. My father spent his life serving people (family, friends, the community at large). For all the pujas, prayers, moments of silence, and fantastically colorful and sense overwhelming procedures, this is the single greatest thing we are doing to honor Daddy’s legacy and soul. This is the single greatest thing we can do to help him achieve universality (though he’s done more, with plenty leftover, to cover his journey and credit a world with what he has left over).

12. That’s the 12.

The 40? That’s my wife. She turns 40 today. You’ve heard me write, over and over again, that Daddy said out loud and often, that Priya is the single greatest thing to happen to me and to our family.

He knew his sh*t.

Today’s her birthday. A big milestone birthday. On the day that the celebration of my Daddy’s life moves from the inauspicious (mourning) toward the more auspicious (celebratory), I don’t find it to be any coincidence that we’re sharing this day with Priya’s 40th.

DADDY | 2-14 5

She’s spent the past two weeks dealing with two kids, bouts of the flu, kids with nightmares, kids with 4am fevers, all while facing an incredibly demanding stretch at work, all while mourning and grieving for her Daddy too. And she’s done it with grace, dignity, huge smiles, and without missing a beat.

She spoke at an impromptu religious ceremony held by our community in South Jersey (what an amazing extended family, those friends we’ve known for 50 years in South Jersey) and carried the full thoughts and weight of our family on her shoulders, and delivered the kind of thank you that my Daddy would have raved about for years.

She made him proud. As she always did.

This is the woman whose vows to me during our legal ceremony 7+ years ago anchored in her promise that we will always be there for our family (collective). We didn’t know how soon or how often. But she’s never wavered.

The way she has handled the past 12 days is evidence and validation of Daddy’s earliest words to me about her: she’s the best thing.

12 days.
40 years.

12|40. Priya, you and Daddy are bonded together in eternity, in service and in the most celebratory and auspicious of ways. I smile wide today for that reason.

Hey, best thing. Happy Birthday. You make all life and love possible. Udabes. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for you. We all are.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | LOVE or THE INSANELY FINITE

The ability to feel love, is for all intents and purposes, eternal. You express it involuntarily from the moment you’re born, and you express it in whatever form possible for as long as you’re humanly capable. But the ability to show that love to someone, to extend it to the people you love, to know they feel it in return, is incredibly finite.

The ability to make someone feel loved is INsanely finite.

For today, for this Valentine’s Day, I hope you are motivated by the insanely finite in pursuit of the infinite.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful that I kissed my Daddy on the cheek every single time I saw him, and every single time I said goodbye. Including when I landed in India last week. My love for my father is infinite and will carry with me until my own last breath. My ability to say it to him directly, and to know that he has heard me, to make sure he knows he was loved, feels today, very much in the realm of the finite.

Love your family. Love your friends. Love the people around you. Not the way you want to love them, but the way they want to be loved. Love them not so you can say aloud that you expressed your love, but rather, so that someone very comfortably and very consistently and very clearly says “I know you love me.”

Love you all. I do. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

 

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DADDY| MY SIS or CREATING SPACE

My sis is my guardian angel. She always did everything at home, for my family, for our parents, so I could run off and explore the world. For 17 years, splitting time with my mom, she was the primary daily caretaker of my bedridden ba (grandmother). While I was off being a kid and a teenager, my sis went from 11yo to grownup overnight. With a daily list of responsibilities that filled the day, and reset at midnight. It wasn’t until she was approaching 30, when my ba passed away, that she was able to focus on herself. But at that point, life was in full swing. Work. Expectations. Society. My sis never had a childhood and she never had the chance to truly focus on herself later in life.

That’s what my Daddy wanted for her more than anything. For her to take that step back, find out how amazing she is, achieve her fullest potential as one of the sincerest and purest and most loving people the world has ever known. They had that discussion in December before my parents left for India, and even in January he was telling her “2018 is your year.”

The power of love, with family and with friends, puts the world’s most powerful force (love) against the most delicate of subjects (human feelings). What my Daddy and my Mumma have always wanted for my sister is what they believe is best for her. It didn’t always work for both sides. For all the mutual want, she never had the space or the opportunity or the impetus to create that space for herself when the world wouldn’t give it to her.

DADDY | 2-9

As we search for our “why” around all of this mess, Anu Kiran, I have found one that gives me peace. Daddy wanted to give you space in a way nobody else in the world could. The single thing that will make him the happiest (not would, but will, as this is not a past tense appreciation) is reading your note below, and watching you move forward with that torch firmly in hand.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the power and selflessness that the most powerful father/daughter bond I have known for my lifetime, has created. Godspeed, my angel. Godspeed.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY| ON GRIEVING or A SINGLE BLADE

@$&?!

I forgot to pack my razor.

I’m showering at 1 am. In 7.5 hours we will start preparing the body of the man who made and molded me for his union with his Maker. And I haven’t shaven in days. And the blades I thought I packed at 330am before heading out on a 24+ hour trip to the saddest destination I will ever visit, are most certainly sitting atop the chair on which I packed.

I’m a fast packer. Not a good one.

(Opens Daddy’s medicine cabinet door in his bathroom in India. Sees one perfectly placed razor with one, single, remaining blade.)

“He did it again. He planned perfectly.”

DADDY | 2-8

My Daddy had left a single razor blade just for me. With his silly Sensor Excel razor. Blades that are so hard to find I would buy them in bulk for him (100 blades last time) out of fear of them going extinct, and him choosing never to shave again.

Now? I won’t be able to look at a razor again, for a long long time, without tearing up or downright bawling.

—————————

So.

How does a person who is affected so wildly by a single razor blade answer a question like “How are you doing?”

Visiting someone who is grieving is hard. What do you say? How do you take their pain away? Can you even? The circumstances are compounded by emotion as well as a lack of familiarity with this situation (who wants to get comfortable with death?)

Here are some things that have crossed my mind as I reflect back on past experiences, and dig in on an acute and intimate understanding of what we are going through now.

Specifically, what people who are visiting my mom can keep in mind when trying to comfort. I wish I had thought of some of these before having to live them, as I am sure I’ve fallen victim to these in the past.

Here goes…

1) Every question asked is a burden on the grieving to respond and answer. Think about it. Every time you ask me how I am doing, I have to relive how terribly I am doing. I have to tell my story over and over again. Not in a way that helps me heal, but stops me from it. Because to answer that question for you, I can’t start with where I am, I have to start with where you are. I have to give you all the context or nothing of value. And after being exhausted I will default to the latter. Instead of dealing with my current emotion. Instead of that, if compelled to ask me a question, eliminate the weightiness of it. “How are you feeling right this moment?” But I actually suggest just telling me you love me, telling me you are there for me, and being close enough to me that I feel your support not just hear it (hand on an arm, shoulder, a hug, whatever, steady check INS.)

2) Focus on doing over asking. Don’t ask me if I need Water. Just bring me a glass. Don’t ask me if I want food, leave food out for me to graze. Don’t ask me if there’s anything you can do, ask me if you can specifically do something. Better still, out of the goodness of your heart, do what inspires you. Keep my cognitive overload low. Reduce the number of smaller transactional decisions I make in a day so I can focus on the bigger things.

3) Its not about being strong, it’s about being healthy. Try to avoid telling me to be strong. When you do, you’re adding another weight around my shoulders. Am I being judged? Is there a way to grieve? Crying doesn’t make me weak. It makes me honest and proves I am dealing and engaging. Instead, alk to me about being healthy and finding my way. Doing what works for me. And let me know it’s ok to cry. To laugh. To sleep. To do whatever I want to do to find peace first and progress next. As long as I am finding my way to healthy. Advice is always welcome. As suggestions, preferably not as mandates.

4) Find and manage my momentum. People are compelled to say something which is what gets us into trouble. My advice is to wait for me to lead. If I am quiet I want to be quiet. Sit with me in my quiet comfortably and I will never feel more at ease. If I am sad or spiraling downward, field me graciously and redirect me back. Or be a life preserver with your arms around me, literal or figurative, so I don’t drown. And if you feel me telling a story, advance it and propel it forward. Get out your surfboard and ride my best waves, and tame my worst. But avoid cutting them off. You won’t effectively stop my feelings at the source but you can help ensure positive momentum.

5) I know I had a good life and was lucky to have him. But this still hurts like 1000 simultaneous punches accompanied by the strongest hands strangling my triple-chinned neck. Allow and encourage me to find balance. Accept my tentposts. My endpoints. My Absolute North and my True South. He lived an amazing life and we are proud to have been a part of it and blessed by him. And at precisely the same time, this is brutal and devastating. Our lives exist between those two endpoints for the foreseeable future. The space between them will compress. Our requirement to feel both simultaneously stretched across the widest expanse will change, and we will swing between one and the other less violently over time. Acknowledge both.

6) Bring energy. At the end of the day, the mood in the room of those people grieving is dictated by the people who grieve. But it’s impossible not to be affected by sincere, authentic love and positivity. Bring it. Don’t be afraid to smile. Lift me up and you create positive momentum in the room.

I love your support. Know that. Every bit of love, support, condolence. Every hug. Every pat on the back. Every text. Every email. Everything I love. The experiences that are most helpful though, and I believe this is fairly universal, are the ones that embrace some of the above. Just my $.02.

As I watch people interact with my mom, I wish I could share all of this with them. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for FB because I don’t have to think about sharing it. I can actually just share it.

——————-

A single blade. Who knew a single blade in my Dad’s medicine cabinet would encapsulate our entire relationship.

Love you, Daddy. Also, the Sensor Excel sucks. The blade is so small it took me 13 hours to shave my face. No wonder you got up so early for work. You lived to 77 but 10 of those years were spent shaving.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | AMI CHHATNA or AUSPICIOUS RAIN

My arms are sore. We lifted my Daddy up 10 times yesterday. Some were small transfers. Some were lengthier. Including down seven flights of stairs. As we carried Daddy out the front door of his dream house in Ahmedabad, I heard a rustling. Breeze? Leaves?

A light rain. A light sprinkle. Extremely odd. Because it never rains in Southern California, or in Ahmedabad in February.

As we descended the stairs the sprinkles, the “chhatna” as we call it, stayed light and steady. At each flight’s midpoint, the stairs turn at a landing, with a waist high level wall and an open window to the courtyard. At each turn you’d be able to peek out the open window and see the pavement and roadway slowly getting clean. Raindrop pointillism. Like how light rain freshens up the driest concrete, the dustiest sidewalks, and makes all grass look fresh and new. No puddles. No accumulation. Just a light sprinkle to freshen up the ground.

Then we got downstairs.

We had to carry Daddy outside briefly to get him into the garage where the ceremony would begin. During that quick turn the rain…stopped. Not a drop of exaggeration.

It sprinkled just enough to freshen up the ground and clean up the world for my Daddy. Who did that for everything he owned and interacted with. Clean. Precise. Fresh. Presentable. Mother Nature did that for him when he couldn’t do it for himself.

I found the timing beautiful. I’m not religious and barely spiritual, though there’s something hopeful about believing in the magical as possible, just not relying on it.

But as I spoke to my Daddy’s eldest cousin, who I sat with for 90 minutes to hear stories going back to toddlerhood, he mentioned this idea of the “Ami chhatna”. An auspicious sprinkle, that happens just as did for my Daddy, for the loftiest of souls. As his rises to universality (and to become a star) it has been beautiful to watch the outpouring of support for our family and in memory of how he loved and in recognition of how he will continue to influence them in the future.

But I know my Daddy. And I know how loved he is. So I expected all of that outpouring.

I was humbled though when the skies, literally opened up, with their own outpouring. Perfectly delivered. Freshening his path to the crematorium. And clearing his path to whatever is next for him.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the support and symbolism. He never let anyone make a big deal about him while he was here. Happy he gave the human, material and spiritual world a reprieve as he leaves us. Love you, Daddy. You’ve earned all of this and More.

Also, does this dude look 77? The pic was taken just a few months ago just after that birthday.

DADDY | 2-14 1

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | A STAR

Yesterday, our Dad became a star. There’s still a lifetime of things to say, but here is step 1…

Today I fly to India to join the strongest person I know, my mom, and a community of friends and family, to help the world say goodbye to his body. His light. His love. His spirit. His crappy jokes. His absolute moral perfection and purity. Those will live on forever. Envelop us from moment-to-moment. Protect us. Remind us. Break us but only momentarily. Because his strength and resilience are also with us forever.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful to have called you Daddy for 42 years, and now, to close my eyes, or to look at the sky, or to look at your grandkids, and be reminded and fully inspired to do the same. Forever. I will see your body soon. I will do my best to live in a way that makes you proud and is worthy of your legacy. See you soon, Daddy. You’d be proud and brought to tears if you heard Anaiya explain her love for you, and, how she knows you’ll always be with us. I’ll whisper it in your ear when I see you. 

Also, go Eagles. You earned this Super Bowl run with a near lifetime of dedicated fandom. 🙂

Thank you all for your love and support. It’s a testament to the person he will always be and the person my mom is. Send love. Send strength. Shed no tears. Channel that emotion deeply and powerfully toward the people you love.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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TYMMPB… | You’re Ready and Welcoming the Future

Hello, future. Let’s go.

 

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TYMMPB… | We Chilled

You’re one. WTF.

This is how you turned one. Rough night for you. Rough few days (week?) You woke up crying at 1045. I picked you for the long haul at 1115 after some pick ups and put downs.

Jaanu 1

But you know? It’s all good. You’ve earned it. You have had such an understated year.

You were born in the shadow of a job switch and your sister going to school.

You were so quiet on our first vacation people wondered where you were.

You moved between nannies while smiling at each and every one.

You waited to crawl until nobody was really watching probably because you didn’t want to be a distraction.

You moved houses before you moved yourself.

You’ve been teething for 8 months and just got a tooth.

The sourest demeanor you ever have is cured by taking you outside so you can wave … to everyone.

You take meds with a smile (like you take everything else.)

You love your sister and let her make you smile like I never knew smiling was possible.

You are a momma’s boy. Keep that, homie. It will get you far. Or at least, protect you forever.

You have your grandfathers in you (and in your name), linked to them forever (and ever.)

You take your time. The more we rush and hustle around you the more you naturally, instinctively, and subtly, humble our pace.

You are everything this whole family needed.

You are what your mom ordered but what I needed. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for this moment. Some rare QT.

And I get to brag that you turned one in my arms. (Note: I put you back in your crib peacefully a second before posting this. You probably woke up and faked some tears so I could have this moment and story to tell.) HBD, Jaanu!

This, by the way, was how you woke up. Not so bad, huh?

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