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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| 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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TMLFYI… | All About Fire

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You’re on fire. And this blog is about to be reignited as well. The music video below says it all, doesn’t it.

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TMLFYI… | Sleepless

World, if you’re reading this, I’ve got a question? How jealous are you of me in this picture?

Sleep

Let’s talk about origin, Anaiya.

Maybe it’s because your teething. Maybe it’s because we woke you up early. Maybe it’s because we pushed you past your normal limits on the sleep front. But on Saturday afternoon, at your brother Hukam’s first birthday party, you were not going to be put to bed the normal way.

Your mom is much more gracious about all of this. She’s got an amazing calm with you. You can read older posts if you’re curious. But we all know that the fact that she’s home and with you is the reason you are the amazing child that you are.

I’m different. I get anxious. I hear you squeal and I want to fix something. I see you squirm and I get anxious when whoever’s holding you doesn’t accommodate. I’m sure I do a better job than not of masking my instinctive reaction. I’m also sure your mom has the same impulses. But this isn’t about her. Look at that picture. I’m fine with saying it. This post? Totally about me.

See, I’m a Dad. What I don’t have in the way of biological connections to you I compensate for in as many ways as possible.

So on Saturday afternoon, when I spent an hour trying to put you to down for your afternoon nap, you and I knew three things quickly:

  • You were exhausted
  • You weren’t going to make it easy on us (we deserved it)
  • I wasn’t going to give up (it’s my job, and I won’t, ever, on you)

I fed you. I massaged you. I burped you. We read Where the Wild Things Are on my phone. We listened to lullabies. We listened to Billy Joel (I have no idea why you were so into Allentown this weekend, by the way.) I tried to let you cry it out. I sat up and held you. I tried laying you down and patting you in the crib. Everything.

An hour. A whole hour. And every time you would get close to sleeping, in my arms, I’d lean over to put you into your crib and you’d grab a hold of my shirt for dear life. The greatest feeling ever, mind you (and my first memory of a baby is a similar one, of your Sohum Kaka.)

But we found a happy place. On the floor. On my back. You on my chest. Any attempts to alter this position resulted in you simply not having it. So we slept there. With a birthday party going on around us, and with neither one of us wanting to be anywhere else. At some point soon, that’s going to change for you. Just know, it never will for me.

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TMLFYI… | Awesome

IMAG0377Less in the amazing and extraordinary connotation, and more in the humbling vein. The past few weeks have seen you in the hospital for your 6 month shots and for a mysterious scrape on your head that just appeared — we’ve gone from calling it massive head trauma, to a flesh wound, to a scratch, to a light scrape. But it existed. And you could feel it. And that’s what matters.

But watching you on the hospital bed, sometimes ignorant to what was about to happen, sometimes immediately reacting to what had just happened, and just as quickly. forgetful of all that pain, was awesome.IMAG0376 Because these pains are just the beginning. More bumps and bruises. More heartaches. More pain — physical, emotional, or otherwise.

To think of how unbearable these two circumstances were for us already, makes thinking about how we’re going to raise you and be there for you in future situations (note: in ALL future situations) awesome. In the words of Billy Ocean, simply awesome. (Pay attention at the :12 mark, and ignore everything else in the song.)

 

 

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TMLFYI… | Pudge

Your Dadiji tells a story about how chubby daddy was when he was younger. I know, you look at me now and say “what do you mean ‘when you were younger?'” To which I say, stop being smart.

I had generous layers of adipose covering all parts of my buddy for some time. I know, you look at me now and say “what…” ok, I’ll stop with that joke. But yes, I my pudge was omnipresent and well distributed. But nowhere more effectively than on my thighs.

When bathing me, Dadiji used to have to pinch apart the rolls on my legs, make sure they were dry, and then lightly dust them with powder so I wouldn’t get a rash. Also, when describing the girth and rolls on my leg it’s nice to say “lightly dust” to invoke the work of a pastry chef, because they seem to go hand-in-hand. You should listen to the way her voice changes when she tells the story, and the way she pinches about her fingers to demonstrate every time she does as well. It’s adorable. You’re gonna love it.

There aren’t too many pictures of my legs from back in the day. Lucky for us, we have yours. I imagine they looked something like this? What do you think Dadiji? Anaiya Pudge

Today my love for you is all pudge. There’s simply no better word for it.

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TMLFYI… | Wicker

Wicker 2

“pliable twigs, typically of willow, plaited or woven to make items such as furniture and baskets.”

I haven’t started a blog post off with a definition so I figured I’d go that route. We all know what wicker is, but I’ve never stopped for a second to define it. The plant-based origin makes tremendous sense but I also appreciate wikipedia confirming that we now allow wicker to be made of other materials as well.

It’s definition not withstanding, wicker is also a pretty wicked texture. Discretely there’s a contrast in fibers for those elements woven over and under. Bends, tucks, all side-by-side no matter the direction. As you take a slightly more distanced view, individual waves turn into an undulating sea of consistency. Depending on the piece of furniture, this can go on for what seems to be infinity. I am still captivated by wicker. When I sit in a wicker chair I will repeatedly catch myself running my fingers along the grain enjoying what the rising and fallingWicker of textures feels like against my fingertips. Varying speeds. Varying pressures. Wicker is one of my favorites.

Which is why it was so neat to watch you interact with wicker for the first time yourself. I took so much pleasure in watching you reach for and work with the patterns presented. First under your feet, than as an aspirational lean a bit further ahead, and finally, a forceful grasp at the edge of the table. We didn’t get to spend long immersed in this ebbing and flowing of fibers (at your lovely Neeru Masi’s place, mind you) but for what time we did get, I can tell you, the two of us made the most of it.

In the moment, I enjoyed your reaction to something so utterly simple and yet something so amazingly captivating for me still, to this very day. One of those “simple things” moments that’s so simple you actually Wicker 4forget about it. But as I looked back on these photos and reflected back on the moment, I realized a more powerful layer of pleasure on my end: watching you experience something for the first time. You are my first true world of firsts. And I am committing to immersing myself empathetically in your firsts so I can relive them with you and always find the beauty in those things, in those places, where you find inspiration and beauty.

It’s why wicker has gone from the furniture we use on our patio, to a symbol for how I need and want to be as your father.

In some ways, my time has come and past. The greatest thing I can do for this world is commit to seeing the world through your eyes and supporting you as you make your way. And perhaps the greatest thing I can hope for, is that you see yourself and all of your beauty and potential, through my eyes. Unwavering. Unflinching. Unconditional. But that’s a separate story.

Today we’re talking wicker. All that from wicker. My inspiration to be a better father and person. Now we have this post, and these visuals, to keep me honest if there’s every a question.

Wicker 3

 

 

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My $.02 | No Father’s Day Required

I’m happy to share one and celebrate one on everyone else’s behalf, but I don’t want one. I don’t need one. I don’t deserve one. What’s more important is how we interact with each other every single day for the rest of our lives. How I make you feel. How you feel because of how you’re treated and loved. And the highest expectations in the world that I hope you have of me.

  • Tell me when you don’t feel as loved as you need to feel, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m being consistent and transparent about my love for you, I will know, based on the confidence you have in yourself and in everything you do.
  • Tell me when I’m putting too much pressure on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m being fair with you, I will know, based on the happiness you express in your smile and your actions every single day.
  • Tell me when I’m being too easy on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I am inspiring you to be better, then I’ll know by the goals and standards you set for yourself.
  • Tell me when I’m being too hard on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m supporting you the right way, then I’ll know by the manner in which you do the things you do.
  • Tell me when I’ve disappointed you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I want you to trust me, I will know, based on the increasing faith you place in my perspective and counsel.

I don’t need a Father’s Day. I don’t want a Father’s Day. I want you to have the ability to tell me, every single day, where and how I can be a better Father. And I will celebrate you as a daughter, an exceptionally loved daughter, every single day, based on the baby, girl, and woman you become over the years.

No day required. Just you. Just this.

Tutu

 

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TMLFYI… | Footloose

We’ve been blessed, my love. We’ve had the fantastic fortune of catching you at two very unique and powerful firsts: the first time you laughed out loud, and the first time we caught you discovering your feet. Not noticing they exist. But actually playing with them. Exploring them. Discovery in the purest sense of the word.

I’m not sure who was more mesmerized by the experience. You? The finder of said feet. Or your mom and I, creators of you, who I now consider the Jane Goodall of feet. See video for evidence.

Some highlights?

  • :05 – When you get after your foot with both hands.
  • :13 – When we make eye contact – because that’s always a highlight and always will be.
  • :27 – When your mom calls out the fact that you’re going to put your foot in your mouth.
  • :45 – When prove your mom to be prophetic and try to put your foot in your mouth.
  • :53 – When you discover you have a second foot.

So today my love for you is all about feet. Maybe I’ll never say that again? But my guess is that with you, all rules go out the window.

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PDA | Anaiya | Happy First Mother’s Day!

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(Photo by Shannon Christopher in Savannah, GA. Hire him if you’re down there.)

Hi Mumma,

I’m growing up fast aren’t I. I’m saying that here, to you, because I know if we even imply it around Daddy he’ll get teary eyed and cry (by the way, can we work on that?) It’s my last day as a three month old. Can you believe it?

It’s also your first Mother’s Day. It’s better if we make this post about you.

I know you can believe how fast I’m growing because you spend every day with me. I’ve been around for almost four months, and you’ve been around every single day since — but the truth is, you’ve been a Mom for much longer. There’s no denying it actually because it’s all documented in the book I wrote you on your birthday.

When I first wrote that I was still figuring things out, but the world makes more sense to me now. You. My Mommy, make more sense to me now. And watching you in action is the reason why I feel the most comfortable around you and in your arms. Sure, I love everyone I meet! We proved that in Savannah didn’t we? It’s hard for me not to like people when even random passersby say things like “she’s the absolute cutest” or “look at how happy she is.” But there i s nobody in the world like my Mommy.

I love when people look at me and comment on how happy I am. I wish I could get into the conversation with them (lord knows I’m trying) and tell them why!

It’s because of you. How you take care of me. How you play with me. How you feed me. How you put your whole world aside for me. How you take me out. How you help me see the world. How you take me to music class. How you play peek-a-boo by using the soles of my feet to cover your eyes. All of those things make me so happy, Mommy.

How could I not be happy? You sing Pharrell’s “Happy” to me at every waking moment. As an aside, I hope when I grow up, I’ll be able to sing like you. If not, I’ll be equally happy sitting back and watching you sing, just like Daddy does. And I’ll smile with him when you forget the words or just make up your own.

You’re a Mommy. You’re my Mommy. You’re the best Mommy I could have hoped for. And even though I’m only (almost) four months old, I want you to remember the most important thing ever. When I’m teething. When you’re sleep training me. When I’m just cranky because I’m a baby and I’m allowed to be. When I’m being stubborn and not letting you finish feeding me.

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I want you to remember that every single time I smile, it’s because you put me in position to. You made it all possible in the first place, and now you make it all possible every single day.

Smile with me, Mommy. You’ve earned it. Happy Mommy’s Day!

Love,

Your Munchkin

2014-05-03 19.15.59

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