About 18 months ago I purchased a set of mindfulness activities and games for the kids. To help them name their emotions. We’ve tried a few times since to work through them and all have failed miserably. Until today.
Where we had a 30 minute discussion on forgiveness, which then moved into discussion a number of emotions ranging from pleasant and high energy through to unpleasant and low energy.
We were floored. Brought to tears as Anaiya and Jaanu talked about their moments of anger and calm (what Jaanu was feeling when we were taking); or determined (what Anaiya was feeling) and jealous (something Anaiya says she has never felt but then expressed what she feels instead).
#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the mindfulness exercise to work through the first day of this year. It was beautiful. And I’ve never been more proud or honored to be their dad.
On the first day after a year where I felt I got so much wrong, this reminded me I got something right.
I’ve been trying to write this post for 3 weeks. I’ve tried many different hooks and patterns. I’ve tried to be simple. I’ve tried to be poetic. i’ve tried analogies. I’ve tried to be detailed. Yet every time I got about 350 words deep, I’ve leaned my head back away from my laptop, frowned, selected all of the text in the editor, and hit “delete”.
Nothing I can write does my feelings and my appreciation for you, justice. Nothing.
I have no words. There are no words. Language is limiting. As I understand it, there are over 1,000,000 total words in the English language, over 170,000 in current use, and on average, a person uses 30,000 of them.
As I told your Mama when I proposed to her: “even 1,000 poets, writing 1,000 words a day, for 1,000 years can’t capture what moved me to propose to her”.
Now; for the second time in my life, I find myself verbally helpless; trying to find a way to bridge how I feel with the few words available and the even fewer words I know.
I don’t know how to capture what I’m feeling in words; in a way that you will read them at some point in your future and understand the weight of the feeling and the sentiments behind them.
But what I know, is that it won’t be for a lack of trying.
Anaiya. Jaanu. Buhboo.
For all of my worth as a human being: thank you.
There will come a day in your future; maybe a few, where you’ll wonder if you are up to the task. If you can pass some obstacle in front of you. If you can conquer some challenge. If you can go some Seussian places you want to go.
You will wonder. You will pause. You will hesitate. You will question.
And when you do, I want you to read this. And then, I want you to call me. On the phone. Over whatever device is in vogue when that challenge presents itself. And when I’m past my life while you’re still living yours, close your eyes and picture me. Reading this to you.
There is absolutely nothing you can’t do. Because at age 6 and age 3, you took the greatest punch the world has seen in over 100 years. You took something that crippled towns, cities, states, countries. You took a haymaker that brought humankind to its knees. In days. To our collective knees.
You took that. And you brushed it off your shoulder in a way that would make Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Barack Obama proud. You wiped a drop off blood of your lip in a way that would make Bruce Lee, and every Saturday afternoon Kung Fu theater hero (as well as your Dada Fua) proud.
There has been so much discussion about the lockdown the world has experienced post COVID-19. Coronavirus. Corona – why us? There’s been some discussion about how resilient and adaptable human beings are. How if you had told us 3 months ago the way we’d be forced to live now, we’d never have been able to imagine it; and we certainly would have denied it would be possible .But when it happened, we adapted, and here we are.
Yes. Adaptable. Resilient.
But none of us are doing this adaptable thing, this resilient thing, with your grace.And that is precisely where I lose all ability to express myself.
I want to tell you how one night you went to bed, ready for the next day. Your ordinary next day. An Alexa alarm. Breakfast and drop-offs. School and play time. Somewhere between 9 and 10 hours, a super majority of your life, for a super majority of your days each week, you were immersed in a world that we got glimpses of when we opened your backpacks, checked logs and updates from your teachers, hears mentions of when you had the time, energy and interest.
One night you went to bed, ready to do all the things we told you that you had to do. When we dropped you off at daycare. When we celebrated your first day of school Make friends. Play nice. Listen to your teachers. Eat your meals. Be strong when you’re being bullied. Find strength when we aren’t there and when you feel like nobody else is, however fleeting. Do all these things because they are the most important things for you to learn now.
One night you went to bed knowing the next day was going to be filled with all those things.
And when Alexa woke you up that next day, we told you that wasn’t happening anymore. We told you that schedule, that way, wasn’t going to be the way. For a while.
If that had happened to me, I’d have needed a lifetime to plan, and a lifetime to prepare, and a lifetime to adjust; and I’d go through the motions and I’d do what I’m supposed to do.
But I don’t think, ever in my life, that I have operated with your grace. How can someone be so strong, so unwavering, so staunchly making progress, while doing so in a way that seems so effortless, so natural. You see, when I look at you, I don’t remember the way our life was 5 weeks ago. Because when I look at you, and observe you act, and watch you interact — I am only convinced that the way we’re living now is the only and obvious way we have been living all along.
When I look at my calendar. When I talk to people at work. When I read the news. Tonight is Sunday. Week 5 of quarantine. Poised for an even longer and more isolated road ahead. Into a new normal. Never returning to the way life was before. And it can be overwhelming.
When I look at you, though.
What are we doing today, Buhboo?
Thanks for grading our worksheets, Buhboo!
Yay, we get to watch a movie, Buhboo!
I didn’t like my dinner, Buhboo, but I’ll eat it for you, Buhboo!
When I’m with you, it’s Sunday. It’s just Sunday for you.
And you’ve found a way to make it “just Sunday” for me too.
You can’t see your friends. Except, maybe from across the street. You can’t hug your Nana, Nani, Dadi, Tito Foi. Your Mamu is living with us, upstairs, in the guest bedroom and the best you can do is let him know when you’re downstairs so he can step out to get the tray of food we’ve left outside his door.
You can’t go to the park. You can’t go for ice cream. You can’t go to Charlie Brown’s (yeah, by the way, we need to talk about how for most of your childhood your favorite restaurant was a terrible chain restaurant that indicates you share a palate and a thirst for ambience with people born in the 1940s).You can’t go to school. You can’t go to Tae Kwon Do. You can’t go to Dance Class. You can’t go to Bagels 4 U. You can’t go to Genus Boni. You can’t go to Shop Rite and you definitely can’t get the free cheese handouts there and at Whole Foods. You can’t … do … everything that brought you joy.
Yet you’re still, full of joy.
You are. Absolutely full of joy. It is because of you, I wake up with a bounce in my step excited about what we’re going to do today. Because of how you ask your questions, I focus on what we can and will do today; not what we can’t or can no longer.“Buhboo, what’s our plan for tomorrow?”
What an absolutely beautiful question; Warren Berger would adore it. “What is our plan for tomorrow” is more intrinsically hopeful than “What are all the things we can’t do tomorrow that we could have done 5 weeks ago?
”It’s been 5 weeks, and you’re still asking beautiful questions.
You’re making me see the beautiful.
Your laughs fill our house. Your cries do too; but if we were to put them on scales, there would be no contest in terms of which direction we’re tipping.I’m also watching you grow.
Anaiya: Yoga. Dance. Math. Reading. Mentoring. Eating. Breathing. Guiding. Defiance (I mean, you absolutely hate to lose at a level that would make Michael Jordan proud.) Love. The way you clutch my arm, at bedtime, at wakey time, and at so many times in-between, and hold it like it’s the last arm you’ll get to hold and hug on earth. I can’t help but feel that some of that has nothing to do with me, actually; you’re holding my arm so tightly because it’s the one place where all that’s been taken away from you is manifesting. And riding your bike with no training wheels. Yeah, that happened.
Jaanu: Dance. Gibberish. Letters. Tracing. Troubleshooting. Putting away dishes. Cleaning. Defiance (I mean, you absolutely hate being told what to do.) The way you proclaim to every person who’s ready to hear you that they are “the greatest in the history” is tagline and catchphrase I hope you never lose. I can’t help but feel that you’re expressing that as a way of defining a new baseline for history, and helping people find positivity and feel special in this altogether new way of being.
I’m words, sentences, paragraphs in; and as you can see, I’ve written so much, and I’ve said so little that captures how proud I am of you. How honored I am to be your Dad, your Buhboo.1,000 poets. 1,000 words a day. 1,000 years.
Even when, as a family, we experience the most extraordinary of losses, you find a way to bring love, to comfort, to hug and support — videos weren’t designed to have this kind of impact and sincerity. You have managed to make video feel human and intimate.
Consolation is something you give to people. After loss. After disappointment. Right now, as I read what people write and say and share; I feel an excessive amount of consolation. I see a world full of people acknowledging loss and disappointment and sadness; and from that, trying to force a rose to bloom from concrete.
Consolation is what I see and hear in every interaction.
Except the ones I have with you.
With you, it’s “just Sunday”.With you, it’s “what IS our plan?”
With you, it’s not resilience. Or adaptability. Or perseverance.
With you, it’s not about the new normal.
With you, it’s just what’s next. Your ability to make everything that is, seem natural; and to make what’s next, seem possible. Is what makes me, so uncontrollably humbled and so infinitely proud, and so eternally enamored.
So when that hill, or that mountain, or that sea, or that valley, shows up in your way. I want you to call me. On your phone. On your <<unnamed device>>. On your memory.
And I want you to hear me. Loudly. Clearly.
The world handed you the worst the world has handed anyone. And you flicked, brushed, dusted, and resumed. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for you.
Thank you, my children. Thank you, my kids. Your Mama and I wish the rest of the universe had you to wake up to, you to bring tomorrow’s schedule to, you … to look forward to.
Because then, they’d all be as happy, as proud, as hopeful, as we are.(And just as speechless.)How much do I love you? More than anything.
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).
That’s the 12.T
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.
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.
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.
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.
You turned 4 today. You have been magic from before day 1. The fact that you will never be 3 again crushes me and brings me to my knees. But we also know that with every day you grow older, you come one step closer to changing the whole darned world. You started with all of us.
On your birthday this year, you’re expanding your impact by giving to kids and strangers you’ve never met before (thank you Daymaker!)
#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for you every darned day. Even when we’re strict. Know that hurts us more than it hurts you. Love you, bbcc. Magic. Pumpkin. Sona baccha. Princess. Neeya.
You fill up every ounce of space the world gives you with love, life, laughter, and sometimes, some powerful gas. But we’re good.
What you are doing for Jaanu in this pic is what you do for all around you. Smile. Laugh. Support. Lift up. And perhaps most inconspicuously…fall to the background.
You’ve raised an amazing daughter who u am lucky enough to call a wife. You have taught her to expect the best and that she deserves to be treated like royalty. All by example. We love you, Dad. Happy 70th. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the bar you have set.
This…is literally all that matters in the world. We look at all the insanity out there and we just try our darnedest to make sense of it. And we can’t. And the problem is…it’s all layers of artifice. Opinions stacked upon interpretations stacked upon assumptions stacked upon baggage.
Which is why life gets hard.
You know when life gets easy?
When you watch this video. And you see Anaiya express just precisely how she feels about one of the most important people in her life. One of the two people who her brother was named after. It’s just pure love.
And it brings out the best in my family and it turns my Dad, one of the purest and sincerest people, the person I know whose heart is most always on his sleeve, the person we know who is unfamiliar, downright allergic to formality and artifice…it brings out the best in him and the happiest in him. We were happy to be there for it. Jaan made it pretty far. But on the eve of Dad’s Birthday, Anaiya hung out quite late and is about to make her way to bed.Guess who she is sleeping with?Dadaji and Dadaji.Game, set, match. On love and life.#iamgrateful and #iathankful for all of it.
7 years ago today, Priya KC Bhatt and I had our legal wedding ceremony. Intimate with literally only immediate family. Our wedding fell just after Thanksgiving so as a result, we rarely celebrate the big wedding day (we prefer to hang with fam and friends.)
Which is what makes this day so special. It’s been a whirlwind 7 years. Into and out of Charlotte. Into and out of Jersey City. Into and out of a good number of jobs along the way (I definitely carry my weight in one area.) Two, ridiculous kids that fill up the world and make everything good, possible.
But today, after a great weekend with friends, made possible AGAIN by the Family that spoils us rotten, I found myself with an itch that needed to be scratched. I’ve gained weight. Only my hair and patience have thinned. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. But I continue to fly through certain aspects of my life like it is. 7 years ago I promised you, Priya, that I would spend every moment loving you more and making sure each day was happier than the last.
Part of that is how I treat the world. Part of that is making sure I am here and healthy to treat you all like you deserve until the end of time.I woke up this morning and realized that though it’s been a wonderful and incredible 7 years, I need to do more, be better, to live up to my promises so we can live up to our potential.And it had me itching to start on that progress now.
So let’s indulge in our anniversary dinner. And then, with FB as my witness, I am going to scratch the hell out of this itch, and make sure the next 7 years are better than the last 7.
I am 42 and I feel the same way. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for this kid nailing the most sincere and adorable truth about Moms. Amen. And holy hell is this kid ridiculous, passionate, and downright inspiring with his love! Thanks for the share Stefanie McGovern Buonavolta Also, when is Mom NOT life?
What Todd Heap is going through, I can’t fathom. I read his story and got bleary eyed. I simply can’t fathom it. This story, was a nice jolt of feel good good gesturing. The Steelers and the Ravens are, bitter rivals. To hear fans talk about the other team, and the other fans, would make you question and wonder whether NFL Football fandom is healthy. But then you read this article.
And you see how they put aside sporting rivalries when it matters, and how all that competitive spirit is built on a foundation of mutual respect — there’s something nice and redemptive about it. With our increased polarization, and with the echo chambers we can easily find ourselves in, I wonder if we’re getting a little bit worse at respectful rivalries, and respectful discourse. So let’s go ahead and do this for Holly and #HugsforHollyDay.
#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the simple, pure, classy example set by both Tomlin and Bisciotti. Just good people looking out for good people.