Tag Archives: thankful

DADDY | “THANK YOU. FOR EVERYTHING.” or THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING

“Thank you. For everything.”

48 years. Culminating in four words. Whispered into one ear. Punctuated by a warm kiss. On the still frozen but rapidly thawing cheek. Of the eternal, undeniable love of her life. Before the doors to that ambulance closed. And their physical bodies said goodbye. Forever.

You want to talk about grace? You want to talk about dignity? You want to talk about honoring a legacy? You want to talk about strength?

Mom. Is incredible.

When I was conceived, my mother gave me strength by her own nourishment. When I was born, my mother gave me strength from her milk. When I was a fat kid with a short temper and a penchant for being ridiculed, she gave me strength through her love. When I was a barely competent high schooller, she gave me strength with her faith. When I was struggling at work, she gave me strength through her reinforcement. When I was struggling to find love, she gave me strength by her understanding. When I was struggling with peace and patience as a parent, she gave me strength with her time.

When I lost my Daddy, she gave me strength with her words and her example. Her final words to him as we pulled away in the ambulance toward the crematorium.

No “why did you leave us.” She thought it. She thinks it. I am sure.

No “what will we do.” She thought it. She thinks it. I am sure.

No “How will I go on.” She thought it. She thinks it. I am sure.

Just.

Thank you.

For everything.

“@#%&?! How is she doing this?”

Our truest self come out at our most vulnerable of moments.

Being grateful. Being thankful. That’s my mom’s truest self.

Thank you, Mom, for giving Anu KiranPriya KC Bhatt and I strength.

Yesterday we held a Celebration of Life ceremony for Daddy. Mom’s example. Her strength allowed us to make the ceremony about saying thank you to Daddy, for the people he influenced. But also, hopefully, everyone who was there, walked out feeling equally celebrated and thanked. They deserve it.

For 48 years, Family and friends showered our parents and our family with love and support. Bringing a lifetime of smiles to our faces. Helping Daddy leave this world at the height of happiness.

To all of you, there in spirit or in person, thank you for everything.

Life is only going to get more real. It’s not going to stop. It’s not going to get worse. It’s just going to get more real. More finite. Everything that happens now for me comes fully contextualized. As someone who enjoys storytelling, I say that before 2/4, life felt like it only had a beginning and a middle—I now know there’s an end. Not academically. Not an end I can’t empathize with because I’m in my early 20’s. An end that’s all too real because I’m in my 40’s and I’m a dad.

If I have any advice to give, it’s to work deliberately and urgently. Make use of photo albums. Not as a way to remember faces that are gone, but to add vivid back story to people who are here. Hug. Love. Celebrate. Talk to and about the people you love like you would if you knew you’d lost them, and then been granted that one last chance. Silly sh*t. Who cares. Do it.

Yesterday I asked honestly, what I’ve been asking for the past month: is it truly better to have loved and lost. I’ve been struggling with that. This pain is so exceptional, it doesn’t feel like it. It’s compounded by the simple fact of how much my parents loved each other. I sometimes wish now that they were less in love.

But that’s silly. It’s ignoring 48 years of life for what remains.

It is better to have loved and lost. Especially if you find someone who looks at you the way Daddy always looked at Mom.

DADDY | 3-6

Thank you, Mom. For your example and your strength.

Thank you, Family and friends, for your love and support.

And thank you Daddy…

…for always looking at Mommy this way.

We’ll be fine. I know we will. Because Mom said so.

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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TYMMPB… | #iamgrateful and #iamthankful

Two years ago I hit a rough spot at work. I have many of those. I hope one day I can explain why … so you don’t have those yourself.

Two years ago, I hit a rough spot at work, and I made an active choice. I was going to spend every some time every single day talking about what made me grateful and what made me thankful.

I did this for a long time.

About a year later, we realized we were going to have you.

And today, two years later, here we are. Here you are. And you’ve plugged yourself into the perfect place. You are the love your sister’s life, from moment one; and your mother and I feel the same.

TYMMPB | November

Two years removed, I look at this moment and say unequivocally: #iamgrateful and #iamthankful. I say I am, and I tell you Jaanu, no matter how I may act in precise moments, I always and I always will be. You (and your sister) have made certain of it.

Today you make me proud because, today, you have given me yet another reason to be forever grateful and forever thankful.

I love you, homie. We were a family before you; but we are only a complete family because of you.

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PDA | Love in the Time of Shoulder Surgery

To the general reader: I am really not sure how to begin to tell you how lucky I am. So I’ll start by telling you about a bit of bad luck.

January 30th, 2012
I’m not wise beyond my years, but I’m certainly old beyond my years. When my shoulder pain hit a level where rest and cortisone shots weren’t helping, it was time to investigate further. Hearing doctor after doctor say things like “How did something like this happen to you” or “We usually don’t see this in patients under 50” kinda sucks. Perhaps the doctors thought they could alleviate my physical pain by focusing on psychological torture? If so, very innovative. Kudos.

On Monday, January 30th I went in for surgery on my right shoulder, my dominant hand. Orthopedists have told me this is one of the most painful procedures they perform, not because of the surgery itself, but because of the recovery:

  • In a sling for 4-6 weeks
  • Not able to be on a treadmill/elliptical for 6-8 weeks
  • Full strength at 6 months
  • PT 3x a week all the way through

This was going to require commitment. As I learned, the real commitment was not going to come from me.

Little/Big Things
What is love? Does it ever peak? Does it morph and transform? Is it like an old, favorite book? One that is beautiful at first because of its substance, but grows more beautiful over time because of everything else? Because it’s been your favorite for so long? Because the lines and creases give it character that’s uniquely yours? Because the words haven’t changed, but what they mean has changed with you?

I don’t know how to define it. I’m 36. Cut me a break.

I don’t know how to define it but I have borne witness to it, delivered fully, placed at my feet, swaddling me through the past few weeks—all at the hands of my amazing and extraordinary wife.

This story needs no embellishment, no creative license, no artistic flair. It merely needs accurate and honest context, and documentation of facts.

First, it is important for you to know about my wife’s work life. She is an investment banker. Except for the two weeks we were traveling through India and the UAE, from before Thanksgiving through this very week, she has worked 100+ hours a week. That’s at least 15 hours a day, 7-days a week. We expect it to continue. Awesome.

Next, you need to understand my circumstances post-surgery. Imagine what you’d do with the temporary loss of your dominant hand. I tried to simulate the experience before my surgery so I could troubleshoot what I may need to have in order to exist post-surgery. I failed because I overestimated my abilities and underestimated my limitations.

Off the top of my head, here are some of the things she did for me…in the first 24 hours:

She did these while taking work calls and lugging around her laptop looking for hotspots. These are some of the little/big things she did. Little for her because she thinks nothing of it. Big for me because without them I would have been, in-order: blind, hurt, disconnected, and naked.

My Guardian Angel
I never really thought about the phrase “Guardian Angel” before. I thought of the term “Dark Angel” before, but mostly because it is how the world met Jessica Alba. But “Guardian Angel”, what an apropos term for my wife. She’s both my “guardian”, someone who has protected me and cared for me through my recovery, and my “angel”, a benevolent, attending spirit.

As I’ve watched my wife care for me with grace, sincerity, and such instinct and intuition, I am infinitely proud and happy to share that more than once she has moved me to tears.

….She refused to sleep in our bed. I have to sleep on a recliner to protect my shoulder. So she slept on the couch next to me. Every time I shifted in my seat, adjusted my strap, coughed…my wife’s upper body would pop-up from the pillow and a feathery, luminous, graceful voice would elevate slightly higher “Hi Baby”. She acknowledged me and supported me in the way I prefer to be supported. Every. Single. Time.

….She insists on taking me to Physical Therapy. So we wake up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:30 am so she can drive me to PT, sit with me there for 90 minutes, drive me back home, get ready for work, and then head out the door as soon as she possibly can. In the beginning, when I was taking meds, she would wake up earlier and make me some sort of breakfast so my stomach could, well, stomach the meds.

….She makes me presentable. I couldn’t think of a way to say it better. She showers me. She gets my toothbrush ready. She has to put on my deodorant. She has to dress me since I still have a wicked hard time even getting a T-shirt on. She has to do this at 5:30 when we head to PT, and then again before she leaves for work. In the midst of getting herself ready, she has me to take care of as well.

….She smiles the entire time. If you’re reading this you know my wife, and if you know my wife you know her smile. Whether 2am for a Percocet fix (usually accompanied by some food or beverage as outlined above), 7am while she’s watching me struggle through lifting my shoulder, Noon, whenever possible, when she tries to bring me lunch…whenever, whatever, however…she smiles. Even when her eyes have been open for an unreasonable streak of consecutive hours…her face smiles at me.

She makes me feel, every single day, that everything is going to be ok. And you know what, it is. My life is so very much better than ok. Because of her.

Luck Be My Lady
It’s been a tough couple of weeks purely related to my ability to function, day-to-day, independently. I’ve never experienced it before. Yet over that same period, I saw the most beautiful and amazing woman in the world taking care of me in a way I did not think was possible. In return, and surprising to me, I found myself willing to give in completely.

We all take our mom’s and sister’s for granted because they have always been there, they have always done for us, and they are our family—they are us, they did not choose us. With my wife, however, it is something different. On June 1st 2010 we finished navigating years of living, masses of people, expanses of land, millions of experiences … and we picked each other, forever.

There’s no self-deprecating comment for me to make here. She chose me, she loves me, and because of her choice I feel like the luckiest man alive (“feel like”, lest I diminish the sentiments of others who are lucky enough to feel the same.)

Priya, you are extraordinary.

9:40am(-ish), 2/1/2012
You were exhausted. You had worked late the night before. You had no sleep that night. You woke up at 5:45am to wake me up at 6am so you could feed me, dress me, medicate me before we got on the road at 6:45am for my first PT appointment. You also had a critical 10am meeting you needed to get into the office for.

I, of course, slept through the night.

You got everything ready. You helped me undress. You bathed me, taking extra care to avoid all the gadgets, drips, bandages, and wounds on my neck and shoulder. You dressed me. You did all of the same for yourself, alternating fluidly between me and you, you and me.

You might remember what happened next, you might not. I do. I watched it all with wonder.

You had just spent about a minute helping me put a T-shirt on. A full minute. You then watched me put my sling on. Trying to pull one loop over my head, strap the other around my waist, and make sure the padding attached to my sling that is used to keep my forearm straight hadn’t decided to go rogue. You knew I wanted to do this myself, I felt like I had to do this myself. So you stood right by me with your hand on my other shoulder, just encouraging.

Time.
Ticking.
Away.

I made it work and you patiently supported me through, even though my efforts led to a 2-inch velcro driven scratch down the middle of my forehead (it’s finally disappearing). After I put the sling on, I turned to you…

…and I broke down for a moment in your arms.

I broke down because you were shouldering our burdens—not just yours, and not just mine, but ours. You were doing all of the work. You were meeting me all-the-way. You were my wife, my nurse, my cook, my therapist, my eyes, my hands; you were literally my everything and you made me realize how lucky I was to have someone to lean on so fully and completely.

Tuesdays
Have you read Tuesdays with Morrie? I have, and I thought it was great. I’m not sure how many people one meets in heaven. And I remember rooting against the Fab Five when I was growing up. But in “Tuesday’s with Morrie”, Mitch Albom wrote a simple, emotional, beautiful book. I’m pretty sure most of the people in my life read it because Oprah told them to. I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

I read TwM years ago, when I was even less of an adult and less of a man. My reflections and memories of the book are now a random snippet of still shots, words and phrases, and even self-produced video clips based on the images and senses conjured by the words on paper. Of those memories, the single most powerful revolves around this quote:

“Take my condition. The things I am supposed to be embarrassed about now — not being able to walk, not being able to wipe my ass, waking up some mornings wanting to cry — there is nothing innately embarrassing about them. It’s the same for women not being thin enough, or men not being rich enough. It’s just what our culture would have you believe. Don’t believe it.”

Let me explain. For all intents and purposes I am fully capable of wiping my own backside. As some members of Fuqua’s Class of 2006 can attest, I am also the only person who has ever done this (entertaining story). But this quote resonated with me because it reminded me of my Ba (paternal grandmother), who lived with us for 17+ years, fully bedridden.

I read TwM a few years after my Ba had passed. TwM was anchored in my memory of her, her condition, her experience. Morrie was my Ba. TwM triggered sympathetic emotions because of this association, and my relationship with this book has continued as such for most of the past decade. I viewed Morrie’s lack of embarrassment as a concession, something he had to do because he had no other choice. I thought it was an amazing man simply finding a way to deal.

A couple of weeks ago, things changed.

Thank You
I’ve reflected on Morrie’s quote over the past few weeks and find myself relating to his words in a very new way. There were so many moments when you were doing all of the little things for me, where I felt like an absolute child. I was completely in your hands.

And the entire thing felt completely natural. Utterly comfortable. The furthest thing from embarrassment. With each new thing that I could not do and that I needed you to do for me, I realized that I was luckier than even I had imagined on our wedding day. I had found that person who would shield me from pain, doubt, and embarrassment for the rest of our lives together. In you, I found the contentment that Morrie discussed in his final days.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Birthday, Baby. But more importantly, thank you. Thank you for helping me feel capable at my weakest, privileged at my neediest, and loved all the way through.

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