For day 9 of the 30-day challenge, I have decided to write on prompt #26: Someone I miss the most. This might be the most difficult thing I write this month.
One week I will never forget is the week before I left for college. For most, this week is probably filled with lots of packing, goodbyes, and taking care of final things at home. I wasn’t able to do those things until the night before I moved, and it wasn’t because I had procrastinated.
Early one morning the week before I left for The University of Alabama in summer 2009, the phones would not stop ringing in my house. I remember all the ringing woke me up that morning, and I immediately knew something was wrong. Whenever my family gets nonstop phone calls, something bad is usually happening.
I remember hearing my mom crying and shouting over the phone. She was talking to one of her sisters in India. She was telling her sister that their father had died.
Like me, my mommy is a daddy’s girl. Until his death, she would call him regularly to see how he was doing. When he came to visit us a few times in Alabama, she would take him to work with her so she could make sure he was taken care of at all times. I remember one of my parents customers thinking we had an animal hiding in our store once; it was just my grandfather taking a nap in the back of the store – his snoring was very animal-like.
I was often intimidated by my Nana Ji (grandfather). He was very tall, more than 6 feet, and equally as smart. He always had wise things to say about everything, and had even taught himself how to speak and read English so he could travel and visit his daughters and their families who lived outside of India. My mom is, of course, in America, and one of her younger sisters lives in Canada. The rest of her siblings are still in India.
I remember my Nana Ji telling me to stop being afraid of things and just take chances. I always admired his strength.
But Nana Ji had his faults too. He smoked too much and had developed lung cancer. I remember the number of times I scolded him for smoking and would preach the possible consequences of his actions. He obviously always ignored me. When I first found out he died, I remember getting a little mad about this inside, as if I wanted to say “I told you so,” but I loved my grandfather too much to really blame his faults.
Earlier that same summer, my mom, brother, and I flew out to Canada to see my grandparents and my mom’s sister’s family. While I didn’t realize it when we went, the primary purpose of that trip was so that my mom could see her father. He was in the hospital, and seemed to be recovering somewhat from his surgeries and treatments, but I remember he never spoke anymore. My Nana Ji was normally very talkative, but when he was in the hospital, he was quiet, and I think he was always suffering from memory loss. I remember being very scared the last time I saw him.
So after we learned of my grandfather’s death, my parents began making arrangements to head to Canada as soon as possible. I was told to stay at home, but I refused to cry in front of my mother knowing it would only provoke her to cry harder, so I waited until she left for work, put in Click, which as you know from a few days ago is a movie that always makes me cry, and had a private crying session.
We left for Canada early the next morning in my parents’ red Toyota 4Runner. Yes, we drove all the way to Canada from Alabama. That evening, we pulled into my aunt’s house and for the next three days, I remember trying hard to be strong for my mother and being pained by her nonstop crying. My grandmother was even worse. She still falls apart at the mention of Nana Ji; she loved him immensely.
To this day, my Nana Ji’s funeral is the only funeral I’ve ever been to. He was cremated. I still have nightmares about the sounds of my mom and her sister screaming when they lit the fire.
My mom’s older brother, her eldest sibling, had taken a last-minute flight from India to be there for the funeral. Her other two sisters unfortunately couldn’t make it.
A day or two after the funeral, my dad, brother, and I drove back to Alabama. It was the day before I had to leave for college. My mom stayed in Canada for a few more weeks to be with her family, so I will always remember saying goodbye to her sooner than I expected.
So I spent most of the day before I left for college in a car riding back to Alabama. It was a mostly quiet ride. As soon as we got home, I began a frantic packing session. I also remember meeting up with my friends at Sonic later that evening, because they would never let me leave without a proper goodbye. My friends have always been supportive, and for that I am thankful.
This has been hard to write. I stopped several times, and I’m nearly in tears. When I first lost my grandfather, I remember spending a lot of time trying to be strong for my mom. I didn’t cry much until the funeral when everyone cried.
The picture here is of my Nani Ji and me on Father’s Day in 2006 or 2007. Almost a year after his death, I really broke down on Father’s Day. My family doesn’t know this, but that Father’s Day, I went to bed and cried for hours before I fell asleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about how that was my mother’s first Father’s Day without a father. It made me think about how devastated I would be if I lost my father; how devastated I was to have lost my grandfather.
Every now and then, I still break down and think about my grandfather. I didn’t have a very close relationship with my dad’s parents and was too young to remember much about their deaths, but I have always been close to my mom’s family.
This is still hard to talk about and write, but it helps to write about it. Writing is my favorite therapy. I thought a lot about this prompt for a while, and I decided I didn’t want to talk about the obvious people I miss beyond simply saying that I miss my parents, brother, boyfriend, and friends back home and can’t wait to see them over Christmas break.
Even though it has been almost five years since his death, I will always miss my Nana Ji.