It’s funny how certain experiences stick with you. And its interesting how you can easily categorize them as happy or fateful or downright ugly moments of your life. I have many that seamlessly fall under the latter. QUIET. A. FEW. actually.
Like the time when I was the only female in a group of campers and how miserably I got drunk. Luck was totally and (un) derservingly on my side. Two members in this group turned into guardian angels and protected, nursed me back to a sober state. Trust me, it is one of those “what was I thinking” memories. To this day, I am looking at ways to repay the angels.
This morning as I drive into work, I think of one of the experiences that continues to stick. Soon I am fighting back tears. Circa 1996, when I was in full battle mode with my parents and practically everybody in my immediate family. The reason for this dissent-I was in love with someone who they considered to be a loser (he turned out to be one-but this isn’t important now). What was planned to be restful break for me, turned out to be fraught with intense quarrels, emotional outbursts and ultimately a visit cut shorter. I couldn’t take the tension. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why my parents hated my then boyfriend so much (hindsight is indeed 20/20). I couldn’t bear to stay one more day, I couldn’t tolerate no one. I felt unloved, misunderstood and achingly lonely.
Around the same time, my maternal grandma was fighting a tough battle with Alzheimer’s. It was ravaging her. Her caregivers, mainly my father and his siblings were rapidly losing hope. She didn’t recognize anyone anymore, was thin like a reed and spent most of her time in her room, fidgeting, murmuring to herself. It was clear her time was limited.
With bags packed to leave, I stepped into her room. She was resting. I sat on her bed and started massaging her feet. She woke up, looked at me and with a toothless smile said, don’t worry, majoni, everything will be fine. There was no glimmer of recognition on her face. She had no clue who I was. Yet there she was, blessing me, giving me the strength, love and support I so badly craved for. Copious tears overwhelmed me. I remember vividly hugging her frail, bony body tightly for a few precious moments.
That was the last time I saw my Aita. She crossed over a few months later. This incident will remain with me forever. Every time I reflect about it, I remember walking out of her room, into the car taking me to the airport. I was an emotional wreck with everything that had transpired but after that brief but profound moment with Aita, I felt brave and tenacious to conquer the challenges that lay ahead of me.
This is a story that neatly gets tucked into the fateful category. A circumstance I needed to experience to appreciate life’s accidental lessons. It taught me, in that very moment, that one can find love, light and encouragement in the most unexpected places. It teaches me now that life, in its own sneaky way, forced me to step aside from my seemingly monumental quandary to acknowledge someone dying. Someone who played an important role in shaping me. Who in that moment, however lost or delusional she may have been, was a goodhearted soul and how privileged I was to have had her in my world.