It’s been over a year since I lost my mom. Her death has changed me a lot, in ways I couldn’t ever imagine. We were never close and there was hardly any conversation between us for as long as I can remember. I come from a dysfunctional family and the only thing we knew was, that despite everything, there was love, and may be that’s what kept us grounded and secure. So here I’m writing about the lessons I learned from her death. I know it might seem strange that I’m writing something so close to my heart as a listicle but somehow that’s what helps me clarify my thoughts.
1) You do things for people you love and trust, even if it’s against your very being – I had shared last year how we donated her body for medical research purposes. My mother was an extremely religious person and a staunch believer in rituals. But she agreed to it (of course after much convincing) because it was my father’s wish to do so. I have seldom come across a more rational and practical man than my father. It was her faith in him which made her do so. While my father being a non-believer in rituals, temples and all things God, never stopped her from doing her own thing.
2) Declutter – I was given the task of clearing out her belongings. And it is one of the toughest things I have had to do even though I would help with decluttering my parents’ house once in a while. Yet, while clearing out I realised how much stuff had been hoarded. Stuff that hasn’t been used in years and stuff which would never be used. What’s the point of holding on to so many things? Ever since then, I have been decluttering my house. From earrings that I had gathered since my college days that don’t match my sensibilities anymore to extra dabbas that I was holding on to, I started to just give away. The idea is to take out one day every quarter to declutter.
3) Kindness – I know it sounds cliched and probably compassion and kindness are the most widely words used in the recent past. But I only truly understood it’s meaning and how being kind towards yourself and others can make things slightly better – she was one of the kindest souls I have ever known. I learned that it doesn’t take much to be kind. I feel lighter and control my anger way better. And yes, it was a realization that came to me when the truth of our impermanence, settled in.
4) Opening your heart to pets – I adopted Leo about 8 months post my mom’s death. Kabir had been after my life since the age of 2 for a pet but I was never sure about it. Leo was this cute little stray kitten and my heart melted the moment I saw him. I thought I’m going to give Leo a home and nurture him, little did I know that it was him who healed me. I saw my father who was against pets for 70 years of his life, looking forward to pet and spend time with him. Pets teach you to open your hearts. And yes, it has nothing to do with her death but it was a trigger for me to adopt one.
Honestly, this article didn’t start out with any purpose in mind. I think it was just my way of honouring and remembering my mother and, at the same time, addressing my guilt of not being a good enough daughter.