Today is 11 March. It is the birthday of my father-in-law. He passed away 4 years ago now. Wow. 4 years.
He didn’t get to see us married. Or even engaged. He didn’t see it when we bought and built our house. When we got our full-time jobs. When we started our business.
But the thing is, rather than let this be a sad post, it’s a realistic post. At least, in the way I have learnt to deal with grief.
I haven’t actually experienced a death before my father-in-law. The closest is probably meeting my paternal grandmother when I was 5. I still remember her. But I was 5. And she didn’t speak English. I did. We spoke in gestures and smiles and I truly loved her. If I close my eyes I can still smell her scent. She passed away several years afterwards, but that was when she had already gone back to her homeland of Bangladesh, and I hadn’t seen her in years. I had grown up to be around 9 years old. I didn’t understand grief. I knew it was sad. I saw what it did to my dad. But I didn’t understand it.
The first time I saw a dead body was when I saw one of my friend’s parents pass away from lung cancer. I was about 10 at the time. I saw this chubby man disinitegrate to a thin one. A scarily thin one. And when I saw him after he passed, I hardly recognised him. I was a little afraid, but mostly, I didn’t understand.
I don’t think I fully understood the circumstances when my father-in-law died. I was 20 at the time. I knew the mechanics. I knew he had oesophageal cancer. I knew it was the worst stage. I knew it had spread to his lungs. I knew that chemotherapy and radiotherapy were the only hope, a small hope. And I understood when, approximately 6 weeks after diagnosis, the news that it had spread to his brain was bad. I knew after he had a stroke, that it was the end. What I didn’t know though, was that the end didn’t necessarily need to come immediately. He stayed for another week. In a coma, but he was there. He knew when we were there.
I’m not trying to make this a sad post. I’m … reflective. I haven’t been able to write words like this yet. It’s all been in my head. It’s been raw. But this is probably the first time I can write about it without sobbing. That hasn’t stopped my eyes welling up though.
I’m not sure what the point of this post is, but I suppose if I had to give a reason, it is that life goes on. So much has happened in the last 4 years. But at the same time, that grief stays with you. It always will. But the hurt that has happened whenever I think of him, has slowly began to be replaced by happiness. The happiness caused by celebrating a life. A beautiful life, a beautiful soul. My father-in-law was amazing. I wish he was here. I really do. I miss him. But avoiding to think about him is wrong. I don’t want to lose his memory.
I am so happy that I knew him. I am so happy that he was a part of my life for several years. I love him and I know that he looks over us. So, today, for his birthday, I am going to be happy. In previous years it has hurt. But this year I am going to be happy. Because, it is his birthday.