As I wrote last year, my wonderful Nani had Alzheimer's. In August she was hospitalised and I came to Calcutta to see her. She had no clear memory of me but with a lot of prompting from my mum and mama she remembered both my name and our connection. Even at her fuzziest she always began our meetings with the words 'Hello, darling' while she established who I was and how we were related. Having used those words in greeting for me as far back as I can remember I felt as loved by her this August as through my entire life.
Loss is not easy. 2016 was tough - both being a world citizen looked less attractive and watching a few friends lose parents was hard. It was a year when my Nani's memories turned further back into her own youth, leaving behind much of the present and past 60 years. Looping language and confusion over time of day and what was going on left this once vibrant person a shell of themselves. And all the illnesses of old age left their marks on her body.
And last Friday, the 6th of January, she slipped away after a rough time in the weeks before. I joined my parents, brother, mama (uncle), maiji (aunt) and cousin for her cremation and immersion on Saturday morning. We worked through our sadness in different ways, some stoically, some with tearful outbursts, all with pain. My lovely in laws gave me their home and attention and joined us to commiserate and console.
Back in the real world now with school and office and life moving on at breakneck speed, entirely oblivious to our loss. Mingled with the knowledge that she is free of her confusion and pain is our very real pain at the loss of her physical presence of her soft cheeks and kind eyes. So yes, we know this is better and no, that doesn't make it easier.
My way of coping is thinking of it as a better place - taking her spot on that lovely heavenly sofa, once again beside the love of her life, my nana. Joining in conversations with my other grandparents and all the people that loved her so. I can't yet fully talk about her and all the wonderful ways she enriched my life. My Nani - loved immensely and missed intensely.