I am not used to talking to others about my father. I am used to talking to my father about other people. It was so difficult first when people talked to me about memories of my father, etc. and talked about him as though he weren’t here–as though he were…gone. But it has been about 1.5 months since he passed, and about nine (wow, only nine?) since he fell ill and was lost to us. And I’m kind of accepting that he really is gone.
For a while I obsessively read everything I could about brain cancer. I second guessed my dad’s treatment. I wondered whether we could have done something differently. I was upset that my dad died when most people live or get good years, or even just good days. And then my mom asked me why–what the point was in ruminating on all of this obsessively, because it wouldn’t change anything. First I was shocked at that point of view–of course it made a difference whether we could have done something different–and then I realized she was right. She said in her mind his time had just come and that was all. And I think that’s a pretty good way of looking at it.
I am not really religious, but at my dad’s funeral someone else had organized a reading of Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita. And I wanted to understand what was in it that was comforting. My dad always loved the Gita and I learned from my uncle that their parents had really instilled reverence for it when they were young. It all seemed, and seems so abstract to me–translation of Hindu scripture always seems to contain a lot of lofty thoughts which are all mumbo-jumbo t me. For example, this chapter of the Gita begins by stating that material existence is like a banyan tree; its roots are upwards and branches downward. I will be honest that I don’t really understand that part. But the part I did understand is that life and death come to all beings, that our existence in this world is transitory, that one should strive for a state of detachment, and that–according to the Gita–the soul is immortal.
Anyway even though I do not totally understand the contents, going on YouTube and hearing it chanted with emotion brought me incredible peace–peace beyond the meaning of Gita. It made me feel that people have been dealing with these weighty issues of illness, death, and grief for as long as the human race has existed. People have always struggled to understand.
It was so surreal to be at my father’s funeral, with the Gita being read and him at the center of all this ceremony, and even there physically, but unreachable. I am crying as I remember and write this, and the feeling of awkwardness and aloneness as one by one we all eulogized him and he was lying there but could not hear us. I wanted to wake him up and ask him about the Gita. There was this incredibly awful feeling that everyone else was there together and the person who would always have been there with me was gone even though he was next to me. It all felt like it wasn’t real. I am sobbing now. I guess I am doing it again, what everyone has told me not to do, reliving it all over and over. I think it is time to end this blog entry now.