"Grief is love that has no place to go."
In the midst of bottomless sorrow, I see my brother sheepishly saying, "Sorry, Bunks!" forcing my love to ricochet back to me.
It's been nearly two weeks since he quit (there goes the anger again). How we are breathing, eating, sleeping, laughing, traveling, cooking, cleaning, and working is befuddling. The instinct that we need to find a new normal kicked in after the initial days of emotional paralysis. Our journey from there to wherever we are headed next is anything but easy.
For Ma, my brother was the heir and I am the spare.
He could do no wrong in her eyes. If I say something she doesn't agree with, the argumentative Sen gene takes command in her. When he said the same thing, "of course" was always her response. I'd follow up with a punch on his shoulder or a nastygram on WhatsApp. He would grin like a Cheshire cat, basking in the mother-son privilege. Endless hours in a transcontinental flight without wifi connection convinced me to brace upon landing because Ma couldn't possibly survive this.
Yet she did.
Ma's emotions represent the gamut of grief. She is incredulous that the God she trusts has dealt her this hand. She falls into unfathomable grief at how a nonagenarian mother was left behind and her son taken away. She is overwhelmed with survivor's guilt as she fluidly and uncontrollably moves through these emotions.
Despite her grief, Ma wants us to talk about Sandeep. She wants to listen to phone conversations but won't speak to anybody outside the immediate circle. I was hoping that her declining cognitive health would offer a protective buffer, but this grief is a monster.
She despairs for my sister-in-law - whom I call "Boudi" - and her son and daughter. Boudi is despondent for her own mother and mine.
Unable to find a home, our ricocheting love for Sandeep is congealing into Boudi's safety net as she redefines her anchors, recalibrates her dreams, sustains friendships, fills the gaps that my brother left, and forges new connections. It is evolving into the scaffolding we will use to support our niece and nephew and their families.
Ma has neither the opportunity nor the reserves to thrive. Helping her is much harder. Still, she said to me: your dad is working in the heavens and needs help so he called your brother. Boudi says she feels more sorry for him than for herself. Sandeep and Boudi's kids are barreling through their own loss to return to work.
Ma, Boudi, and the kids are teaching us that when their love can't find a home, grace is what buffets the grief.
It's frustrating when grief for the son, husband, father, and brother collide and we resort to "How could he?!" It is crushing when we realize that each of us has to get through this on our own. It is grace that is pushing all of us forward with a promise of a new normal.
Bunks, you were the first one to read my blog posts and send a thumbs up or a silly comment. I know you are looking over my shoulder as I write this because now you have special powers you never had before. Don't do mischief, use the powers wisely to help us find grace. You owe us that for pulling the worst prank ever and for declining to grow old with us.
I know I will find you in the blazing sky and blooming trees, in the setting sun and rolling hills, in the winter chill and the summer breeze. When I do, I will tell you that you will always remain the cherished heir and I am the blessed spare - blessed to have had you for as long as I did.