Laxmi Nair’s father’s ill health and eventual passing away opened her up to the realisation of non-attachment and surrender as well as divine grace
My father was diagnosed with 90 per cent renal failure in December 2004 and was undergoing dialysis thrice a week. It drained him of his energy, with the impact of drawing blood showing on his frail body. He was usually withdrawn except during eating, as he appreciated good food and great company. Two years later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Doctors suggested surgery as treatment. It was a complicated surgery since he was diabetic, had high blood pressure, and was also a dialysis patient.
Post-surgery recovery was painful, as the hospital nurse had administered drips in error which rendered him breathless in a few minutes. Thanks to my mom’s presence of mind, she informed our family doctor, who immediately called the hospital and asked them to perform dialysis. After that, he was administered high saturated levels of oxygen due to persistent breathing difficulties. There was a huge oxygen mask on his face (bigger than usual), and since he was in extreme pain, he kept moving his hands and legs while trying to remove the mask off his face and the other wires he was hooked on to. To prevent this, they took the extreme step to tie his hands and legs to the bed. We were beyond our wits, trying to control our tears, else they would have asked us to leave his room.
The world came crashing down upon us, just going through that night, which felt like one lifetime; it was unbearable to see my father this way. That day, I felt pain and a certain numbness even without being physically hurt or wounded. They removed the mask sometime around midnight with my mother beside him all through, like a rock.
A few days later, he was discharged with a urinary catheter tied at his waist inside his shirt and the operation wound still bleeding. With great relief, I drove him back home just wanting to take him away from the depressing hospital atmosphere to the warmth of our home, which I was sure would heal him faster. While trying to support him onto his feet, I saw blood on the car seat. It was a sign of more to come in the days ahead. We had to steel ourselves for the next few months as he got mentally disoriented and went through deep bouts of hallucinations: an effect of high doses of medicines, dialysis, and, especially, post-operative trauma.
His emotions would switch without reason; he was like a kid most of the time, and then sometimes we would find him crying. When he was calmer, he would smile and we looked forward to those moments with him. There were also times when he would get aggressive, and it was difficult to keep him from walking out of the door. He would tell us, “They are coming to get me; I need to run away to someplace safe.” We had to make him believe that we were a part of that same world and that it was far safer inside at home. During such times of despair, I thought of every single thing I could do to get my dad back to being normal. Though I was left feeling helpless, it made me realise the true meaning of surrender and faith.
Though these times were tough, our mother wore all hats and ensured her family remained sane. She had accepted the situation and was doing everything possible to make every day as normal as it could be. Prayers and faith in the universal force that this was happening for a reason gave us comfort during these times.
By the grace of God and my master, this period of hallucinations stopped surprisingly two months later. Dad woke up one morning at 5 a.m. and had his morning tea with my mother, as had been their routine, where they would catch up on the previous day’s happenings or else just sit in silence enjoying their tea together. When we woke up that day, it felt like the last two months were a dream, and we could feel a wave of relief when we saw our father back in form. He told us, “I had this dream early morning, where I saw our ancestral goddess come on a white horse and bless me, after which I woke up.” He did not remember a thing about the ordeals of the last two months. It was like that time was wiped out of his memory.
He then went on to live a quality life with minor issues for almost two years post that surgery. After all that he had gone through, we wanted to see him leading a good life and not quitting in the midst of issues. Sometimes, I wonder if I was selfish to think that way, but those two years helped both my dad and us prepare for the end. We had got good paying jobs by then and wanted to give our father the best we could in all aspects. We did manage to do that by the grace of God, though there would always be something more that could have been done.
Accept and move on
The time we got post his surgery helped us understand that though we will always want the best for our loved ones, when the time comes, we should allow them to leave in peace and not cling to them. It allows them to depart with grace and helps them in their journey to the next realm. I remember reading a quote by Herman Hesse that really resonated with me: “Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” Another realisation was that however much we may be able to provide in terms of care, hospitalisation and the best of doctors, their body is in pain and suffering. This impacts them mentally and emotionally as well. We may be able to delay the end but not change it. In such cases, we should accept the truth, aid them in whatever way possible, and not cling to them emotionally.
I have to thank God and my master for helping us through these rough times. I visited my master just a week before my father passed away, when I broke down into tears. I don’t recall crying like that before or after. Her warm hug comforted me, and through her silence, I just knew then that my father’s journey to the next realm would come soon and will be taken care of.
The chariot of the Lord
When I was back, doctors had informed my mother that he was on the last rung of the ladder after being a fighter all along. A week later, my father passed away due to a cardiac arrest after having his morning tea. The moment I had been dreading all along happened, and I was mentally and emotionally prepared for it. A few months later, I dreamt of a full moon night, wherein I saw my master, father, and a white horse. I woke up feeling good and with the thought that my father was happy wherever he was.
A year later, after my father passed away, I visited my master again. It was late evening when, after meeting her, I came out and looked up at the sky. It was a full moon night. A few yards away, there was a goddess temple with a statue of the Sun Lord’s chariot with seven white horses on its roof. I walked away with a smile on my face.
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