"I wish Dad had been here..." our older son said a couple of months ago. It was at the school citation ceremony, a rite of passage at the end of his journey as a school student. I was gutted by the little catch in his voice when he said it. This was a big moment in his life and it carried the pain of absence of a doting father - the missing pride, the embarrassingly loud embrace, the celebratory whoops of joy, the jolly optimism at the beginning of a new journey. I couldn't compensate. It brought home the innumerable times we had each thought it but didn't say it out loud, the many times we would think it in the future...in moments big and small. It summed up all the times we had, with tempered grief, said, "Dad would have loved/hated this...this was Dad's favourite...Dad would have said..." trying to make the absent present.
I used to count days, now it is too small a measure. At the two year milestone, we are acutely aware that time has passed. It has accumulated in new memories, personal breakthroughs, significant incidents, small and big problems and triumphs, a calibrated response to joy and anger...time has put a number on how long we have survived without him in our lives.
I have been told several times over the past two years that time heals. Maybe it does, I will not dispute that. Personally, I believe that time passes regardless of your stillness, resistance or readiness. Hours become days, days become months and months turn into years...but true healing only happens when there is an emotional distance from a life changing event such as the death of a loved one. I have not travelled very far in those terms. I frequently find myself in the waiting room of the hospital on that seismic night, unconsciously rocking back and forth, unbidden prayers rising from my lips even as I bargain for second chances, making promises I realize will be impossible to keep. I know how it unfolds, each time is the same...yet, two years on, I still sit in the waiting room and wish Shekhar was here.
The time has not come true,
the words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony
of wishing in my heart...
But the lamp has not been lit
and I cannot ask him into my house;
I live in the hope of meeting with him;
but this meeting is not yet.
From Waiting by Rabindranath Tagore