Goodbye, Nanu

On October 6th, I woke up to a phone call in the middle of the night from my little brother (turns out I previously missed 3 calls from my other brother) to tell me that my Nanu (grandma) had passed away.

I had just barely gone to bed about an hour or so earlier, so I woke up very disoriented and uncertain if our interaction was real or if I was still asleep.

Once it was quite clear that it was all real, I could not go back to sleep.

I prayed, watched the sunrise, and then found myself unexpectedly sobbing quite loudly. Unexpected because I’m not normally a loud crier. I allowed myself to grief before pulling myself together and reminding myself that crying loudly would just hurt her soul.

As the day progressed, I thought about many memories I have had with my Nanu. Even though I have grown up most of my life physically away from all of my grandparents, I have been lucky enough to spend much of my childhood visiting them and blessed enough to have them stay with us during various parts of my pre and early teen years.

This is the last photo I have of us, it was taken nearly 8 years, and prior to that, I had not seen her in 14 years. Even with so much distance, my grandma and I had a special bond. I was her first/eldest grandchild, and with that comes a connection no one else can replace.

My grandma spent most of her adult life without a spouse, as my grandfather passed away 31+ years ago. For a woman of her generation, she was fiercely independent. She lived her life on her terms till the very end. She never took NO for an answer and she never let anyone tell her what to do. She was so gutsy and ballsy that she defied every stereotype a woman of her generation tends to get attributed to. She was stubborn and sometimes controversial. If she said she was going to do something, she was going to do it and no one was going to get in her way. And she never shied away from expressing her need for absolute freedom (in every part of her life).

I never thought of all of these things in as much detail as I have in the 19 hours since the passing. And I am slightly alarmed and pleasantly surprised at just how much of her is in me.

Whenever we spoke on the phone/video, she would ask me when I was coming to visit her and that she would surely die before I did. I just rolled my eyes and thought she was being ridiculous – as we grandchildren tend to do with our grandparents.

Funny thing, I had every intention to visit in 2020 – to see her, to see my family home that my dad built. But no one could have predicted the twists and turns the last year took.

It further instills in me that we need to stop waiting for a moment in the future to do the things we can and want to do NOW. The past can never be repeated and the future is not guaranteed any further than the millisecond you are experiencing at this very moment. Yet, most of our life is spent mulling over the past or planning for the future. One is too late and the other is not guaranteed. We rarely spend time in the NOW, but this was something my nanu did very successfully.

I’m grateful that she did not suffer much or for long before passing. I’m grateful that she is finally with my nana-bhai and although I’ll never be able to tell her so and certainly did not tell her enough when she was alive, I love her and will miss her dearly.

Sometimes we have to lose someone to realize how blessed we were to have them in the first place.

Death is such a natural and inevitable part of life, but when someone leaves us, we are caught in the crossfire of distraught and disbelief.

Life is just filled with fleeting moments.

Life is short, even when it’s long; it’s utterly temporary and yet — we spend our whole lives attempting to prove something, usually to someone else.

Live life for you, no one else, that’s what my Nanu did and it absolutely makes sense.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un

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