I was introduced to grief when my father passed away suddenly. A police officer, who was on an official tour, passed away quietly, away from us, in harness. Why am I remembering him suddenly? With Father’s Day looming large today, I am feeling the void, which I realise has never been filled, even decades later.

The enormity of his loss had hit us all hard. My mother and my four siblings, yes we were so many of us, or so we thought, yet his going away made us realise we were a small bunch, all scattered living our own lives. The collective grief brought us together, to cremate him, to say one final good-bye.

But was his cremation the final goodbye to him? No, I don’t think so. Everything I did henceforth, without him in my life, was a first…another final good-bye!

I wish for the good memories I had with my father to replace the painful and soul shaking experience I had when the news that he had left was broken to me.

I wish for the good memories I had with my father to replace the painful and soul shaking experience I had when the news that he had left was broken to me. For me it indeed felt like the earth shook and the sky fell apart. Maybe it is normal for every human being to face this at the time of the death of his or her parents or maybe I felt it more since I always took my father being there for granted. I think we all did, how could he go? Not him ever.

But he went away, leaving a void which could never be filled.

I realised when someone you love dies you don’t have to say good-bye just at that very moment, but at every crossroads henceforth. I went through endless firsts and tough moments, and not just obvious ones like whenever I visited my mother, festivals, holidays and weddings, but many others that are equally if not more challenging to face and handle under the heavy blanket of grief.

Living in flashbacks

One of the toughest moments for me was walking into my parents’ home the first time after he wasn’t there.  It was the same house from where his body had been taken to the cremation ground. During my visits, my mind went into flashback mode.  Sometimes I remembered the happy times I shared with him, like when his pride shone when I received 1stprize for a painting competition from the Chief Minister or when I joined a newspaper as an editor in Bhopal. He was there approving when I first met my spouse in that very house. There were endless such memories… when one of my siblings did well in academics or joined a profession of their choice or he got a promotion. We celebrated in our own way.

But, more often it was the emptiness that got to me to let me know that I am still heavily grieving. He was not there in the evenings or during dinner, which had always been our family time.

Moments that still sting

Whenever someone mentions my father it stings. One corner of my heart is reserved for him and that gets disturbed when someone mentions him. I remember when my youngest sibling, last year on my father’s death anniversary said, “Didi it has been two decades since he left us!” That hit hard, how could we be still carrying on, without him? Yet, we have, we had to. The fact that he had not seen any of his grandchildren stings me the most. I felt gutted when we sold his beloved car, his green ‘Fiat’. But what shook me the most was seeing my mother without him, she was lost, and we didn’t know how to handle that.

My father had groomed us, he let us be ourselves to discover and fly. Would he be proud of what we’ve done with our lives? Of course that we’d never know now, and that gives me a sense of being abandoned.

The empty chair syndrome

My father had groomed us, he let us be ourselves to discover and fly. Would he be proud of what we’ve done with our lives? Of course we’d never now know, and that gives me a sense of being abandoned. At times I feel like asking him a question, the answer to which only he would have, and he isn’t here. That chair, literally and otherwise, at the dining table, drawing room, car or picture frame, is always there, but always empty, ouch, that still hurts.

Standing up for him

The day he left us, I grew up, my siblings did too, we all in a way stood up for him, where he should have been, we were now trying to fill his space. The way we tried to surround our mother with a protective shield, when we sorted his papers, closed his accounts, helped each other during admissions, hospitalisations and being there for each other during happy and difficult times…as he would have.

Our special moment

My father and I shared a special love, our love for soccer, I being the eldest of his children, was his soccer buddy, we would wake each other up at unearthly hours during Football World Cup to watch matches together. I have abandoned watching soccer matches since, how could I, my buddy is no longer there. I remember him encouraging my reading habit and my love for colour and painting.

His memories fill my heart with an ache, but at the same time somehow they also bring a smile to my face as I remember how unique a person my father was. Living under his protective gaze were the best days of my life something I will carry with me forever.

Life goes on…

My father was a simple man, loved simple things, he loved his family the most. His memories fill my heart with an ache, but at the same time somehow they also bring a smile to my face as I remember how unique a person my father was. Living under his protective gaze were the best days of my life something I will carry with me forever.

Happy Father’s Day Baba!

Smita Singh is an editor with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are her own.

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