I am sitting on the bed that dad spent his last days. Not the hospital bed we brought for him at home, but the regular double bed in 'his' room at our place in Porvorim.
As I gaze upon the photo on the left, it is so difficult to believe that he is six feet below. Where are the happy times we shared? Where are the sounds of laughter which made us joyous in the company of each other? And where is the quiet presence which filled the home.
Those moments are just a memory now. Though it is a little over three months when you slipped away in this room, we remember you everyday. I cannot forget the gentle smile on your face when you left this room for your eternal journey. You did not want to disturb our sleep. Before daybreak, minutes past 4 a.m. you took your leave. Before that happened, in the final days, you took Queenie's hand and mine and forced out the words 'Thank you.' The death rattle would not allow you to speak coherently.
Yet we still could not believe this was the end. All life comes to an end one day. It simply could not be true.
So when we gathered as a family around your grave on All Souls Day we remembered the precious hours with you. You gave so much of yourself, seeking little in return. You bore all your pain without a word. In fact you used to joke about it.
Gathered together in prayer with the moon overhead there seemed to be a destiny we were deemed to fulfill. As every family grieved their loss, we felt comforted in our grief. In losing you we returned you to the Lord.
Every priest on the altar in the open air Mass in the St. Andrew's cemetery, Vasco had a deep connection with our family. Fr. Januario from Delhi had said the Mass when mum died in 2004. It seems like yesterday. Fr. Gabriel, the parish priest was always in touch with dad with his encouraging word. Fr. Camillo gave dad the anointing of the sick at SMRC hospital, Chicalim, and Fr. Jovito said his funeral Mass. The entire community was praying for dad with the priests leading from the front. A profound peace came over me. It is not what you do at the last minute, when a person is dead that matters. What matters is what you do when the person is alive.
After the Mass I invited the family for snacks and tea at Goodyland, Vasco, the place we often visited with dad. We ordered what he liked to eat and joined two tables to talk about life.
As we drove back to Porvorim we remembered the times when we would often bring him from Vasco to enjoy the amenities of our new flat. I am glad we did that when we could. We knew the clock was ticking.
All Souls Day helped me to come to terms with dad's passing. I was brave enough to don a blue shirt the next day with lines of red over it. For me the lines of red symbolized the network of blood in dad's body which finally finished him. The shirt was a cryptic reminder of what dad once said when he was complimented on his good health. He said, 'You don't know what is happening inside.'
As I migrated from black to grey to blue with a combination of colour, I felt I needed to get past grieving and live a fuller life. The sunlight and the green in the background beckoned.
Pix taken by the author. Above at St. Andrew's church cemetery, Vasco on 2nd November 2017; below at college, Nuvem on 3rd November 2017.