I have written many scientific papers in complex topics and even wrote about personal moments in my life, but this blog is by far the most difficult to articulate. Talking about the death of both my parents. It is not only the pain and loneliness that makes it difficult, but more how do I express gratitude to my parents and most of all to Mohanji. What words do I write that helps you the reader, understand the simultaneous heaviness and lightness sitting in my heart. How do I express how Mohanji stood near me and gave me strength during this time? How do I share all that I learned during this time? I guess the only place to start is from the beginning, which actually was months before this all happened.
Tradition prepares you
It was many months before this all happened, that I began to see a change in both my parents. Each time I spoke to them and particularly each time I saw them, I began to notice how prana was leaving them. It became evident that my parents would not be here much longer. I spoke to a few friends, especially friends that were close to my parents. I remember telling Ajay to prepare himself and even mentioned it to Nameshri and Prathiba. Although the words were coming out of my mouth, I think my mind was not processing it. Death is something we all hide from. So even though the tradition was preparing me, I was not fully accepting. I mean, who wants to accept that both parents are going to leave you. One day I told ajay that once my mum goes, my dad will follow soon. They will want to be together.
From last year I began to see many inauspicious signs. I would have nightmares about my parents, hear certain birds in the dead of night, dream that my parent’s dogs are petrified of being abandoned, and eventually for me one of the most certain signs I experience in my own life….A picture of Mohanji fell and broke, as well as a deity suddenly falling from a shelf and braking. The deity was on the shelf for 7 years and was securely mounted. But suddenly the shelf gave way, and the deity came tumbling down and shattered to pieces. This has happened a few times in my life, each time before the death of a loved one. I’m not saying that we all should believe the many superstitions and omens out there, but I am trying to show how the tradition was slowly preparing me for what was to come.
The tradition also was preparing my parents. My mum in particular was very vocal about it. She said too many people that she will not be here for very long. During prayers last year and even parties she clearly said to family that this is the last time she will be there for these functions. She even told me on a call, that at next pitrupaksh (prayer for the emancipation of departed ancestors) I will be doing this for her. My dad started talking to me about how he lived his life fully, and he will die happily without any regrets. Ofcourse, I replied to all this by saying they talking nonsense, but truth was ringing in both their words. That was a bitter pill to swallow.
The night before my mum fell ill a heaviness came over me. It was a feeling of utter loneliness, and I told Ajay that the time is here: Mum is going soon. That morning my dad calls at 5am to say my mum has had a massive heart attack and is in hospital. Immediately all the flashing messages from the tradition came to mind, and I was convinced my mum had already passed away and my family did not want to tell me because I had to drive down. While packing, I took white clothes which I would wear for the last rights, and took Tulsi and a piece of gold which is also used at a hindu funeral. We raced to Newcastle and with the blessings of Mohanji, no one stopped us on the way inspite of the Covid-19 lockdown. When I reached the hospital and saw my mum I was relieved she was alive, but seeing her face broke my heart. I could see that majority of her prana left already and she was exiting the body.
Meeting mum in Newcastle
When mum saw me, at first she had a big smile and her eyes brightened. But then I could see that she was holding back her tears. I think she knew what was going to happen.
The first thing my mum did was scold me lol. Yes I got scolding. She asked: “what are you doing here? Why did you come? You are doing homas every day at ashram for everyone online, and you should not abandon that dharma. You should not have left doing the homas”. How do I reply to that? How do I say that I have been feeling for a while that she is going to die? All I could say was I will get back to it when she is better.
She then smiled and turned to a nurse and said, “This is my son. He is a Swami” and as an afterthought she added, “He is also a doctor”. It was then I realized that she first introduced me as a Swami, and not how she normally does by saying Im a doctor first. It dawned to me, that my mum fully accepted the decision that I took to dedicate my life to serving others. Being an only child born after many miscarriages, my decision of wanting to serve in this way was very difficult for my parents to accept. But at that moment it was almost as if she was saying to me that she was proud of me and was giving me her blessings.
I held my mums hand and lied to her that everything is going to be ok. In my heart I knew this was the last few moments I had with her. But my mind was blank. I did not know what to say or what else to do. I was just trying not to cry in front of her. My dad then said they moving her to Pietermaritzburg. As they were wheeling her out, I mustered the courage to say, “I love you”.
Mohanjis grace flowed in that moment. Inspite of Covid, the ambulance driver allowed me to ride with her in the ambulance. I had to sit in the front seat, but I still got to spend a little more time with her. All the way to the Pietermaritzburg mediclinic I held onto holy stones from Mansorovar, a Shaligram, a Narmada linga and Mohanjis eyecard. I kept praying that whatever has to happen I accept, but Mohanji and the tradition must take care of my mum.
Its only now that when I look back, do I see how grace has been there sheltering and preparing me. They put the right people at the right places to help me.
Mum was assessed by a cardiologist called Dr Maharaj. He said that she needed a stent to be put in and it’s a common procedure and she will be out soon. As they were taking her to the Cat-Lab, I chanted Mohanjis gayatri mantra. That was all that was in my mind. That was all that could come out of my lips. I hugged her and I kissed her forehead and she gave me a brave smile.
A smile that I now realize also expressed a good bye.
My dad and I sat outside the Cat-lab chanting and praying. Suddenly, I hear the heart monitor alarm go off and my heart went into my mouth. Cardiac technicians and nurses from the cardiac ICU rushed into the Cat-lab. After a few minutes Dr Maharaj calls me to say that the deterioration to my mum’s heart was worse than what they anticipated. The entire left side of her heart was badly damaged and that he may need to do open heart surgery on mum. At that moment I ran to the car. Ajay was babysitting Kamakshi and could also not come with us because of the hospital rules with covid. Infact, only one person was allowed to be with mum, but they allowed both myself and dad to be there. I told Ajay what happened and we walked into the hospital. Again, grace was such that all three of us was allowed to wait together.
As we sat there, my dad and Ajay in tears, all I could do was chant. Again the heart monitor alarm went off and this time it was not stopping. I see another doctor running into the Cat-lab and after a while Dr Maharaj comes out. He says to me that mums condition is very critical. They found a blood clot in her heart that it was situated in a very difficult place to reach. It was in the main artery, exactly where there is a split. So it is difficult to put a stent in there. Each time they went into her heart, she crashed and her heart stopped. They ventilated her and they need to try and make her stronger for open heart surgery. They inserted a pump in her heart to help it beat.
We got to see her an hour later. So many pipes going into her body and 13 different drips all over her arms and feet from adrenaline to blood pressure medication. She was unconscious but we sat there for a few moments. I could see my dad began to take a strain from crying and I suggested we go home. I needed my dad to rest, but that night no one slept for more than two or three hours. We woke up early that morning and we left for the hospital, beginning the ordeal of traveling and visiting the hospital during lockdown.
The first week
That first week was torture. Sitting at the hospital waiting room for hours and hours a day hoping to see a doctor walk passed for us to get information about mums condition. She was not getting stronger and was rapidly deteriorating. With each day, my dad also got more and more worried. My dad always has a smile on his face no matter what is going on in this life. His response is always brave and always “I’m ok”. But my dad was beginning to break down. He was crying often which I never saw my dad do except once when his mum passed away. We began facilitating Maitri for mum and created a Mahasudarshan yantra and began worshiping it.
At the end of that week during that March month, Dr Maharaj said that things are not looking good at all. The cardio-thoracic surgeon refuses to operate because mum is not strong enough to even sustain opening her chest.
As a last option they going to try and put the stent again. The wheeled her into the Cat-Lab again, and this time I was the one in tears. I could not hold it back anymore and I could not be strong for my dad and Ajay anymore. The tears burst forth, all the while chanting to Lord Dattatreya as advised by Mohanji.
I kept praying to Lord Dattatreya, that I will accept whatever he thinks is best. But my dad is suffering and he will not manage to cremate my mum. He is already in so much pain, what will happen if my mum leaves. If I’m honest, I will also admit that I also cried out to him saying that my mum is my strength. My mum’s presence helps me manage what I go through, especially dealing with people that seem to take great pleasure in hurting me. Her love shields me from focusing on what needs to be done, and not worry about the people.
A warmth came over me. A sudden feeling of peace and most of all silence. I had a communion with Lord Dattatreya. I did not see him, but felt that unmistakable presence of nature. He said to me that my mums time is up, as planned by her. It then struck me that March is a very significant month for my mum. My mum’s parents both died in March and I was born in that month. Lord Dattatreya said that my dad will suffer greatly if he sees my mum die today. He went on to say, that to ease my dad’s pain he can extend my mum’s life for a little while longer but she will be in pain. But this pain will be purifying and will give her moksha. My dad will not suffer seeing mum cremated. At that point in time, when Lord Dattatreya said “a little while longer”, I assumed it would be at least a two or three years. Little did I realize it would be a few months?
But this is how grace works. He knew Dad also did not have much time left. So he did not want the last few months to be in the absolute agony of losing your life partner. Lord Dattatreya blessed us and his energy disappeared. Dr Maharaj came out of the Cat Lab and said that the stent was inserted and that mum’s heart is pumping blood well. My dad and Ajay was so happy. I told them about the experience with Lord Dattatreya and that we need to make the most of the time we have with eachother.
Looking back, I see that Lord Dattatreya kept his promise. My dad did not see my mum die and my mum did not see my dad die. This is truly a blessing of grace. That emotional turmoil of losing a partner is so difficult to bear. My parents were very attached to eachother, and the pain of loosing eachother would have been too much to bear. My loving tradition spared them that pain. What a blessing to have both parents not consciously go through that pain.
My eyes are filling with tears…tears of gratitude….so I think I will stop here. I’ll leave the rest for another blog.