Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Final Hug

My grand aunt passed away at the grand age of 83 early morning yesterday. She was suffering from cardiac related issues over the last two months. With a 90% block and no chance of a surgery at her age, we were told she is a walking time-bomb. The end came peacefully. She passed away in her sleep around 4.00 am due to cardiac arrest.

While on the road to recovery, her daughter fell terribly ill with a viral attack and was critically hospitalised for a week. I was worried that she would not make it and worse still, was anxious for my grand aunt. They were both stuck to each other like glue having lived in the same house for many years. Both survived and came home a few days ago, much to everyone's relief. 

Yesterday was mom's birthday and we had planned to visit Thiruvannamalai, one of the most holiest shrines in south India. The phone rang at 4.45 am and I had no idea who could be calling at such an ungodly hour. I heard the home care girl, a 19 yr old Priscilla weeping and let me know that my grand had passed away. God willed us to serve them that day instead of visiting Him. Such is His graciousness. 

When the end is destined, nothing can stop it. The nurse told me my Grand aunt who usually spends 5 minutes by the window everyday looking at the temple in the apartment complex, spend more than 30 minutes staring at the shrine with a lost look the day before. She dressed earlier than usual, had all her medications on time without a fuss. Her daughter was so fatigued from her medication, she decided to rest instead of lighting the lamp or drawing the kolam, both which are considered auspicious in every Indian household. To add to this, she allowed my grand aunt to eat whatever food she wanted in her last week inspite of adhering her to a strict diet for two months. My grand aunt also spoke to so many of her relatives late into the evening. She also spent a lot of time laughing and joking with her daughter. Both had survived critical ailments and in that moment of relief and happiness, she got a big warm hug from her daughter. The latter decided to lie down next to her, incase her mom wanted something during the night. At 3.00 am, my grand-aunt's pulse was normal. My cousin heard my aunt moaning, but thought nothing of it, since she was in deep sleep. Around 4.00 am, when she put her arm on my aunt, she screamed out. My aunt's body temperature had become stone cold. Our guess was my aunt was moaning because of the cardiac pain. She looked peaceful, almost relieved. 

By 6.00 am, everyone was informed. By 3.30pm, her final journey had begun amidst chants of the Divine to ensure her a safe journey to the other world. 

None of us could believe it. 

She had a zest for life, loved shopping and had a sharp memory. No guest can ever leave her house on an empty stomach. I have enjoyed fabulous luncheons and dinners many- a- times. Her collection of sarees and sense of fashion, was both amusing and enviable across all ages. Infact, I was planning to gift her one for the navratri season, but changed my mind later, since her attire had changed after her treatment. Her immense mental strength saw her through her critical days in the ICU. When we were prepared for the worst, she sat up and told the doctor she was fit to be discharged! It was her sheer will power that held her together until her daughter was discharged, back home. To everyone, it seemed as though my cousin was being slowly prepared for the eventual. She was taken through the whole process step-by-step. More importantly, inspite of my aunt's heart condition, she was never bed-ridden. Every little blessing counts in such tragic circumstances.

The apartment has now become deathly quiet. 

The life of the dead is now placed in the memory of the living.
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

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