“A mother is someone who we’ve known longer than we’ve known ourselves.” I lost my mother when I was 20 but got another in the form of my mother-in-law when I married my wife. I could talk to her freely for hours about anything and never get bored of it. She used to tell me stories about how my wife was as a child and how she had grown to be the woman she now is. In the 4th year of our marriage, she had started dropping us hints that she wanted a grandchild and that we should start a family soon. She wanted us to have a baby more than anything in the world.
And then Shaarav happened. Our bonding had grown so strong that I used to call her up to ask her every bit about what she could eat and what not and what if she wanted to binge on junk food at this stage of her and she was more than glad to tell. She was very proud of me and she sort of “kept flaunting me” among friends and relatives.
But unfortunately, when we were into the 16th week of our pregnancy, she too left us for the heavenly abode due to a heart condition. She had a major heart surgery and she succumbed to it. My wife was devastated to hear the news and cried and cried and cried inconsolably. She was her rock. She never even got to say goodbye as she wasn’t allowed to travel at the time. I was devastated too, but I had to stay strong for her. I had to stay strong for our unborn baby.
She had so wanted to share the news of the pregnancy with her friends once she completed 4 months, but now she couldn’t without talking about her mother and controlling her sobs. She wanted to grieve, but she was too frightened it would harm the baby. She felt guilty for even having a life grow inside her when her mother’s was taken, and this guilt was consuming her. Some days were like she couldn’t breathe, she cried so much. She still hoped it to be a dream – a bad dream.
We are well aware of the fact that a woman needs her own mother the most, when she becomes a mother herself. But that was not going to happen for us. She was now a “motherless daughter” who was soon to become a “motherless mother”. The entire pregnancy she missed her dreadfully, she misses her still and she just wants her back, she just wants her here with her, for her. She wanted to share with her mother all that was happening to her, wanted to ask her about the things she was experiencing and the emotional stuff she was going through and the names she had picked for the baby. But the reality was harsh. She was no more with us and her absence is massive.
Time is a great healer they say. And not a day goes by reminding of her, but now she has made peace with the situation and takes comfort from the fact that though her mother isn’t here with her now, she has taught her everything about being a good mother just by her example. I try to convince her that at least she knew about him, knew he existed, but it’s never going to be the same. Yet, we like to think that she is looking down on him, on us, and we try to look after ourselves as best we can, bringing this brand new life into the world. We believe she is our son’s guardian angel.
After Shaarav was born there have been some very sad days where she would just wish that she could talk to her and get some advice or even just a hug. And whenever I think of her I couldn’t help myself thinking how, despite my wife’s every word of caution, I still couldn’t resist myself spilling the beans and she was the first person whom I told about. And I very vividly remember how excited she was about the baby.
And now one year later, my wife finds ways to pay tribute to her. She tells Shaarav how much his Naani loved him even though he wasn’t born and she shows him pictures of her. She uses this as an opportunity to bring her to life again through her stories, morals and all the wonderful things she grew up learning and to pass on to him her heritage. Best of all, she tells her about the ways in which she can see her characteristics and qualities reflected in him. The sadness never goes away, but this way it seems to get easier to cope with. But deep within, she has this gutted feeling that Shaarav would never really know his Naani and would have to settle for her memories.
In the whole turn up of events I have had to stay strong for her, for the baby, and more than anything for us, knowing that I am the next shoulder she would lean on. I had to become her next rock and I will always be.