Written by a 3rd year student nurse.
My grandfather was one of my biggest inspirations. He migrated to the UK from India in the hope of building a better life for his family. He worked hard and remained humble, he had a calming demeanour about him, he looked wise with his white silky beard always a smile on his face. He lived with us since I was a toddler, he picked me up from school, he bought me sweets from the corner shop, he told me stories, taught me about religion and faith. Teachings of equality, courage, humility, kindness and service to all. Encouraging me to become a nurse, in effort to serve humanity.
I always felt he spoilt me, his only granddaughter alongside many grandsons.
He lived till 94, a good life, he got to meet his great grand children and in the end he didn’t suffer. He was admitted to hospital with a recurrent chest infection, spent the weekend there and was due to come home on the Monday. We were all excited he was feeling better and due to come home.
Monday morning came, 5am my mum asked me to come downstairs with no offer of an explanation. I Walked into the living room, silence all around, my parents sat there, my aunt, my brother, cousins and there wives filled with sadness.
I laughed, what are you all doing here at this time, deep down I knew why at least I think I did. My cousin spoke, baba (grandfather) he’s gone, ‘gone?’ He’s passed away.
It felt like the ground, my foundation, who I was had been ripped from under me, with unexplainable pain in my stomach, my body weak and heart heavy, words I could not comprehend, filled with confusion ‘he was coming home today’
As my brother hugged me tight, consuming me with strength and love while tears fall from my eyes, still with no explanation.
The morning came, the living room had changed White sheets cover the floor, people sitting all over, being served spiced hot tea the aroma filling the room with warm refreshments, people expressed their sadness at our loose. The community gathered to morn, show their respects to offer their condolences. They were welcomed gathering in our home were we lived, we grew up. They offered their words to help, they made comments, how my grandfather loved me, how proud he was of us all. We knew this, he made it a point to remind us but how much did it mean when they said it.
I remember the despair on my cousins face when he had to explain to his 5 year old son our grandfather had gone to heaven, our eyes filled with tears when he asked ‘when we could go see him in heaven’
We were blessed to have a big family, we gathered everyday until the funeral we remembered our grandfather, he valued family above all else. We reminisced All our memories together over dinner every night for 1.5 weeks we remembered, we laughed, we cried, we shared and we loved. We offered each other strength and comfort, somehow, somewhere it came.
The funeral day came, in Sikhism we believe in reincarnation, an individual follows the circle of 8.4 billion life forms until it reaches complete freedom. The body is just a vessel but to us although he had passed he still looked like our grandfather, can it ever be easy to just let go.
We are taught to be kind and compassionate, have courage and I believe no one should die alone. Holding someone’s hand while they lay there dying, they lived a life, a life full of happiness and sadness and over time they aged and at this moment regardless of the life lived they deserve to die in peace and with compassion. But what about our loved ones, do they wait for us, there relatives to leave them before they take there last breaths. I left my grandfather in the hope that I would see him tomorrow I didn’t get to say goodbye. But I’m not truly sure we ever really say goodbye. He has and will stay with me in all that I do, in spirituality, the memories and his teachings.
Always and forever.