Passing of the Sun

by sukhvirk150

I don’t really believe much in making excuses. There’s no excuse for my absence from blogging, but I feel an explanation is in order (it could just be me disguising an excuse, but I’ll take the risk).

A day into spring break, on March 10th, I received a text. My sister informed me that my mom’s brother (mamaji) had a heart attack while on vacation in LA. I failed to appreciate the severity of the situation until later that night when I found out he was in cardiac arrest, and it wasn’t looking good.

It hit me Sunday. Sitting in a crowded cafe, I thought of my family. I thought of my cousins. Our family had been affected by some infighting, and as a result I failed to reach out to or spend time with my mamaji the past few years, even though we lived 20 minutes away from each other. I thought of what I was grateful for, when suddenly I wanted to see my family more than anything else. I decided to go to LA.

I arrived Monday night. I saw my cousins, a few family friends, and my own parents. My mamaji from California and masiji (mom’s sister) were there as well, both with their spouses. We saw my mamaji, who was unconscious, and then left the hospital to get some sleep.

The next day, the situation worsened. He was coded multiple times, meaning his vital signs dropped. CPR teams resuscitated him. Over the hours, his heart weakened. Soon it beat at only 10%, the rest shouldered by machines.

My cousins, both young men, and my mamiji (my mamaji’s wife) walked through the long hall from the visiting room to my mamaji’s room. As the morning churned on, the trips became harder and harder. At one point, Gagan, the younger one broke down on his walk back. A sadness fell upon us all there like a blanket. We felt what was to come. None of us wanted to admit it.

I stood next to my mamaji from California. He’s originally from India. He learned to text while here. I watched as he tried to text his kids about the situation. Both my mamaji’s have infectious smiles. In fact, all four of the siblings brighten up any room they enter. You can count on my mom, masiji, and both mamajis to be the life of any party they’re at. It made it that much harder to see my mamaji then, trying to text, as his emotions crept up. First, he sniffled a little bit. I saw a tear roll down his cheek. The sniffles came more and more often, as tears began to flow down his cheeks. He held it in, but his eyes and sobs betrayed his otherwise stoic appearance. It hits the most when you see the happiest people you know struck by sadness and grief.

The family decided to take my mamaji off of life support. The cries echoed through the hall as they staggered back to the visiting room. We cried and cried. We held onto each other and cried, mourning the loss of the sun in our lives.

From left to right: mamiji (Cali), mamaji (Cali), Cousin in pink (masiji's daughter), masiji in blue, mamaji (who passed), mamiji

One thing I take away from his passing is that we all must remember that our time is short. Death is the one destination we all share. So let’s love each other while we’re on this journey.