I must tell you this story, about my wonderful brother-in-law, my husband’s sister’s husband. When I got married and came into their family, I was eighteen years old, and he was forty-two, a banker, in love with his wife and had a great sense of humour. He had one son and a daughter.
Our patriarchal house reverberated with laughter because of him. Gradually we became one big, close-knit family. No one could ask for better in-laws, and the same love and support I have even now.
One day, twelve years back his kidneys failed suddenly, and he was needed dialysis. But nothing changed for him. He would go cheerfully to the hospital, and after the dialysis he would go about life usually. His grit and determination were high, and he had completed one thousand eight hundred dialysis which is unheard of. His love for life kept him going with the same sense of humour. He would tell everyone” I’m happy to do dialysis today, atleast I can have a full meal today.”
Everyone, from the lift boy to the nurses and the doctors were fond of him, and he became a part of their life too. His wife would counsel the patient’s relatives who came in for dialysis. Some were very young and and came from far off places to get the best treatment for their husband or wife or son or daughter. And everyone is aware dialysis once started is forever.
I had been to the hospital and was shocked to see so many young women and men patiently waiting outside, exchanging conversation, sharing cakes or snacks while waiting for their partner who was inside the room undergoing dialysis. Their life revolved around the hospital almost every alternate day. Yet they looked happy, as they had accepted their life with all the pitfalls. How blessed we are and we don’t realise unless we visit such hospitals atleast once in a while.
Last Year we got a call from my sister-in-law, and it was heart breaking when we heard the doctors have given up, because his body has not been able to take the dialysis anymore. But the saddest part was -he did not want to let go. In spite of the pain and discomfort he wanted to live. He was drifting away but still in love with life. He wanted to survive, he was bleeding, but that did not deter him, and he asked for the dialysis. But the doctors knew it was futile.
He tried swimming against the tide, hoping to reach the shore. Probably, at that time he didn’t realize the coast was out of his reach. Such a lovely soul, we miss him, and in our hearts, we are also not able to let him go.
I left for Kerala to see him one last time before he closed his eyes. I wanted to be there to talk to him, to make him smile. And he recognized me. I had written a poem at that time about my father, “An ode to my father.”. My niece who was his daughter read out that poem to him. He smiled and even remembered my father.
He met everyone he wanted to meet, and had everything he wanted to have and passed away peacefully after fulfilling all his desires. He knew he had to let go. He was in the palliative care. His grandson strummed the guitar, playing his favourite song for him when he closed his eyes. What a beautiful way to die, I thought. Grit, determination and a positive attitude had made him do the impossible.