My dear brother,
It’s not true you know – well, probably not entirely true, in any case – that your life flashes before you when you are dying. Your life, at least the parts that have touched others, flash before everyone else too when you are dying. I can’t of course claim to know about the first part, but I can tell you, the latter is true. Why else would I be sitting here at 4:00 a.m.?
I’m stuck really. This is what I do when I feel really strong emotions – I write. But when all your memories of one person come rushing at you at the same time, where do you begin? Should I start with the big warm grin that used to greet us when we came to your house to visit during our summer vacations? The long walks through the fields nearby? Perhaps of the time I discovered your beautiful singing voice when I heard you discussing music with my mother? Then there was the time you stayed with us when you were interning at my father’s office. And how everyone in our little township found out about and enjoyed your beautiful voice too. I was so proud, although I may have been too young to actually realize what I felt was pride.
What about that time you got so annoyed with the loud music playing in the bus (we were on our way to some family function, I think). Here’s another one: a letter I wrote you when I got back home from meeting you after a long gap. I sent you the link, and the next time we met, you told me you’d printed it out and put it under the glass on your table. Then there was the time I came to your place in Bombay and saw a picture of you holding your baby boy.
All this is not even a scratch on the surface of that deep well.
When I first heard of your illness, I thought, “It’s not real. It’s probably nothing.” Of course, I was wrong, and I knew it. Someone else I knew had beat just such an illness (never mind that her illness came back for round 2). I lived in denial. I’d just met you…what…less than a year and a half ago. How can it already be stage 4 cancer with no hope of recovery? No. It wasn’t possible, I told myself. You were too young; your family was too young. Your boy is too young (I see that he sings, by the way. No doubt, as beautifully as you).
Then, when I could no longer live in denial, because your condition worsened dramatically in a matter of months, it was about how I didn’t have the courage. And now, by the time I worked up the courage to finally come and meet you, you let go. I am sorry I didn’t make it in time. I really wanted that conversation with you.
The very last memory I have of you is you telling me with a wide grin that I’d put on weight. At Anu’s wedding. And then you looked at yourself and said, “Of course, so have I. Then I guess we’re both living happy lives.” And we both started laughing.
I’m sorry. Sorry, that I wasn’t brave enough, sorry I never came to hold your hand while you suffered. Sorry, that I didn’t get to tell you that I love you. But I’m not sorry that my last memory is of a healthy you, laughing.
I will miss you.