Archive for April, 2010


When Kiran died I knew that it was the worst thing that could happen to us. I knew that there was nothing that would ever compare. I naively thought that nothing could rattle me after his death. Of course bad things have happened since and probably will happen in the future. I was wrong that they wouldn’t impact me. I think in some ways my sensitivity might be higher. Sekhar didn’t just get hit by a car, Sekhar got hit by a car and Kiran is dead. I don’t just have a cold, I have a cold and my son is dead (no, not always but sometimes).

So you can imagine the reaction when I try to e-file our tax return only to find it is rejected because someone else has already filed using our dependent’s social security number. Seriously? Some piece of crap out there has used Kiran’s social security number on their tax return? Have they opened credit cards? earned wages?

So, for all of you financial services people out there…yes, I have read the tax laws and yes, I contacted the IRS (it could even be as simple as a typo, keep your fingers crossed). I have an action plan, but that isn’t the point of this post.

Had this happened before he died, it would seem bad. But now I am totally shocked at the audacity of some people. I am really angry that I have to take all these steps to clean it up, and I don’t even know how bad it could be at this point…and Kiran is still dead!


What is the genuine in you?

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.” – Howard Thurman

There is nothing like facing the death of your child to make you ask yourself, what in the hell am I doing here? I have an immense feeling of guilt. A parent is not supposed to live longer than their child, and if you do then you must have done something wrong. Thus, I feel like I am supposed to do something good with my life. I am Kiran’s legacy. It’s part mission and part penance, my own hairshirt (yes, I was raised a Catholic or maybe I am just a serious BNL fan…take your pick).

What if I don’t do something special? Is that ok? Will people still remember Kiran?

What I know is that the genuine in me was to be Kiran’s mom. So what now?

Spring is in the air

When Kiran died last January, we were in the middle of one of the coldest mid-winter spells.  The ground was frozen hard and covered in snow.  The trees were bare and brown.  It seemed fitting.  I didn’t ever want it to warm up again.  Eventually, of course, the days grew longer, the sun warmer and, without even a passing nod to our grief, spring arrived.  It was really hard.  When the weather warms up, all of Boston seems to come out of doors, the playgrounds fill up and you hear little children everywhere.  In the beginning there were times we had to shut ourselves in just to hold on to our sanity.  Over time I’ve slowly learned how to enjoy their company again, and to wear the mask when grief breaks through.

This past weekend once again heralded the arrival of spring.  I can’t believe its been over a year, but time moves inexorably on.  My grief is not as raw as last year, but the onset of spring is still hard.  I have the urge to go outside, but it feels empty and meaningless without Kiran.  I want to be enjoying the outdoors with him.  I imagine all the things we would be doing together.  Would he still like to watch the trains, or spend the morning swinging and clambering through the big boy playground?

Over the last year we’ve found some comfort talking to other parents who’ve lost children, reading their books and blogs.  I thought When The Bough Breaks:  Forever After The Death Of A Son Or Daughter by Judith Bernstein was excellent.  It was a sensitive book by a bereaved parent who also happens to be a professional psychologist.  Joan Didion’s book The year of magical thinking also made a deep impact on me.  The book describes the year following the death of her husband during which her daughter was quite ill.  Her daughter died the year following the events outlined in the book.  I recently finished reading Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther.  John writes about his son Johnny’s last year as he struggled with the brain tumor that would take his life.  Though the book is set in the 1940’s the underlying emotions are all too familiar.  The last chapter, written by Johnny’s mother Frances, could have been written by us today.  Here are some excerpts.

Frances Gunther in Death Be Not Proud

“My grief I find, is not desolation or rebellion at universal law or deity.  I find grief to be much simpler and sadder.  Contemplating the Eternal Deity and His Universal Laws leaves me grave but dry-eyed.  But a sunny fast wind along the Sound, good sailing weather, a new light boat, will shake me to tears:  how Johnny would have loved this boat, this wind, this sunny day!”

“Missing him now, I am haunted by my own shortcomings, how often I failed him.  I think every parent must have a sense of failure, even of sin, merely in remaining alive after the death of a child.  One feels that it is not right to live when one’s child has died, that one should somehow have found the way to give one’s life to save his life.  Failing there, one’s failures during his too brief life seem all the harder to bear and forgive.”

“All the wonderful things in life are so simple that one is not aware of their wonder until they are beyond touch.  Never have I felt the wonder and beauty and joy of life so keenly as now in my grief that Johnny is not here to enjoy them.  Today, when I see parents impatient or tired or bored with their children, I wish I could say to them, But they are alive, think of the wonder of that!  They may be a care and a burden, but think, they are alive!  You can touch them – what a miracle!  You don’t have to hold back sudden tears when you see just a headline about the Yale-Harvard game because you know your boy will never see the Yale-Harvard game, never see the house in Paris he was born in, never bring home his girl, and you will not hand down your jewels to his bride and will have no grandchildren to play with and spoil.  Your sons and daughters are alive.  Think of that – not dead but alive!  Exult and sing.”