Soon after my mother died, surrounded by neighbours, I started crying and grieving for all that was gone. Watching me, my father started crying as well. A well-intentioned neighbour stepped in and told me to stop shedding tears as it would make my father feel worse. That stopped the flow of tears, and it took a year for that flood to come out.
I don’t know if that was the right thing to do, to stop someone from expressing the enormity of their sorrow. I think not. After all, if you have just lost a part of your soul forever, you can be allowed to grieve in peace and not have to follow sermons to ‘be strong’.
One person who stood by my side through the ordeal was my boyfriend. With him I could grieve, shout, be in denial or express as much as I wanted. And that was the most liberating thing ever.
When mom fell ill and I became her caregiver, the job took a heavy toll. But my boyfriend was around at every step, sleeping in the hospital corridors with me, wiping away the tears, giving me the strength to face each day.
It’s not easy being a caregiver’s caregiver. It’s a thankless task but he did an excellent job of it. And I remain forever grateful for his presence. It was the greatest token of love he could have ever given me.