open letter daughter-in-law death indian family father-in-law alzheimer's disease Love

Dear Pitaji, Thank You For Not Letting Your Disease Take Your Love Away From Me

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

To my Pitaji,

When I first met your son, I fell in love with him. I used to praise qualities in him. We met and he told me about you- that you are suffering from Alzheimer's.

After my marriage, when I got more time with you, I found that his good attributes were inherited from you. I could tell that, even though your Alzheimer's was progressing.

How difficult was it for you Pitaji, and for us to see you in a state where we didn’t respond to any conversation. Sometimes, I wonder what led you to have this disease. You are just an amazing soul, a man who was so kind, always ready to help others, hold our family together. I have the best memories with you.

The second day, when I offered you food and you ate it right out of my hands showed that you knew who I was- you knew I was your daughter-in-law, your favourite.

We used to have fun especially when mummyji went to naniji’s place. Your smile and hug after a hectic day made my whole day. Who says that you weren’t in your senses? I think you have understood our every emotion more deeply than any other person in the house. Whenever mummyji used to taunt me for not doing something right, you used to hold my hand and give me that angelic smile of yours. You didn't need words to tell me, "Let go of it, beta."

Mummyji and my husband struggled to see you with your memory impairments. But they have countless memories with you. A lifetime of it, in fact. And even though we only got to spend two years together, you've given me so much to tide me through the rest of my life. What we had together was not just silence and smiles, but the relationship that happens only once in an era. Still, there was some lingering helplessness when we struggled to communicate with each other. Some days, it felt like you were vanishing, and we couldn't do anything to help you.

It was difficult to watch you swallow bitter pills. And as the disease advanced, it was unbearable to see you bed-ridden. I was constantly worried about the bedsores and I kept hoping that you were comfortable. As the year went by, the inevitability of losing you was upon us. You could no longer control your bowels, you couldn't swallow and your breathing became laborious. In the very last stage, you were vulnerable to several infections. 

And then, it seemed like we came to the point where every death story comes to- pneumonia. The pulmonologist put you on ventilator support and you got into the ICU. But I knew you hated the ICU. When you became a little stable, we brought you back home. We were there for you na, Pitaji? The doctor had said that you were in a critical stage and we didn't know what to tell mummyji. But you fought for us, like you always did. You became better. The doctor was so happy with your progress, and we were thrilled! 

But we didn't know that it would be so short-lived.

15 days later, your oxygen tank was full, but your lungs weren't functioning. Your beautiful heart had stopped beating. It looked like you were in deep sleep. Pinching, tapping your back, hugging or calling out your name wasn't helping. But your face was shining. I can't believe that the disease finally won.

We lost you. It's devastating. You're the man who raised my husband and made me feel like I was family, even the early days. It's as if you raised me into this life I'm living now. I can't believe I won't see you again.

This house is so empty without you. We are so incomplete without you. I know that time heals, but there will be no substitute for your love.

You loved me, Pitaji, even when your health failed you. But it was beyond what a father-in-law would bestow on his daughter-in-law. Rest in peace, and I will always pray that Lord Shiva bless your soul. 

We miss you, and I hope you're watching us from up there.


Your Niharika.

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