Sunday, December 9, 2012

Daddy's girl

It's 27 years today since my dad died. I was 14. Today I'm 41 and by now I should have got used to his not being around but that hasn't happened yet. I've kind of come to terms with the fact that I will probably never get used to it.

Does it take this date on the calendar for the hole that he left to become more prominent? No, not really. It's a hole I'm always aware of.

In the 80s I don't think there was much awareness about grief counselling. I wish there had been. It would have helped all of us cope with what happened. It's not that it was an unexpected blow - he'd been ill with cancer for a little more than a year. But when you're 13 years old the concept of a terminal illness doesn't really make much sense. One does understand that the ill person is going to die. But death, one has no real idea what it means.

I did understand the meaning of the word death in it's literal sense but I had no clue about the realities death would throw up. The changes it would bring about. I wasn't equipped to understand, let alone deal with it.

When dad was diagnosed with cancer and it was confirmed as terminal there was this gloom that shrouded everything. The adults got busy coping with his treatment and cancer is not easy to deal with. It's a horrible cycle of Chemotherapy and Radiation followed by sheer misery as your body fights both, the disease and the medication.

While the adults around me were dealing with the immediate I wondered what it would be like with dad dead. I was curious. Of course there wasn't anyone I could have asked or talked to, so I wondered on my own. In fact, I found the entire concept quite intriguing and wove many scenarios in my head.

He did die. And my fantasy was suddenly a reality. The guilt that hit me was quite unimaginable and I carried it with me like a hair shirt for many, many years. A few years ago I had that epiphany where I acknowledged that it was not my fault. But somewhere I still feel guilty.

Once he was gone life changed irrevocably. My mother withdrew into her own shell and we never spoke about Dad for many years. I realise today she was about the age I am right now when Dad died. She spent all her energy just functioning, trying to keep home and hearth together, ensuring there was food on the table, a home to live in and an education. I guess that was a lot for her to deal with, just getting past each day.

My brother and I were left to cope as we could.

We needed better support.

And as for Dad, I miss him every day. Now I weave scenarios of what might have been and how nice it would be to be Daddy's Girl.

Marathon Bloggers Day 9


Kurush F Dalal said...

As long as he's alive in your heart you'll always be his lil girl :)

Uma said...

*hugs* Rhea, I don't know what else to say...:-(

Rhea Mitra Dalal said...

The hug is enough Uma :)

AJ said...


Swathika said...

:( I dont know what to say too...but I know the pain of the loss...they say time heals but...I disagree

Harshika said...

I know how it feels. While it seems simply too many of my uncles/aunts have died of cancer in the last 5 years, the biggest loss was that of my uncle-mesho to cancer. He was my everything, I was far closer to him than to my own dad...he died a slow painful death and yet nothing prepared me for his passing on. Till date, I dont like to talk about it and it seems he is still around, hovering over me somehow...your post brought it all back. Just like you, I am resigned to the fact that I miss him everyday of my life. I just do. Which is one of the reasons I hate visiting mumbai (where he was being treated). Just so many everyday things/events/situations remind me of him constantly. It does not get better am afraid.
Hugs to you xox

Pushpz said...

I can feel your pain, life moves on but the scars remain….dont feel the guilt, the things happened the way they were supposed to…but we must have courage to face the life, no? cheer up gurl!

bb said...

I remember those few days - right after diwali/ kalipuja/ bhai phonta. Rajat meshomashai succumbed to the first of many many terminal illnesses that followed our family through the next ten years. We remembered him as the fun loving meshomoshai, then the oshushtho meshomoshai you cannot go to visit anymore because you are too young and you will disturb him and he needs to get as much rest as possible. And then he was gone - confined in a photograph at Selimpur bari. This is probably the first time you have ever talked about him. And that is not easy either. So proud of Rhea - healing and hurting are two sides of the same coin I suppose. Love you

Aparna said...

Rhea, I have tears in my eyes and bravo at your being able to put it all down. Cannot say anything more.

Pinku said... dad died when I was 14...and life has never been ok since that day...

I can completely relate to your post.

Shireen said...

Rhea, I can relate to your grief on some level as I lost my dad when I was 18 - I was no daddy's girl though and regret the fact that just a week before he died i had a huge argument over the phone bill. Life was just happening to me and I had no idea what it was to actually pay the bills. It is after his death that I faced life and his death has made me what I am today. I do miss him so much today especially since I have kids - he would have loved them as I know he loved me - just that we never said I love you. More than that I just wish I had said sorry - for the argument. Hugs to you have precious memories to cherish!

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Finla said...

I came to look at your new chicken post and then said to myself will check if she has some authentic parsee dish i cna try out and then came to see this post.
Hugs to you Drea Rhea. Reading your post reminded what my sis told me once that she felt so guily for our dad dying, i was only 4 so i don't remember that much aobut him just few bits here and there but my sis remember more than me as she was the eldest in three girls. She also said it took her years to get over the guilt. And your mom like my mom trying to take care of her three small girls and in India as you can imagine how hard it was.