She Is Gone (He Is Gone)- A poem
You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
We always say that behind each and every ritual and tradition, there is a solid background or purpose. Much of the rituals that we observe on our festivals or other occasions such as birth and death, have deep ideology behind them. However, over the years rituals have taken a precedence over the ideology or deeper significance. People of Ayodhya lighted lamps to welcome their beloved King Ram who returned after an exile of 14 years and undergoing lots of trauma. Lighting of lamps is symbolic, but bursting fire crackers and polluting the environment is an example of ritual taking precedence over the purpose.
Similarly in Christian traditions, there’s a ritual of Month’s mind, which is a requiem mass in which friends and relatives of a dead person congregate one month after the death of the person. Actually for relatives and friends of the deceased, the bereavement of a beloved is a life long trauma, though nature has miraculous healing power that heals each and every wound over a period of time. However, a month is too short a period to get completely off the grief and therefore, this congregation or mass has a great significance of applying healing touch on the wounds of the immediate family. In our tradition, we have a ritual of 13 or 17 days, though in this modern life and especially in this time of pandemic, all rituals have been curtailed and simplified.
The reason for me suddenly remembering this important Christian tradition is this morning conversation with my wife. As she woke up looking groggy and restless, I asked her the reason. She confessed to not having slept the whole night as one month ago, this was the last night of her brother, who had breathed his last in the wee hours of 23rd August. That makes him dead for exactly one month today and hence this sudden trigger in my mind for Month’s mind. As all rituals and traditions are similar and their objectives are exactly the same, I quote a prayer from a requiem mass of a friend’s wife, who died young a few years ago. It reads as under
We have gathered here today to celebrate the Months mind / Death Anniversary of our dear Jasmit (I have replaced that lady’s name with my BIL’s name). Let us thank God, for all the joys that he/she brought into our lives and also pray for the grace that we may be strong and carry on living our lives as Jasmit would want us to.
We will now give praise and thanks to the Lord and Saviour for by dying, he destroyed our death; and by rising, he restored our life. With our dear Jasmit let us praise God saying:
Your steadfast love O Lord never ceases.
Father, we give you thanks because of your love for Jasmit. You have called him/her to live with you in your heavenly home in the fullness of your love, peace and joy. Though we grieve his/her going, we accept your will no matter how hard to bear. We thank you for the love he/she lavished on all of us during his/her life and for all the good that he/she accomplished in this world.
And then everyone sings this prayer:
Father, help us to see death for what it really is:
The end of pain and the beginning of joy
The end of frustration and the beginning of fulfilment
The end of weakness and the beginning of strength
The end of fear and the beginning of tranquility
The end of poverty and the beginning of riches.
We make this prayer through Christ our Lord
Isn’t the above prayer echoing the feelings that my wife, his sister, his other sisters, his wife, children and above all his mother that they all would be undergoing today? And on a philosophical note, aren’t all the religions showing the same path of mercy, compassion and pragmatism?
This month will become an year and year will become years and everyone will get immersed in day to day chores , but on special days , his memories will continue to come back to haunt his immediate family.