What You Left Behind

The pieces that make me

Will forever have parts of you

And for that I am grateful.


My grandfather passed away in August last year. It shocked us all, was unexpected, and in many ways it was the perfect death. He died peacefully, at home, the way we had always prayed he would go. No one was really ready for him to be gone though. Truth be told, I don’t think we can ever be ready to lose the people we love.

I was reading a book when my dad called to tell me the news. I was reading a book when my Papa took his last breath on this earth. It’s weird to think about. One second life is normal, and the next it is irrevocably changed. This is the first big loss I’ve felt, and for us as a family as well, it was a hard loss.

Personally, it was the pinnacle point last year after which I knew I had to grow up. I was at home in Oman with my parents when it happened. My sister was already back in Canada and I was to fly back to Toronto the next day. After it happened I still had to fly back right away, I had some commitments I couldn’t ignore. Those first couple of weeks, were so hard, cause it was a weird bubble of being away from family, and yet knowing our family was changed forever. It was a really hard semester for me, but in many ways it was also my best semester. I suddenly had to be stronger than I was before. The thing was, I wanted to be strong. One of the greatest things I learned last year was how to be strong, while being human. I was sad, there were so many tears, there still are, but I, we, have to keep living. That was what he would have wanted, there’s no doubt about that.

This past Christmas my sister, my parents and I flew back to India to spend time with my grandmother and my dads’ sister and her family. We told stories, we laughed, we felt Papa’s absence. As we would sit around and talk I realized my grandfather had left a lot behind. He left us with memories and lessons that we will cherish. He left us each other. He left us my Grandmother. He isn’t physically with us anymore, and there are spaces that feel empty, but there is still so much filled up and left behind for us. Isn’t that everything?

My grandfather was an amazing man. He lived life in a way that was inspiring. He never needed a lot of material things, but he gave us everything. He taught us how to have fun, be happy, to have faith in God. He taught us how a simple life can be a great one. He taught us to be humble and kind. He lived a full life, he taught us to do the same. Yes, he’s gone now, but he left us so much, and for that we’ll always be grateful.

People always say that the pain of loss never goes away but it gets easier. I think that’s true. We will always feel his absence but we also always know that we were lucky to have him.

My dad lost a father, my aunt lost a father, my mum lost a father figure whom she had known longer than her own dad, my grandmother lost a husband whom she’d been married to for over 50 years, my sister, my cousin, and I lost a grandfather. Despite everything we lost though, we have each other. He left this family he had created behind. He left us everything important we needed to keep going.

Thank you Papa.