12.12.12 and the week it was

12.12.12. The legendary date came and went without ending life on earth according to the prediction. Last year, when we hit 11.11.11, I wrote a blog about eleven random things in my closet. This year, I had no such plans. Between work, family and holidays, I tried to keep my goals realistic. But, such has been the stress of the string of events that happened all last week, I have to share, and get rid of all the negative thoughts, and negativity that surrounded me. In the next two weeks, I hope that life will be mundanely sane, sans any excitement of any sort, keeping me away from blogging till the year ends, and this becomes my last blog for 2012.

Dad. Dad was hospitalized on Tuesday. Before I said “Hello”, the call dropped in the parking structure that I had just entered. I didn’t worry much. My mother, like a parole officer, checks on me if I don’t check-in in twenty-four hour time frame. Swamped in work, I forgot to check-in on Monday night. But I never ignore her call, no matter where I am, and what I am doing, and I called her back as soon as I got into the elevator. I couldn’t reach her. I texted R to call her and tell her that I was doing fine, but within two minutes R called and began his sentence with “Everything is alright, but..” which meant something wasn’t right, and I would be greatly affected by what wasn’t right.

My dad was hospitalized for severe food borne illness after they attended a series of weddings, house-warming functions, and Diwali parties in the past few weeks. It always happens, you can only pretend to be in control of how the food is served, but you have no control on how the food is cooked at such places. When I was young, I once found a cigarette butt in my rice at a very religious place where smoking is strictly banned. R conferenced me and mom, and we talked. It was a long conversation. Her feeble voice gave me a report of conditions there, and her “Hello” was the indicator of her emotional strength. I mustered up courage, told her to man-up and take care of him, it’s nothing, and that he would be fine in a day.

But I didn’t have anyone to tell me that it was OK. I didn’t go to work, came home and called mom every few minutes all night to keep a virtual eye on dad’s condition. The “Hello” improved by morning, and she had regained her normal happy-peppy tone. Backseat babies came to know about their beloved grandfather during one such conversation that occurred during their pickup, and they started crying, one even wailing to get on a plane and go home, right now to be with their grandmother. I had more people to take care of, more people to talk courage to, and as usual, I put aside my own fears and worries till R came home and gave me a hug, a cue to let go of the guard and share the emotions, as they flow out of the heart. Within hours, my dad recovered, and was clearly out of danger. It will be a long road to complete recovery considering his age, but it’s not a big deal.

Daughter. Daughter turned six two weeks ago, and by some weird coincidence, she was born on the same day that I had a D&C to abort a pregnancy exactly a year ago. We had planned our second one to be a June baby, so that her sister could stay home the entire summer with her and go back to school when she turned three months old. My due date was 06.06.06. That day when the doctor looked at my chart, ultra sound and projected the due date, she said some people had selective C-sections to avoid the date. But later into the pregnancy, the heart beat stopped and the baby stopped growing suddenly. I didn’t drink any alcohol, and wasn’t stressed, still it happened.

We waited an entire weekend with a dead fetus inside me while my doctor obtained “necessary legal papers” to carry out the D&C. It only occurred to me few months ago that during that waiting time, the body can act up, and the mother can lose her life. But then, the grief of losing a baby was more than the anger against the legalities involved in an abortion. I got pregnant again, and after very stressful pregnancy where everyone felt entitled to express their opinions about my pregnancy, I delivered R2 three days before her due date, on the same day that I had my D&C a year ago. Maybe that was life telling me to move on, but still, on her birthday, I spend a few minutes alone in the bathroom early in the morning, thinking about the unborn. The rest of the family might have forgotten, but a mother never forgets. A mother does move on, wears pearls and tiaras with her daughter to celebrate her special day without a single line of worry on her face about things that happened in the past.

Connecticut. I don’t want to repeat what happened. I don’t want to read one more word about what happened. I don’t want to see the beautiful smiling faces of six year old children who were massacred. I really don’t want to read any blogs about his mental health. No one, I repeat no one has a right to take another person’s life no matter how deranged they are. That day when I read about the incident via Facebook stream, the only thing I wanted to do was,  bring my children home, hug them tight, and tell them their grades, their habits, their manners, their attitude, nothing mattered at all- all that mattered that day was, they waved me bye with a smile when they opened the car door and ran into the school, and they smiled at me as they waved at me from curb side, waiting to be picked up, alive.

I cannot imagine a child going to school one fine day, and not coming back. I wish no parent ever goes through that trauma. Suddenly I want to believe in Santa and ask him to bring a gift of long life to all children on the earth, no matter what their political inclinations. My Facebook stream is filled with articles and statuses about gun control. Obama shed a tear the other day touching the hearts of parents. This is turning political now. From the children, the attention is being shifted to another movement, which I am all for, to save the lives of our children and to stop such events in the future.

But, meanwhile, what is a parent to do? I will admit- I want to lock up my children in the house, home school them, never send them to movie theaters or malls, because it’s dangerous to go to schools, movies and malls. I am over reacting, the New Year is not going to change the way people think, but at this moment, it gives my heart peace to think that they are home, and safe. While I wrote this blog, my younger one sat next to me singing along “it’s the most wonderful time..”. How I wish it was the same for every child in the world. It feels so insensitive to hold my own children and be grateful, but that’s how we are wired.

That day, I wondered how I will break the news to the kids. When I picked up the older one, I turned on the radio, and Rush Limbaugh did the rest. He talked about it while we drove in silence. The older one was worried so much, the moment I pulled into the pickup queue, she opened the door and ran to pickup her younger sister, and for some reason, brought her away from the group of parents that were waiting. Later she explained, who knows, who was standing there, who had what weapon concealed in that jacket. I never had a sibling, so I can never understand that love, and that affection, or that worry. I was preparing myself to answer her questions about how she would go to school come Monday without fearing a gunman, and here she was, worried about her younger sister.

2012 brought in a lot of changes in life, and in lifestyle. I will leave the list of successes and failures and of retrospect for another time, but as I age, life experiences that I go through are slowly teaching me not to take anything at all for granted. If the child comes home after school, that’s happiness. If we go back home from work, that’s happiness. If we all spend a Saturday afternoon cleaning the house, that’s happiness. There is future, and dreams of a greater future where happiness is defined by some other things, but the next five minutes that nothing of greater proportion happened are happiness enough! I want to run away with my family into wilderness, sit somewhere atop a mountain and not worry about schools and malls, but who am I decide that mountain lions are less dangerous than a man with an automatic gun.

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