A nightlight in darkness

We were trying to give a bath to Michael. He was our mischievous boxer dog, and Sheri was too fond of him. He was not much interested in his cosmetics and would jump and thrash when we tried to give him the bath.
“Acha….hold tight!....He will jump”, she said
I was trying to shampoo his head and he boxed me with his head. That was his style. I slipped and fell down.
Sheri burst in to laughter.....  A thousand tinkling bells.

I woke up in the middle of her laughter. It was darkness and took me some time to realize I was alone and in bed. God! Was it a dream!
It is more than a year since my daughter in law died and I have wept silently every day. Not a single day passes without remembering her. Though I know she is gone, I expect her to walk in the door at any moment and say "Acha..." I think she will call me and we will talk about our action plans at home …. None of this will happen, still.
Michael had left us suddenly one day  and all our troubles started. Within few weeks, Sheri was taken ill.While Sheri was at the hospital,my wife had a heart attack... Do misfortunes flock together? We had planned everything for her recovery.... And that is another thing I learned now. To be prepared for unexpected turns in life.

She made people laugh and time flew when she was around. She was a born singer and was never hesitant. You  just have to ask her, and she had a song ready for any occasion. Her laughter filled the room with all the unheard music and a warmth you never felt before. You could talk to her and she'll help you be at ease, she could change your bitterness, just being with her. Her love reflected God to me, even as I wonder if He really cared about her innocent child, our aching hearts and the endless tears of her parents. Her joy in the midst of circumstances, her hospitality in the face of illness and disability, her laughter in the wake of disappointment, offers me hope that eventually  all of us could learn to behave like her.
Anyone who knew Sheri knew that her family was the center of her life. She brought together everyone in our family. She remembered the birthdays of each and everyone in the family and all of her friends, from the youngest to the oldest. And she never forgot to buy them gifts. She enjoyed in giving.
She would look at me with that coy smile of hers and say, “Oh Acha, you just worry way too much! “
“Acha” she would say,” I have sold 5 Kg of old magazines from Amma’s collection “
“Acha, I cleaned all the kitchen cupboards, and got rid of a dozen bottles from the store”
My wife was notoriously possessive about old magazines, empty bottles and tins; there was no space anywhere at home to keep them all. Sheri and I had entered a secret pact to get rid of as much as possible when my wife would come to stay with me. Sheri trusted me and would call me and give me daily reports of what all she could get rid of.
She will always be a part of my heart and soul. I will always miss her love, her smart and occasional funny remarks, her smile, the food she used to cook specially for me when I go home on vacations.

When a child dies, we lose our commonsense faith in life's predictability. The unanticipated early death cuts through what we have formerly assumed is a natural order of things, shaking the very foundations of our living. All we believed comes into question and we feel as if we have no ground to stand on. All our dreams and hopes are shattered. I had wished if I never existed.
How different this is from the sadness we feel when an older person dies. I remember the time when my mother died. I could understand her long struggle with her illness and accept that her departure had saved her from further sufferings. I reconciled with that truth easily. If she had lived a full life and died naturally, we may miss her, reminisce about all she meant to us, and perhaps wish that we had taken more time to appreciate her. We also come to acknowledge that life brings a series of losses, and we may even understand that they are somehow necessary, or at least part of everyone's experience. But the death of a young person attacks our understanding of life's rhythm and purpose, leaving us wandering in unmapped territories.

Nothing in life prepares you for the death of a child. After Sheri died a year ago, I examined and re-examined my existing values, beliefs and priorities. This process was made extremely challenging by the tearing pain of my early grief. I am a different person, and in many ways, a better person as a result of my struggle with her illness and death. I have also learned some important lessons about love, faith, and the enduring power of relationships.

Now I can understand the depth of the sadness and misery of her parents. If I feel about her this way, how could her own parents take it ! I feel ashamed at the ways I had occasionally thought about their reactions. Their pain is much worse than mine and is going to stay, no matter whatever others may say or do. It is the greatest of their losses.

When I look around, I can see others walking the same path.  Even when the night is at its darkest, I can see streaks of light at distance. Our ability to see light in the midst of darkness will help us to survive in a world without the physical presence of the lost one. When we walk in awareness, we can develop our own unique insights that will help us during our journeys.
If we commit to working through the pain of our grief, that pain may transcend to unconditional love for others.
I will continue to weep, sometimes be angry, to mourn, and to draw strength from others who walk this same path.


  1. Sad. truly sad. God calls back all virtuous people soon..

    I rembr, u have dedicated a poem to her memory..

  2. Sheri is so beautiful in this picture. Once again a truly touching post @Doc!

    Life is not fair at times. What to do? Can't even imagine how your son and rest of the family is coping with it all.

  3. its very sad!..such a pretty girl..and such a warm person...God bless the departed soul!
    my sympathies..its all destined Sir..only the ways to part from our loved ones are different!

  4. What is fair and unfair? Our judgments are in relation to our personal feelings. Aren’t they?
    Has, Nature ever decreed anywhere, anytime that death shall consume people according to their age. Longevity, healthy or otherwise is just a chance. Isn’t it so?
    I recall an incident thirty one years ago when the neighborhood gentleman came to my house to console the inconsolable grandfather of mine. He lost his son (my uncle) .And quirk of fate some ten years ago I was by the side of this gentleman recollecting to myself all that he told my grandfather as consolation and support, and now he was bereaved, his son aged eighteen died. Is there a design, a predetermined pattern for death to intervene? I think no.

    Yes it is pretty easy to provide discourse to another. I acknowledge that.

  5. Wounds that will never heal...

    Whenever my son goes off alone or with his friends somewhere, I try to hide my fear and tension, thinking of what if something ill befall on him. Thats the only thing I am scared of. Every time I read newspapers about the untimely death of youngsters, I cringe inward thinking of my son. Thats my only fear.

    I can understand your sorrow, Doc. Every thought of such sorrow should make us humble before the might of nature. For comfort, pray if you like; but never forget the fickleness of life...

  6. You know I was showing this exact pic of Sheri n ur son to my room mate and telling about her. I was a bit shocked when I saw this article...

    I was a bit depressed when you wrote about how her parents reacted...mostly because I have seen then while we were college and liked them...and I am so relieved to know that you are able to think of their grief more than yours...it takes a lot of strength to think standing in another person's perspective...hence my respect for u has grown bigger doctor... Hope God consoles your family and her family in all these dark moments..

  7. What a beautiful person Sheri was. It is always hard when someone goes before we expect them too. I know how you feel and the love you had for someone close to you when this happens, especially so young and vibrant and full of life. I could say this feeling of loss will pass but it won't, she is in your heart forever. My sister committed suicide, she was 49 years old and I still miss her as if it be yesterday. May God bless you and all the others this has touched.

  8. She was so beautiful. And she has been such a good person too. No wonder you miss her so much. Remember the good times with her. That is all what remains, memories, isn't it?

  9. I am out of words. Its a great loss which can never be compensated for sure. God be with you

  10. such a beautiful girl!..really life is not fair..why god takes some in the youth is a mistery.

    You were lucky to have her, even if for a short time, and she was lucky as she is remembred by you so fondly.

  11. What a beautiful and moving tribute - it is so wonderful that you had such a relationship with your daughter-in-law and shows what a sensitive, caring person you are.

  12. I admire her charming beauty and a kind of radiance which reflects on her face reflecting her soul.I can relate your situation closely because lately ,I lost my aunt's son ,who was 13 and was drowned in the beach.It's so hard for the parents because it goes with a very famous saying "when you lose your parents you lose your past,when you lose your child ,you lose your future".They must have lived so much of their future with that child.

  13. You have had a heavy burden to carry this year and I can sense how deeply loss has affected you. Know there are people who care and will keep you in their thoughts and prayers. I hope you have a stress-free weekend. Blessings...Mary

  14. that is real sad...

    but your love for your daughter in law - Sheri is so beautiful.....

  15. I often think god loves the young and good people as much as we do- so they die young! I cant say anything to console you and your son I know that.. but you know what touched me is the way you love her - like your own daughter- not many fathers in law would...!

  16. you are right. sheri's parents cannot help reacting the way they did. they've lost a daughter and their loss is irreplaceable. But you and your wife have also lost a dear daughter in law. Your loss is in no way less than theirs.She looks so sweet. How did she manage to get so sick? can't believe it.

  17. It is wonderful to hear about the cute things you did with her and the depth of your feelings for here. You are right, it is difficult to make sense of losing a child or someone else who was young. Logic and everything else fails you. What happened to her? How did she go away so young? The pain is deep and stays a long while. But, the happy memories will be there forever... I hope you can derive strength from them when you are depressed.

  18. Anthony sir, I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. Words fail me here. I can only pray to God that Sheri rests in peace and all of you have the strength and courage to guard your emotions for Sheri while working through your feelings and that all of you are able to move on. The pain will never go but you will learn to live and smile in fond memories of Sheri.

  19. Yea, I remember reading about your daughter in law. I dont know what else to say to comfort you.

  20. felt very sad reading this.dont know what to say.

  21. Hope God gives you strength to overcome this difficult phase. Nothing more to say, since I know some losses haunt us forever.

  22. Dr Antony,

    I started reading and the moment you mention you woke up I knew where it is heading. I stopped reading. I could not read anymore.

    I came back today to read. My heart goes out for you. Life is tough sometimes. She was more than a daughter in law and more than a daughter to you. We can understand your feeling but your writings make us feel your feelings. It is very sad.

  23. I could not complete my message. People say time heals but I disagree. We just learn to live with the loss. I wish I could say something that will cheer you up.

  24. Truly heart breaking to read you.. She is so beautiful!

    If you as her FIL still grieves for her, I cannot imagine the condition of her parents. At times it is difficult to understand the Almighty's ways.. but we can do nothing but accept. May His healing hands touch your heart.

  25. Greetings from Southern California

    God bless you and have a nice day :-

  26. @Doc! Long time no see... Hope all is well.

  27. I felt miserable when my father passed away,but i decided not to beleive that. Even now i dont feel like he is no more, all i feel is a kind of anger that i dont get to see him at all..

  28. Sir , I ahd come and read this post earlier but did not know what to say .. Now i have come again to read it and i still dont know what to say

    All I can think of is I hope and pray god gives you the strength .. Take care of yourself I am sure Sheri would want that ..

    God bless..

  29. Dr. A,
    Reading your post brought tears to my eyes. It is a sad story. And you are right, it's not the same when a younger person dies vrs. an elderly. Many of my nursing home residents die, and even though I feel sadness, I find comfort in knowing that they had a life, an opportunity and that we did our best to provide comfort, companion and good care at the end of their lives. Not the same when an unexpected death occurs, and the deceased is a young person.

    Three days ago, my heart ached as it was nine years since my son's father died at age 40, in a tragic event. Life is never the same after loosing a loved one.



  30. Its easy to say that life is unpredictable and try to console.
    I think the better option is to think all the good good things about that peson when she/he was alive.
    I know how it is ......

  31. @Doc! You have an award waiting for you at my blog. Please check it out!

  32. To all my friends
    I am sorry I could not respond to all the words of encouragement .I was held up at work. It happens often , because we are short of staff.
    Thanks for all the kind words of support. They really matter at times of loss.
    I always thought that memories warp and fade, but never die. They stay on like scabs, and bleed on touch. There can’t be a permanent healing.
    Like Doris said,life is not the same after losing a loved one.
    Sheri’s illness was unexpected. She developed pain in the abdomen and was diagnosed to have a malignant tumor. The doctors who treated her were confident, but the course of her illness was unexpected. From the day she was started on treatment, she suffered in front of my eyes. I had prayed to relieve her of her pain and suffering.
    I can’t think of her without tears clouding my eyes. She was so special.
    Like I had written, I can see others walking the same path, if not, worse. Not that it eases the pain. But it gives some kind of courage.
    Welcome to Ron Joe and Mary. Come as often as you can. Acts and words of kindness never go unpaid.
    Thanks to Hepzibah for the award. I will pick it up. It was kind of you to send a word of enquiry in my absence. That is what we call friendship.

  33. Her inner beauty shines in her face.
    What a great loss to her child.

  34. Acha,

    I had written a long comment-as painful as it was....and then some thing goes wrong with the system and I lose it all....

    I was about to curse the turn out of things and then I remembered - "Why should I and whom should I curse - God? -should He be the one responsible for all of this crap that has befallen our lives??"
    This is small in comparision to the larger things that go wrong on an on-off basis in life ...(I have been taught that by this period in my life....), so if that loss has hit you, no other loss should!!! And I take what has transpired with a smile and start writing again.....

    Sheri- I always used to say was my first baby, though we have our lil Kevini...everything about her was child like - her smile, her innocence, her talks, her reactions to situations..everything!!!

    I sometimes ask God-why her? And I sometimes console myself thinking that maybe there was some purpose to be served-do I need to lead a more meaningful life? Should I be of use , should I be a source of support for the less privileged ones? Sometimes I think that the answer is Yes - if she has left for heaven and I still continue to be as carefree about life as I was - what purpose did her death serve? And so my choices since then were influenced by this mindset, and so you know...!!!No regrets - she is happy for me as she always has been..!!!

    I miss her in my life beyond what I can say or express..some days are just killing...still I live on...a day will come for everyone...and its easier to accept if one believes in God and HIS unfailing plans...one day..one day..we will surely re-unite...in God's abode..!!! Till then, I guess I have no choice but to play my role in God's plan with unfailing devotion and commitment to the entrusted roles...!!!

    Death is no longer scary, if our Sheri can take it, we should too and more readily....so in a sense we have emerged stronger in tragedy!!!I don't necessarily agree with what has transpired in our lives, and her loss is just outright painful...but there's no choice and when we are are in that state...just remember the saying" Beggars can't be Choosers"...God chose not to give and therefore, let's just hope in all earnest that wherever she is God is taking good care of his daughter who stuck to her faith even on her deathbed...!!!

    Sheri loved her freedom, she was like a bird, and I guess she is free now....free from pain, from from the anguish this world gives....I am in a sense happy for her....when I think about the pain that she underwent...!!!God is kind.....!!!

    Some people spend their entire lives doing stuff to earn a place in God's abode, some do more than their share...such people HE calls early....simply put that's it!!!

    Our angel lives forever in our hearts.....she has left a mirror image of herself for us to remember her by - our Kevini-let's be thanful we have him!!!

    God Bless!!!


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