Letting Go of Al and My Kids

Our marriage ceremony Golden Gate Park
in San Francisco 1971

I have had more than two full and difficult months. When I last wrote about Al, I mentioned that he had had a stroke. His stroke was on the weekend before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, our son Satvamrita arrived from India to take care of him.

In that post, I said I didn’t know whether either one of us would live for a few days or ten or more years because the next moment is not in our hands.

On December 29, I had an appointment to get my eyes checked about two blocks from Al’s apartment. The friend that drove me and I were invited to come to his apartment for dinner after the appointment. We decided to go. I’m sure glad we made that decision. (I generally don’t go anywhere because of Covid.) That dinner was the last time I saw Al.

He had had trouble sleeping for months before the stroke. He would go to bed in the late afternoon, wake up about eight and then be up most of the night. He had followed the same sleeping pattern after his stroke. On January 6, he started sleeping all the time. Satvamrita wasn’t even able to wake him up for appointments. Then, in the early morning of January 8, he took his last breath. So he ended up passing in his sleep.

He was ready to go and he was finally out of pain. (He had been having severe leg pain for months if not years.) I wasn’t ready though. I had never considered it a possibility that he would be gone so soon. After all, Chaitanya was coming to relieve her brother in mid-March. In my mind, they would continue trading off caring for him for years.

I was also not at all prepared for how deeply Al’s death would affect me. When Satvamrita called me that morning to let me know his father had passed, he was feeling such deep grief. I burst into tears and felt so sad, sad for Al, sad for my kids, and sad for myself. I cried spontaneously many times over the next weeks and I imagine that will continue to happen from time to time. Al’s presence in my life clearly had meant a lot to me.

My kids planned their dad’s memorial to be held three weeks after his death. There was both an onsite function and a zoom option as some of Al’s contemporaries would have been hesitant to venture out in the current Covid situation. Since I am now living in a senior community, I also decided for the zoom option.

There was a video that was created for that event. My kids collected pictures from throughout his life and also some videos. They then sent them to a friend at Amma’s Amritapuri ashram in India and she created the memorial video. I often cried as I watched it. It is so beautiful.

(The video has photos of when Al and I and our children were young, and information about his extensive career working with the homeless.)

Not only was I dealing with Al’s loss but I had to deal with the fact my children would soon return to India. Luckily they had spent significant amounts of time with me throughout their stay here. But letting go is still difficult.

They are presently in Norfolk, Virginia spreading some of their dad’s ashes and from there will go to Baltimore to do the same. On February 10, they will go back to India.

I know that I will talk to and correspond with them frequently when they return to India. They are always good about staying in touch. But it has been several long and difficult months. I know I have to be gentle with myself and I am very appreciative of all the friends that are helping me.

I will miss Satvamrita and Chaitanya and I will miss Al.

Al, Sreejit (his name before he was initiated as Satvamrita) and Chaitanya in 2018.

***

Before he died, Al wrote a memoir about his childhood. Although the memoir details many of the abuses he suffered, it is also an inspiring story of how he was able to keep picking himself up, over and over again to make the best possible circumstances out of the situations he found himself in. You can find both kindle and paperback versions on Amazon, if you’re interested.

22 thoughts on “Letting Go of Al and My Kids

  1. Greetings Karuna, What a touching tribute to Al. I did not meet him and only knew of him through the stories you shared. I am struck by how much of your life you have spent in service to others just as Al did. A life well lived. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Karuna, thank you, always, for your reflections on life and living, and letting go. Very sobering. My heart is with you. As you know my older children’s father suddenly passed 2 weeks after Al. We shared our childhood together and early adult years. It truly does have an impact. I think of you often. Love and hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Susanta,
      I did know your children’s father had passed two weeks after Al. You always have said that we have a lot in common, but this is amazing. It brought tears to my eyes.

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      1. Dear Karuna, I want you to know that Amma brings you into my thoughts consistently. I am saying prayers for you , Al & the family each time I am promoted which is daily. Sending you loads of Love & Peace — We are always with Her.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know that Al had passed, Karuna. My thoughts and prayers are with you during your transition. How are you doing? Do you have enough friends helping you in your living situation? The last I heard, Tip and Shakti Priya were coming to see you in October.

    I’ve moved back in with my brother, Richard, and his wife of two years, Punkin, because of my Parkinson’s. She helps me bathe and get my gown on to walk around the house in the AM. I know that her Christian training helped her become the helpful person that she is. She’s very sweet and forthright about her faith in God.

    Leo moved back in with his daughter and son-in-law. They’re buying a new house to have room for Leo and 3 kids. I miss him but my walking (I use an aluminum walker, not the rollator) is so poor that I don’t know if we’ll ever live together again. He uses a rollator outdoors, but refuses to use one indoors. He’s not stable enough to get me up when I fall, as Richard has pointed out. Oh well, at age 73 my relationship days are pretty much over.

    Love,

    Madhuri

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  4. Om Namah shivaya

    Hello dear Karuna. I’m so sorry to read about Al’s passing. It’s very sad for all of you. And hard too that your kids are heading back to India. Sending lots of love to you dear one.

    Nitya

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Karuna – You’ve been on my mind and I’ll send you an email. How lovely that Al passed in his sleep, and that Satvamrita was with him. You are really being tested in so many ways, but your spirit continues to shine through. XOXO

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  6. Dear Karuna, Compassion fills my heart for you and your children. This passing is so deeply meaningful and has been observed in such kind and loving ways. A poignant time.
    Much Love, Karen Sumati Marks

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  7. Karuna, I’m sorry for your loss with Al’s passing and your sadness in saying your good byes to your children. Your posts have invited me to reminisce about our connections in years past and as I reflect on my life, you have played a significant role in my nursing career. You and Lenore believed in my potential and challenged me to risk, grow and believe. I am eternally grateful to both of you as I have had the joy and privilege of being authentically myself throughout my nursing career. Love, Joan

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