Last week, my wife lost her father. It was as sudden as it was expected; as expected as bolts of lightning can ever be. And in the time since, our entire little tiny world which was just beginning to come together, has crumbled to its core.
He was a wonderful man. A grizzled New Yorker; an endangered species. Lou Reed is gone. Bob Dylan’s surely not far behind. Steel-tough yet soft and sentimental, he was always genuinely pleased to see me. He always offered an ear and a shoulder, and more than once offered too much of his time and invaluable help when others disappointed.
He was a great, quiet man, and he is greatly missed.
All that is left is the vacuum of his absence. My wife is a mess. My daughter is internalising all the sadness that surrounds her and is acting up and lashing out. Others that I have come to care deeply about are scarred and damaged. Everyone is walking wounded, doing little more than existing in the moment in the most basic, inhuman way.
Like now: my wife is lying beside me. My own brother – who came for the shiva (seven days of mourning) – is meeting his office colleagues even as he could not find the time to meet me. And my wife doses, wakes in fits and starts. I am no help to her. Not here. But not not here, either. And so I exist as this presence that does absolutely nothing. That can do nothing, even as I am hurting in my own, tiny, insignificant way.
There is only one thing worse than seeing those we love in pain: being unable to heal that pain.