Why write to Manjula?

Thank you for your kind responses via messages, phone calls, Facebook and here on this site, to my two letters. It’s been important for me to share and feel your support.

In passing through the grief portal of pain to love, to understand and know Manjula better. I’ve found a few useful books.

The letter to Manjula was me talking to her to recognise my loss, and share with her, my remorse which I wasn’t able to before she died. It’s part of a process outlined in the grief handbook the book on top of the pile.

Is the latest I read, especially useful as there was a distinct loss of meaning and still is to an extent.

I’ve maybe written the letter a dozen times but it’s only now I’ve felt able to share it with her. In therapeutic groups or pairs they’ll often read their letter out to each other.

It’s quite interesting to shift from focussing on her body/ego to her soul spirit wherever that might now be.

It’s been quite a journey from the devastation I felt through to recognising my absolute love and devotion to Manjula. There’s now more sweet and less bitter and my first thought is now more likely to bring a smile, than a tear.

I now know her better, partly as I’m researching and writing our story.

Meanwhile Mysore comes back to life. There’s been an unlocking. Here’s a few shots from our morning walk

Taking home a palm branch for his fire.
Any opportunity to sell and survive
Lucie in our park after today’s walk. Determined to keep away from me and entice ticks.
Ha ha this one isn’t from our walk 🙂 it’s one of Manjula’s favourite flowers and now a tattoo.

a letter to Manjula

My dearest Manjula,

I’ve written this letter many times but non have been right. I think it’s now time to just do it. I’m writing to say sorry and thank you.

You’re everywhere, with me, with Lucie, all our friends and always will be but where’s your spirit now?

We’ve done all the Hindu rites to help you on your way. I hope your beautiful compassionate spirit soul will be closer to your moksha as you were so positive, good and kind in this life, even with all it’s difficulties.

I wish you were here with me now. I’d be looking into your eyes and be able to tell if you hadn’t understood any words so I could change them for you. We were amazing together and you are the most important thing to me in my life.

I’m devastated by losing you, I will always love you. You made me happy but I got some things wrong and for that I’m so sorry.

When you died, I felt a lot of pain and still do. I wish that things were different. I feel guilty and wish I could swop places with you. You’ve left the most unbelievable gap in my life, nothing can ever be the same but the good thing is you’re still here and always will be.

I’m sorry for letting you down.

When you were diagnosed: I should have contacted more people for advice and got you to a doctor in England; got married straight away and if need be, moved there. I wish I’d tried everything to help you live longer and have a good life. I trusted that they would sort it out here and I was wrong, maybe nothing else would have worked, we just don’t know. I now have to accept what is.

Overall I should have been less the action man, taking charge and been more in tune and sensitive to you. You had a terribly difficult time but you were so strong, positive and caring, and didn’t show how hard it was for you. The last months and especially that final week I didn’t know what to do for the best.

On the last Friday night you had a heart attack and they brought you back to life. The Doctors said that if you had another they would need to use the ventilator and might not be able to get you off it. You only wanted to be on the machine for one day so when you had second attack, I had to ask them to let you go.

That is and will be the most difficult decision in my whole life. 

Your illness and all that followed was also difficult for me, I was numb by it all and not as aware as I should have been. I was grieving a long time even before I lost you, we both knew that was happening but I couldn’t recognise and deal with it, it was all too much. I often didn’t know what to do.

I am so sorry that I was angry with you that last Tuesday when I realised you hadn’t taken your tablets. There was never any problem affording the drugs, hospitals or doctors, I told you but I realise now you’d had enough. I hadn’t been properly listening to you. I wish I had done more and better.

For these things I am so sorry, I let you down and now because of that I don’t have you with me.

I’ve never had regrets before and I’ve cried so much I think I might need a top up of salt.  😉

I miss you so much and wish you were here. We will connect again.

What’s important is, we found each other, fell in love and created a wonderful life together. Thank you for giving me a life lived with love and joy, sharing yourself with me. You are the kindest person.

Here and now I’ve just lost more salt. I wish there was more hugging you, kissing you, touching you, listening to you, telling you I loved you and more honeymoon (Kama) together.

Our friends have been wonderful support, Lucie has taken your place as my new boss. I know, I know, as we both said, we were equal.

You’d like the things I’ve done: gifts of Manjula pens and steel straws to our friends, four, yes four stone benches in parks to remember you, for all the people to use, meals at the Ashram, I’ve cycled a giant photo of you around Mysore, made a memory tree and even got Manjula flags in the hall made from your clothes. I’ve told everyone in the world that we were married and I love you, which I always wanted to do. I’ll do more.

I promise to write our story. As I write it and better understand your recordings, I realise how you had such struggles throughout your life. Maybe we thought they were in the past when we met up but the illness created even more problems. It must have been especially hard for you for those last few weeks. I’m sorry I wasn’t listening enough, providing better support and showing my love more.

One of the many wonderful thing about you is even though you’ve had all those difficulties throughout your life, you’ve always been kind to people helping whenever you can and so many tell me, you lit up their lives (and mine) and blessed them with your bright wonderful smile.

So this letter to you is to say and I’m sorry and to thank you for being with me and the wonderful nine years we were together, when I know you were mostly happy.

But it isn’t yet the end. It’s the beginning of something else. You aren’t rid of me, there is unfinished business.

I miss your smile, your wit, our fun and love,

Love from your forever  husband,

Stephen

x

Virus 5

On your own in lockdown? Who do you talk to?

First and foremost MAnjula. In the morning, last thing at night and as I write, aspects of her story. This is her favourite colour and one of her chosen flowers. It’s on of five crore and one memories. Roses were for specific events such as birthdays or just to say I love you. Yes, me, fab.

On solo lockdown I’m here walking with Lucie who together with the crows and squirrel in the tree by my balcony are my feathered furry friends.

I’ll say hello to neighbours and pass the time of day but my closer friends are further away. I get regular calls and emails to check I’m OK

Zoom and FaceTime are of course essential. Particularly to be in touch with daughter-in-law (aka family lubricant) and sons Ol and Ben. Oh and of course my granddaughter when she has time in her busy life and is telling me to wait. 🙃🙂😉☀️☝️

Don’t forget the plants

Or create an entertaining video about the very subject.

Or see how untouchability serves this new situation and helps create a new other

Sunflower day.

Hello from lockdown land here in Mysore. Lucie and I were getting bored with each other so we’ve created sunflower day. It’s a day to invite friends to visit. Here they are in the photo. Can you spot them?

How many are there?

Someone’s sneaked in five pictures of Manjula. That’s cheating and only counts as one.

Update: I can see three gods clearly, and there are two hidden away.

There’s more detailed photos below

There’s three gods in this photo, where’s the Australian animal?
One god and a dog
We have so many friends…

Lovely quotes

Here’s a recent post from my Facebook page.

I admitted that I hadn’t quite got round to my letter to Manjula ( I still haven’t managed to complete it) and referred back to a wonderful review from a previous guest Manjir who visited years ago with her husband and daughter. Here’s the review. and original posting. It helps show why we loved sharing our home and will continue to.

Manjir has just written to me today, remembering Manjula, with kind thoughts and has shared a great quote from Rabindranath Tagore: “In the dualism of death and life there is a harmony. We know that the life of a soul, which is finite in its expression, and infinite in its principle, must go through the portals of death in its journey to realise the infinite.” Thank you for your support Manjir.

It reminds me of another quote I also found this week, which also resonates as I work through the pain of grief to discover my and Manjula’s love: “anyone who has experienced the passing of someone close knows that death is a portal to love.”

Virus 3

Curfew

we had one for a day yesterday then made some noise to recognise the people who are invaluable in providing support

we’re now entering a proper period of isolation

gora (aka whitey)

I’ve now had one or two incidents of looks, avoidance and neighbour calling the kids in as Lucie and I walked past. We’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume they were worried by the dog. They’ve known us over nine years. Another example of how easy it is to polarise and create distance from the ‘other.’

of course the fact is that the risk of getting the virus here is mainly from returning Indians, the holidaying foreigners have mostly gone. A whiteness label helps feed prejudice

Manjula’s death anniversary  

most ideas have been deferred to August when we’ll celebrate her birth and life

today I’m cycling around Mysore with her and keeping a safe distance from anyone

being careful 

I’m  washing my hands carefully. This is according to Manjula’s high standards: lather the soap, Thoroughtly wash backs, fronts, between fingers, nails, wrists, up arms. A MAnjula finishing touch was to rinse the tap Before turning it off. She did this religiously over our nine years together  

My problem is, first thing after my hand wash I write my daily pages my creative journal thing but I get the pages wet and the ink runs.

Why?

My bracelets are wet through.

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What should I do?

stop being a wus

i think we can see that on the scale of things (fingers crossed) that I’m managing this virus thing quite easily. Not that it hasn’t been an awful year because of losing my love and if MAnjula was here with her condition I’d be the proverbial Panicking worrying headless chicken.

It brings home to me how fortunate I am and how people around the world living from hand to mouth already have such hard times which are exacerbated in these terrible circumstances.

Manjula

we remember our majesty, her specialness, her smile, her love, her everthingness on this the anniversary of her death.

we love you Manjula and feel your warmth as you’re always with us.

Stephen and Lucie

later …… I’m back home now. That wonderful woman has followed me all over Mysore including visiting the ashram where we regularly sponsor the meals. We’ve kept our Distance so as not to put ourselves or anyone else at risk. Manjula was introduced to neighbours she already knew and many more during our journey. There’s no doubt they all know we were married. We creating many smiles and we’re applauded everywhere we went. I’ve lost count of the thumbs up. Today her anniversary, was the day after the curfew and tomorrow there’s a full on lock-down, seems appropriate some how. Thanks for your thoughts and support.
Stephen