It’s a significant anniversary

Today, exactly four weeks after my beautiful died I’m at the old people’s ashram.

In memory of Manjula we’re gifting all today’s meals. I’ve arrived an hour early so it’s time to chill, remember and reflect and in a very limited way feed my addiction to share with you guys.

Back in Siddarthanagar smileys have appeared on the road, overnight.

Using stencils and water soluble spray paints they are another simple way to discreetly and publically remember and acknowledge.

There’s a fair amount of sweeping goes on at the ashram.

Checking out Manjula

Memories of Manjula

There are just so many….. photos everywhere (Manjula would complain that there were too many but I never believed her)

These are in prominent positions in the house.

This one with lots of her things as part of the pooja on specific days, they’re not always there!

The logo created by Punith.

videos ….

Article in the Guardian (photo is taken from the article)

The river Kaveri where Manjula said a prayer after our wedding celebration in the field on Srirangaptnam. A tender memory.

Facebook and blog postings, meals at the Ashram for the elderly residents ……. remembered happenings, and most importantly the piece of her that’s in my heart that will always make me smile, ( the T-shirt I gave her in recognition of this and the rosette I made awarding her best maid in Mysore after working for her for one year…. early signs of my love?)

the jokes, the giggles, bossing me around, the hair (she was losing it) I still find in nooks and crannies.

And what about this from Kate who came to stay with us years ago?

A lovely gesture, trees planted by treesthatcount.co.nz in New Zealand in memory of Manjula.

Thanks Kate, love it!

Grief

So far I’ve found three buckets (pails) of grief. As I share this, I realise that it might resonate with your own experiences. (See I’m moving on from me me me). As you know, I’m new to this. Maybe it might help others, who knows?

In bucket one is the stuff you just can’t avoid. The absolute challenges which you face when your loved one dies. The sudden trauma, the shock, the breathlessness of the realisation that she’s gone. Bam

Just like that! A wacking great big black hole.

No matter how much you think you prepare, or plan or maybe you had realised what might happen. …… It’s not enough. It has actually happened and you’ve just got to deal with it.

Your personal resilience might help, your belief system (they’re still here and gone onto greater things?) could wrap it up nicely, time will also be the proverbial healer, or so they say. My mate Tom says it’s like walking down or further away from the hill, you see more of the total picture and put it in perspective.

Bottom line is…. You ‘choose’ how to deal with it.

In the second bucket is the grief you can give yourself. You know the sort of thing. The what ifs? The guilt trips. The preoccupations. Missed opportunities. Recriminations. Regrets. The whispers you ignored. The stress.

In my view, this is the big challenge and again you choose. In this case you can maybe control how much you open the tap and fill the bucket.

So how much angst is there to be?

I don’t live a life with regrets but this is a whole different ball game. The smallest chink of light, the smallest possibility to catch the grief and you’ve got it. It’s hard.

In my and Manjula’s situation.

We’ve been dealing with a series of serious illnesses for over three years. I wonder if we could have handled it differently. More regular tests, quicker responsiveness to trying new things, better lifestyle such as exercises, different opinions, complementary medicines. I know though that it was very tough for Manjula, she hated the tests (usually with disapppinting results) the clinic merry go round, the manic mother hen husband, the too many tablets.

The second main choosing-to-give -myself-grief issue is how well we used the last twelve months.

After a spell in intensive care a year ago and her unhappy experience on a ventilator she was given another lease of life. I look back at the photos. We sort of had the old Manjula. After six months she began to lose weight, they thought she might have TB and her drugs didn’t seem to work. She was slipping away and I just didn’t know what to do.

At the end she’d had a heart attack and real difficulty breathing. This was on the Friday evening. They’d resuscitated her and not intubated her in line with my (her) request. On the Saturday morning she had another heart attack. Immediately before we managed to discuss and she only wanted to be on ventilator if it was a day or two. There was a real likelihood she would never be able to come off it. I decided to let her go.

We did do good things. We have so many happy memories.

She was keen to properly celebrate her birthday in August, she wanted to continue the BnB even as she lost more weight and lived between her bed, the downstairs lounge and outdoor sit out. She loved and livened up when meeting the guests.

We managed a final holiday in Kannur, the site of our first holiday together after becoming engaged three years ago.

Our time was precious. We had a wonderful, odd maybe but amazing relationship. From different worlds but all the better for it.

In that final year there were times we both knew where it was heading. Manjula would once or twice talk about death. Me forever the coward didn’t want that, couldn’t deal with it and worried that might in itself help bring it on. We had to remain positive. We should however have discussed it properly. Some might say I was in complete denial.

We seem to choose whether and how much to give ourselves the grief in bucket two, maybe not even the time of day or perhaps the full flow.

I realise now it’s useful to create your own narrative or ways of fathoming it all out. It requires a balanced view. I think we did the best in the circumstances.

Bottom line is ‘it’s how it is’

In bucket three the grief is more existential. What’s the purpose or point in life? What happens when we ‘move-on’ ?

That can remain with its lid on!

So now as we approach The fourth week since Manjula died we have a few more things to do to help her on the way.

It may now be time to step aside from the angst. It’ll still keep popping up but I’ll hold it with me

I thank you for allowing me to share and your kindness, patience and support by being there for me and Manjula.

Next I plan to bring you herstory.

Yes, I’ll lighten up…

Manjula’s story March and April 2019

I recognise how difficult it can be to keep track of the mish mash of postings. I’ve therefore put together a sort of index list of the most recent postings about Manjula.

I’ve found it it a real help to share my feelings at this very difficult time, the openness reflects the sort of life we’ve created and the amazing family (yes you) we now have throughout the world. I know its not always easy reading. Your support, feedback and encouragement has been great.  Its early days of course to decide what happens next but I may continue to post but in a different way, to bring to you some of the stories of her life that Manjula has shared with me.

So to help you see what I’ve recently posted here’s a list (with links) from March and April, a very very difficult time.

Team Briefing 17th March, link here

This came about as Manjula in a heartfelt way was worried that she couldn’t do any of the things she’d previously done. its her recognising how things were changing and my attempt to help Manjula recognise her continuing value and the priorities in her life. Links with Manjula taking back control on 29th March link here which I wrote a few days after she’d died. its here

Lucky 23rd March link here an old man recognising he’s so fortunate and first announcing the sad news,

Thank you 24th March the statement I made on the Saturday with friends and family gathered to say farewell and a lovely video of her talking to camera here

Manjula captured my heart here’s a graphic of a birthday card I made for her based on some famous graffiti by Banksy, in the original the little girl loses the heart but not in this case! check here

Missing Manjula 1 a couple of examples of friends comments and photos with an appeal to send more examples, its here 

I’ve been so touched by the many many many emails, messages, postings from around the world. I’m also not surprised. Sorry but as yet, Ive not managed to reply to everyone and want yo do it personally. Its also proving to be a bit difficult to work out what to do ….  There may be Missing Manjula 2 might be a posting or might be a book of highlights!

Do follow to see what happens.

Bereft and Tearful, says it all, reflecting from a Mysore Park and wanting help here

The follow up about continuing Manjula’s creation and how we’d like you to get involved is here please do see if you can help …… by following the blog or coming to be part….

Ashi Vasarjan the ceremony where I immersed Manjula’s ashes in the Kaveri river at Paschivahimi. Great video although some might find it a bit hard. Its here

It’s a hot hot day, Manjula’s brother and his wife come back to Mysore to discuss preparations for the very significant 11th day. It’s not straightforward.  details of that meeting are here

The 11th day, here, was itself quite a challenge, its an important event but the dynamic of they only discovering we were married at the Ashi Vasarjan added to the complexity of the situation and wasn’t helped by their attempts to try and get anything of value to sell!! (exactly why Manjula didn’t want us to the tell them about our marriage)

Tender, my true love a few soppy words from a lover here, (What is this man like?) the photo is in our lounge and was decorated with fresh photos every day. There’s now a lovely photo of the beautiful Manjula on each floor with a special sandal wood garland thing.

An important part of the Hindu rituals at this time is to give and offer food. On the 11th day food was offered to Manjula (plenty of meat, its me that was the veggie) as part of the Pooja this food was also taken on to the roof for the birds to eat. That’s symbolic and shows that Manjula has eaten and its part of the process of helping her move on and her spirit finding a new resting place. We also offered food on her behalf, to others by paying for meals at an Ashram, a home for older people, it was lovely and its here. 

As you will have noticed there has been tremendous help and support not least from Tom and Amy who flew in from Malaysia when they’d heard about Manjula’s death. They stayed for two weeks and have been incredible support, I couldn’t have managed without them. We first met them when visiting us as guests years ago, they’ve now been here three times this year! Last year Tom filmed our wedding and Amy was the celebrant  who created the whole ceremony. Satish, Tanuja and Vasanth have been sorting out the whole series of things we’ve had to and been very tolerant of the English man’s crazy requests. Others have just spontaneously helped such as the team from Royal Mysore Walks (aka Gully Tours) who brought breakfast round one morning. Super  there have been some many great was to remember our Manjula.

I love my stick insect and she did get a bit thin with one of her videos showing her character and humour. its here

Manjula has changed me in so many ways, it has well and truly taken me out of my comfort zone now, but it also did challenge me over the last few years of helping her through her illnesses. It cannot in any way detract from our nine years together that has been an illuminating joy. Here’s one take on what I think she has done in creating our home and in becoming my wife. If I can get my head around it and  improve my writing I hope to share more of that story. The challenge is to be entertaining and accessible in my writing, erm!

I realise that in the land of ‘nothing ever works as planned’ Manjula has been my golden key, my ‘get out of jail free card’, I’m now alone but check here she’s also been my and others boss, even demanding peaches being brought from the U.K.

This whole awful experience has got me thinking in so many different ways, its a bumpy road with bumps, rocks, pot holes, mental turmoil and the grief we receive as part of the process and ‘choose’ to give ourselves….What about swopping places?  gives a bit more insight here

I hope that helps you make sense of what has been posted so you can choose to check through anything you’ve missed and get a more coherent story.

Walking Luci

We’re out on our morning walk and stopped to sit reflect and write in one of the many local parks.

There’s a guy wandering around the park. There are two friendly boys following.

What is he doing?

In his bag there’s a series of containers with what seems to be powders, seeds and maybe even snacky things.

He’s distributing little piles all over the park.

Piles of powder on the ground Crunchy stuff on top of the walls.

Got it!

He’s feeding the insects and the birds.

I’m assuming he’s a Jain, doing good things particularly for the animals and that can’t be too bad for his Karma and future incarnation!

Footnote

A kindly neighbour loaned me a copy of the Bhagavad Gita with a recommendation to read the section on death. It helps illuminate the ‘matter of factness’ of the Hindu approach. As wordly family we shouldn’t get too attached as the spirit lives on ….. the spirit moves on to another body and as it progresses becomes part of the greater whole. We’ve done the main rituals and send our positive vibes hoping Manjula has found her new home. We know she deserves a good one.

Help

With a little help from our friends we’ll keep Manjula’s creation going.

First, please do stay in touch and continue to read the postings at http://www.meandmycycle.com

Second, if anyone can come stay and look after Luci when I’m away that would be a great help and comfort for her. Possible timings are May, July and September.

Third, come and help out. In return for accommodation and breakfast help me keep the place going.

In my view this is a way to keep our home available, to share with the rich mix of people from around the world and maintain those wonderful connections.

Or ….. of course please do return and invite your friends to come as future guests of Manjula’s at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.

I write and postc this as Tom and Amy say hoagie bartini (see you again) and drive down the road with dogs chasing them away….. after coming to the rescue and supporting me for these past two weeks. Super troopers, thank you so much I couldn’t have managed without you!

and back to you guys….. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you.

Peas and love

Stephen and Luci

What’s this then? Twisted logic, you’ve got to laugh to break away from the tears. An imagined back to the future, reincarnation: Manjula as a 1940s Englishwoman and Stephen as an Indian sailor, mini size with Luci as the boss.