I’ve been wanting to write this letter for so many moons now. That perfect sunny Southern California afternoon. It replays in my mind randomly, regularly.
Jai had just woken up and we were in my room on the bed. His sweet laughter filled the room – endless tickles from you and me. We almost couldn’t believe we were here, after such a crazy few years – Jai had come so far. You were so proud of us all. You had been with us for months since I was on bed rest and dad had just flown in to be there for the arrival of Jai’s baby brother, only a few days away. It was an imperfectly perfect afternoon. Even though I was stuck in bed – it was all I needed to have you and dad there…the comfort, the love that only parents bring.
We were all smiles on that cozy bed. Your warmth, love, admiration for him. Jai’s giggles…his big brown eyes stuck on you – this scene…forever etched into my mind. The tickles, the laughs and the “I love you’s” were endless.
Then I turned to you. Big tears welled in your eyes.
“Mom, are you ok? What’s wrong?”
“Beta (darling), I was never this way with you and your brother. Dad and I never…well, we never expressed our love with words as much. We never said I love you like you do with Jai. It makes me so sad. I never loved you like this. I am so, so sorry.”
Mom, do you remember? I froze. The words weren’t coming out; instead, I just hugged you in the tightest embrace I could and for as long as you, WE needed. I hope you felt in that hug what words could not begin to convey.
Mom, my childhood was not perfect. But my memories are the color yellow, of warmth, laughter and love. I know love because of you and dad. I am love because of you and dad. So to hear those words out of the most gracious, giving, loving human I know…Mom, it was hard. It was confusing.
We never talked about it. And just days later, the baby was here and that newborn life set in…we were suddenly very busy times two. We just moved on.
But did we? I didn’t forget. I have always wanted to let you know this. That despite what you did or didn’t say…in our home, I knew love. And that is because of what you did, what dad did.
I knew love because of your sacrifice for family. The way you compromised to always help others.
I knew love because of your friendships. You always told me that the quantity did not matter. That true friendship had no limit…that the distance did not matter. I saw you write letters to your best friend in Mumbai and I saw you open your doors to your best friend from London while they planted their feet in a new country. I saw you maintain those friendships through time and distance. I saw you give with no expectation. I saw your sincere friendship with everyone yet I saw you keep your inner circle of friends intimate, small and like family. I knew love because of the way people loved you back.
I knew love because of your open arms and doors to any and everyone who needed a cup of warm chai, a loan, a place to call home with no limit of over staying a welcome. I saw you open your doors to our family year after year and help them in every way to settle into a new country.
I knew love because of the way you treated all of my friends – no matter their race, their religion, their background.
I knew love because of how you loved yourself and made self-love and self-care so important. Watching you take the time to do your morning yoga, meditation, weekly facials…I knew how much you valued yourself.
I knew love because of the value you placed on what’s important. You showed me that love has nothing to do with money or possessions and everything to do with relationships, time together, music and nature.
I knew love because of the way you found the silver lining to any situation. You showed me that it’s always better to sincerely move on. To not focus on the past too much or let your mind wander and worry about the future. You showed me to be present and to love each moment.
I knew love through your forgiving heart. I continually watched you let go of the past, let go of the negativity and forgive. I’ve watched you shower all those around you with warmth and love, no matter the past.
I knew love because of how you lifted me up each time I felt like I just couldn’t go on. From feeling lost in college to failed relationships, losing babies. You were always the first to be there and the last to go. You carried me when I couldn’t. You knew when to tell me to try again. You told me it was ok if I didn’t want to. I knew love because of this.
It is through all these ways plus more that I knew your love for me. And it is because of the way you showed me love that I am able to radiate it out into the world.
I know love Mom, because you taught me.
You are love.
Yours always, Shraddha