I didn’t kiss him goodbye…
Not when he was alive and leaving home. Not when I was leaving the ambulance. Not when they were taking him to the funeral pyre.
I’ve said before that my one regret would be not leaving my work to say a proper goodbye to him. To get up and hug him and to say I love him forever. I didn’t do all that and I’ve told people that. What I haven’t talked about is what happened in the ambulance.
When I saw him at the morgue the shock was too much to think of anything, and they didn’t even give us a minute to see him. All I could manage was to see him and touch him and I was too distraught for anything else.
Then we were leaving and I went with him in the ambulance. They’d wrapped him up in blue plastic with a white cloth covering it. He was frozen and smelled of formaldehyde. His face, though peaceful was starting to swell up near the eyes. I sat watching him for the 4 hours it took us to get him home and then it was time to leave the ambulance so people could get him out. I asked his brother to give us a moment, this would be the last time I’d be alone with him. I wanted to kiss his lips and say farewell, I even mulled putting on the lipstick he liked, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. This wasn’t how I wanted to remember him. I didn’t want the smell of death to fill my memories. And maybe it was horrible that I didn’t kiss him. I don’t know! I just got a few seconds alone and I didn’t know what to do. How do you say goodbye? How do you take a moment with the world standing around waiting and watching. There are no personal moments in India – everything is a collective – and I was holding up things. And I didn’t want anyone to see. So I gave a quick peck on his cold forehead and covered him back up with the sheet before stepping out.
Once out in the open there was no possibility of that kiss even if I wanted to do it now. A kiss is an intimate thing here, we’d never kissed in front of our parents, and I could not do it now with his entire family watching. And once out, my one thought of support was gone too – my mom, instead of comforting me was wailing away. I think that was the last straw that washed away all feeling and I was just numb. And I was still numb when I saw him being carried away. I had thoughts running in my head that I should run behind him, I should stop people from taking him, but my body wasn’t doing anything. My eyes had even stopped shedding tears.
I had that chance in the ambulance and I missed it. I don’t know if it would have been the right or wrong thing to do. I don’t know if it would have helped me now in any way. I just know I didn’t do it, and I’ve never told anyone that. I think he’d have liked a goodbye kiss, and sometimes I feel terrible for not having given him that.
Another thing that tells you that we don’t get second chances and we must seize the moment when we have it. I wouldn’t wish a goodbye on anyone, but you never know when it comes. It doesn’t mean you’ll be ready, because no one is ever ready for something like this. All it would have meant for me was perhaps I wouldn’t have beaten myself up over it so much.
I don’t know… nothing makes sense to me anymore.