Today is the seventh year since my husband Amik passed away.
Over the years, I haven’t written about him too much for a few reasons. I had remarried and wanted to respect (and protect) my new relationship. But also, I really wasn’t ready to write about him yet.
I’ve told the story many times of what happened and at a high level how it affected me, but I’ve never gone much deeper than that. I’ve since heard the saying that it’s best to share only when our open wound has become a scar. I think that is the best explanation to describe my relative silence. While that chapter of my life might have ended, I was still healing the wounds.
Looking back, I understand now that while the acute grieving phase might have been relatively short post his death (I’ve explained in the past that because of his long illness, my grieving for him began before he took his last breath), my emotional journey and evolution out of that season of my life has been very much ongoing.
Sometimes we think that once the trauma of a life experience is over, we get to go back to “normal”. But it is only then that the real growth work begins. It wasn't until it was over that I began to process, understand and heal. And we don't do that in a bubble or a vacuum. The only way to move through is to live through. We can read a hundred books, but we truly only learn by living, relating and experiencing.
The last seven years for me have been an incredible period of evolution. Through all the years from the time Amik first got sick, almost fifteen years ago now, well-intentioned people have offered me words of wisdom. I know they only wanted to provide support and lessen my pain and suffering.
“God only gives you what you can handle”
“Things can always be worse”
“You are the strongest person I know”
But it wasn’t until a few years ago while having a tearful brunch with two of my dearest friends that I heard the words that really landed with me.
My friend said, “We are all here on a journey to discover who we really are.”
Somehow, those words rooted into my soul and gave me immense comfort. They allowed me to drop the resistance towards what I’d been through and towards things I was still going through and instead embrace my journey.
When I look at my life through the lens of self-discovery it feels so full of possibility, love, adventure and magic.
Yes, tragic things happen. That is a part of life’s journey. Why should we expect otherwise?
But we get to choose who we’re going to be on our journey. We get to choose how we’re going to show up, how we’re going to grow, who we’re going to become. Think of the freedom in that.
Amik suffered so much in the last eight years of his life. Yes, there were moments of joy, but his light was dimmed almost to the point of extinction. Watching him lose his spark is one of the most painful things I've experienced in my life. And it is why I am so invested in my own and helping others nurture theirs.
I believe that our inner spark never dies. It might get small, even barely visible, but it never completely goes out. I believe that there is always a way for that spark to become a powerful, roaring flame, as long as we hold even the tiniest belief in our heart that it is still there.
While I suffered alongside him, I was always aware that my inner spark was present. There were times I had to actively feed it so it didn’t go out. But I never, ever doubted it was there.
Through all the things we went through together, my inner voice whispered to me over and over, you're going to be ok. You are going to be ok. And sometimes that’s really all I needed to know.
As I write this I’m sitting on a cozy chair in the study of our new home. The sun is shining, the leaves are turning a golden yellow on the tree outside my giant window. I’m feeling grateful for my journey to this point. I’m grateful for who I’ve become and for who I’m becoming.
And I’m remembering Amik.
And as I am remembering him, I want you to remember this:
You matter. Your life matters. You are a genuine gift to this world. We need what you have to offer.
Embrace your journey. Embrace all of it - the hard things and the lovely things.
Don’t look away. Whether it’s beautiful or ugly, you can handle it. You were born to take on this journey.
Everything is transient. As good or bad as you feel right now in this moment, it will change. So don’t get too attached to your feelings today, one way or another.
Instead, remember who you are underneath it all. Underneath what happens to you and even underneath how you feel.
Remember that you are a light on this earth. That you can make people smile and feel good. And you can do that for yourself too.
Amik’s life journey taught me all this and more. And probably things that I haven’t learned yet.
But most importantly, Amik taught me that life is beautiful when lived with an open heart.
When I think of Amik now, I see him standing tall on top of the mountains he used to love to hike. I see him healthy, strong, beautiful, full of life. I see his essence. I see the truth.
And I see the same truth for all of us.
With so much love,
Kena Paranjape, Founder, All You Are