In November of 2009, I realized my grandfather was dying.
I had woken up early one morning from a terrible dream. I was sweating and panting, completely shaken from the nightmare I had witnessed. I don’t remember what my dream was about, but I do remember I came upon the devastating realization. Without any uncertainty in my mind, I knew – I knew my grandfather wasn’t going to overcome his illness.
And so started my advent, my season of waiting and preparation.
I used to light candles and watch them flicker while whispered prayers up to the heaven.
‘May his suffering be short. May his suffering be short. Maybe his suffering be short.”
But as the flame persisted on till the candle had nothing more to give.
News about his suffering became too painful to hear. I longed for his body and soul enter peace. I longed for everyone’s anguish to come to an end. I longed for the prolonged night to come to an end.
In those long and grueling months, I revisited many cherished memories that had been tucked away for years.
I remembered the yellow and red dollhouse my grandfather had once made me. It had taken him two weeks to assemble and paint it. He watched and smiled as my seven-year-old self squealed in excitement and stuffed all my toys into their new home.
I remembered how he requested that for each poem I write, I would make a special copy just for him. He used to brag to all his family and friends about me. “She’s such a good writer! Watch out, she’s going to become something big.” I used to smile every time he raved about my amateur writing. He was the only other writer in my family.
I remembered the last time I saw him. He took a sip from his tall glass of beer, finished his smoke, and said to me, “I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s time for me to go home soon.” I didn’t realize much later that he wasn’t talking about his home in India.
I remembered the last conversation we had. “I’m proud of you.” I remember my tears ran so freely, I couldn’t reply to those last words he spoke to me.
After seven months after that chilly November morning, his suffering had ceased and his last breath faded away.
I remember letting out a sigh of relief. There awaited deep pain and sorrow for me, but my beloved grandfather, the one I loved like my own father, was now able to fully enter peace.
The Christmas following his death, I lit a candle again. As I watched the candle flicker the light, I gave thanks for the mystically holy season of advent. My advent was one aching for freedom, for redemption, and for hope for my grandfather.
But the most wonderful thing about advent is that at the end of the season, peace awaits to shower the faithful pilgrims, to proclaim, “You have done well, now rest and have no fear.”
Rest well, my dear grandfather. Our advent has now come to an end.