Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making a Written Impact...Part 2...Background, Dreams, Pain

A Little Background

Amit and Deepika Tandon married on December 28 of 2007. They were best friends and loved each other deeply. Ask anyone who had the pleasure of meeting them...She loved him so much and he adored her...They laughed and smiled, the kindness they showed each other and everyone they met warmed the heart. Amit was magnetic and charismatic, Deepika, kind and warm. They were not just husband and wife; they were partners and best friends. Amit and Deepika came to know they would be parents in the spring of 2008...If only one could have taken a snapshot in that one moment...I can only imagine that Amit must have been just about ready to burst with joy...For the next number of months, Amit cared for Deepika...protecting her (overprotecting her), taking care of her, preparing for their lives as parents. He ultimately had only three goals he wanted to pursue in his life…to marry his best friend, his partner; to be a father; and to be successful enough in his business to be able to retire young, allowing him to raise his children, enjoy his marriage, and enjoy his “golden years.” At the beginning of 2008, it looked like all of his dreams were coming true.

Devastated Dreams

All of those dreams came crumbling down in a terrible rubble on August 6th of 2008, just a few short weeks from what would have been Amit’s 33rd birthday…and only a few short months away from becoming an American citizen.

On Monday, August 4th, Amit and Deepika found out that the child they were having was going to be a boy. On Wednesday, August 6th, Amit worked in the kitchen to prepare for the markets, never knowing the tragedy that would unfold, never even having the opportunity to talk about names for their baby boy. Imagine for a moment that you were in Deepika's place that night…waiting, worrying, wondering where her husband was, and then, the knock on the door, an officer with her husband’s wallet, and news, such terrible news. There are no words to express the devastation, horror, and trauma that one feels in that moment. Your heart is torn from your chest, you scream out, devastated, you pray to god that it is not happening, begging for it not to be true, to hope that it is all some terrible nightmare and that they are wrong, it was someone else, that Amit would come walking through the door at any moment…but he didn't, he won't, he never will.

The Pain

I can tell you how I felt when I heard the stomach went cold, my face hot, every nerve ending seemed to be on fire, disbelief, my heart raced, pounding in my ears and in my chest, praying that it was some body was tight, my throat was clenching, trying to hold back the tears...and then...then there was no stopping the tears. I remember driving to work that morning, stuck in Tucson working, 5 am, no one else was on the road at that windows were rolled down …I screamed.... I screamed like I have never screamed in my life, it was deep and from a place I did not even know existed. I think I probably cried every day for at least 6 months and it did not stop after 6 months, it just slowed…and the pain was and is always there, a never-ending ache. I want you to understand how I felt so you may consider this: My heartache and pain is only a tiny fraction of what Deepika and Amit’s family have experienced, do experience.

I met Amit’s parents during the short time they were here in the states after his death. We were sitting in the hallway at Enloe Hospital in Chico. Jevesh, Amit’s child, had been born less than 24 hours prior, and at that moment, he was fighting for his life in the ICU, awaiting a LifeFlight helicopter to take him to the Children’s Hospital in Stanford. I told Amit’s mother that I had known her son and he was a good man, he was my friend…she sobbed…telling me that when Amit died, she died….that she was not sitting there, she had died. I watched as Amit’s father could not endure the pain of the conversation and seeing his wife so devastated, reminding him of his own pain. He sobbed, turning away, unable to speak. I watched Amit’s niece, sobbing, going to her grandfather and hugging his leg, trying to comfort him, trying to comfort herself. We all cried. We cried for our loss. We cried for Jevesh, not knowing what would happen. The pain is sharp and acute even now. I remember it vividly and it hurts…two years may as well be two seconds, the pain is still real and so are the tears still shed.

Deepika's baby was born with situs inversus (his organs are backwards), he has no spleen, and five different heart defects...the next 6 months were spent at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital where Jevesh underwent multiple surgeries and procedures to both stabilize his conditions and address some of the heart defects... Imagine having to go through all of that without your husband/partner, without a support system, without someone to lean on, the way a husband is suppose to be there for his wife. Imagine having to suffer the pain and anxiety of watching your child go through surgeries, stuck in a hospital bed with tubes and IVs, not knowing if he will live or how long he may live, while at the same time, grieving for your husband, wanting and needing him there, the pain of his loss still incredibly fresh and raw. Deepika had no choice and though I could be there as a friend, no one can substitute for a husband and no one can replace Amit.

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