Love! Breathe!

Our daughter Pritam (wrote on September 2), “My father Antion Vikram Singh Meredith, the love of my mother’s life for 49 years, died two months ago. There’s been record-setting rain the last few days where my mother lives (still winter there.) Auckland has been in lockdown for several weeks already with (hopefully only) two more to go. If not for her neighbor and friend Bryce, my mother would be totally physically isolated for this apparently endless period of time. Thanks to the pandemic we don’t need to imagine this prospect, most of us understand how brutal this can be for humans—if we haven’t experienced isolation for ourselves, we probably know by now of someone who has suffered, a friend or relative. Combined with grief it’s a pile on, especially when you are as social as my mother is.

But here’s the thing about my mother. She knows how to put the best most positive spin on a situation. She didn’t spend any of our birthday family phone call last night bemoaning this situation. She says she can get to the beach, even if she can’t meet up with anyone for walks. She says she’s been in touch with many many friends on Facebook and by phone and that she’s loving it. She decided to spend her NZ birthday (yesterday) and her US birthday (today) not conducting any of the also apparently endless business of wrapping up my father’s life (is that even possible to wrap up a life such as Antion’s?) and just to be kind to herself and do whatever she wants (she made herself date scones yesterday.) She’s my mother and she will put on her rose-colored glasses and she’ll get through this.

However. . . I remember after my husband Dan died, when it had all settled down after 4 or 5 months, when people had returned to their lives and the cards, calls, well-wishes were fairly minimal, my mom started calling me consistently. She would call from New Zealand and leave a message. Something along these lines:
“Hi Pritam . . . I’m just calling to say I love you. (pause) I love you Pritam. Love you! {pause} Love yooouuu.”

Sometimes I’d answer, sometimes I couldn’t, sometimes I didn’t. She just kept calling regularly and frequently and leaving messages saying over and over that she loved me. She knew there was nothing she or anyone could do to take away my pain, but she could pick up the phone and call. Such a simple thing was truly meaningful, and oh yes, it helped. Those voicemails, I will never forget, for as long as I live.

Maybe we, all of us who care for Elandra Kirsten Meredith, can reach out and give my mother a little love during her birthday and beyond, to help lift her through lockdown isolation, her grief, and the rest of New Zealand winter. I suppose as a daughter I am asking on my own behalf as well . . . I can hardly bear the thought of my mother sitting there on her own, day after day, for weeks on end, even if she’s making the very best of it. And I speak from experience when I say that knowing someone is thinking of you is a warm and good feeling, a tiny light in the middle of darker times. Even the smallest degree of reaching out helps.

Because sometimes that’s all we can do for those who are hurting. But it means everything. Love yooouuuu!!”

– Pritam Potts