Just the daughter

Dear Nanna,

It has almost been a full year since our painful farewell.

Fall is here in New England and as I walk through the trees and look up at the sunlight peeking through the now vibrant leaves, I think of you. I have silent conversations with you in my mind and you tell┬áme to ‘enjoy the nature’ as the wind softly sends leaves falling to my feet.

So much has happened in this time, Nanna. And so many times I have fought to overcome the pain that is in my heart. But I am still hiding from the world. Because I know I will have to do it alone.

I cling to your voice telling me to ‘Be Brave’. It is what keeps me going. It was what kept the smile on my face all these months when I had to face the world.

I smiled through helping Ammi stand on her feet, through breaking my engagement, through allowing myself to get married without you by my side.

Everyone saw me break down only once. It was when Ammi told me to take your blessings from your picture. I couldn’t do it Nanna. I couldn’t bring myself to smile through the reality that you would never exist outside a picture to me. I broke down.

Only when Ammi, her voice breaking and her eyes welling up with tears, told everyone that she had never seen me ‘break down like this’ did I realize how much I have always held myself in. I thought about why I did. And now I realize that I never had to express anything because you were always there to know my feelings from just the tone of my voice. Now I realize that with anyone else, speaking my mind would never help. Because there is no way to put how I feel into a language outside what you and me shared.

I knew we had a connection Nanna. I just didn’t realize how deep it was. We had our fights, our apologies, our battles and our compromises. But underneath all that it was just you and me. You had never loved anyone as much as you loved me. And from the pain that grips my throat almost every single moment, I know that you were my world.

In my mind, everyone just looks like they have their own family, Nanna. And without you, I am just a wanderer who got invited to be part of someone else’s family. After you were gone, I would watch conversations between Ammi and her family thinking of how I was an outsider. I found out the hard way that I would never find someone who would understand my thoughts. It would always be ‘ You are just the daughter. You should think of your mom.’ Or the other version which was ‘You should think of what your Dad went through.’ I stood tall through the ordeal and everyone’s tears. Through everyone’s teary calls. Through the decisions. Through the diagnoses and prognoses. Everything that was forgotten when everyone suddenly started worrying about their sister/brother. And labeled any expression of my pain as something that I should ‘get over’ because apparently ‘it’s not the same/ you are married/ you don’t understand’.

And today, I know I will always stand alone. Because I will always be ‘Just the Daughter’.