Losing My Husband, My Greatest Teacher And Gift


Kena Paranjape

Two weeks ago, I lost my beloved Amik. Amik was also my husband, but I didn’t write “my beloved husband, Amik” because the word husband gives a title to what he was to me that doesn’t say nearly enough.

For the first few days after Amik left us, I threw myself into planning his “Life Celebration” (I avoid the “f” word, because why give a title to something that only makes you feel sadder?). Amik had been unwell for a long time, but whenever I looked at him, I only saw the sweet, full-of-life boy that I fell in love with. And what I wanted more than anything was for everyone to remember and feel that too, even if they barely knew him or had never met him.

So I put hours and hours into putting together a slideshow of his life and wrote a deeply personal message to Amik to be shared at his service (and below). I asked myself why I wanted to share my personal, private thoughts, and feelings. And I realized that even though I am sad and feel a void that I can’t imagine ever filling, I am grateful. My loss is so profoundly painful but you only experience deep loss when you’ve deeply loved. And I know I am so fortunate to have experienced the kind of love that changes you and shapes who you are for the better.

Like any teenage girl, I knew a cute boy when I saw one. Amik was cute and funny and athletic and smart. And like any teenage boy, he wanted nothing to do with me. Over time (and a little maturity) we became friends and I was surprised when my superficial teenage crush quickly turned to love. I remember distinctly the moment when I realized I loved him. We were saying goodbye to each other at a train station after our first year at McGill. I was heading somewhere by train and he was driving home to Toronto. We hugged, said goodbye, and I watched him walk across the parking lot towards his car. I sat down in the waiting room for 30 seconds. Then I sprinted across the parking lot, crying, to hug him. He pulled away to ask me why I was crying and I couldn’t speak because there were no words to describe what I felt.

Amik became my doorway to the world. I followed him to McGill where he had already made amazing lifelong friends most of whom are here today. He was a born athlete and although I certainly am not, he wasn’t fazed. He took my hand and encouraged me to hike, bike, run, play golf and tennis and lied and told me I was good and had a natural talent. (I personally think he just wanted me to keep wearing the tennis and golf outfits he bought for me.) He took me on “deception tours” that involved long winding hikes that seemed to never end. When I got tired and started complaining, he’d push me up the hill. He loved to make me laugh. When he hit on something that did, he would do his bit over and over until finally, I had to tell him gently that it really wasn’t funny anymore. But most of all, Amik always wanted to make me happy — whether that meant sitting in a women’s dressing room for too long while I tried on clothes, watching The Devil Wears Prada way too many times, or cheering me up after a long and stressful day.

When we graduated and he moved to Guelph, I started working in Toronto. On the weekends I would go visit him and try to distract him while he worked furiously at solving engineering problems in order to beat his class rival. His hard work led him to California where he fell in love. Amik LOVED California. It was his dream place. He mountain biked, road biked, ran, played ultimate, golfed, skied, and made the most wonderful, dear friends. He thrived at work and truly loved what he did. But the only thing missing for him was me. I remember the first few weeks after I moved there; I was on my own during the day while he went to work. By the end of the day, I had exhausted my exploring and puttering and was downright bored and grumpy. But then I would see him bounding around the corner of our apartment, looking in the window at me with the biggest smile on his face. He’d wrap me in a huge hug and start “project cheer-Kena-up." And it always worked.

Amik never, ever held back his love for me. He showed me almost every day through his words, his affection, and his support and encouragement of everything I dreamed of or wanted to do. During the periods when he wasn’t well enough to show it, I knew through his eyes that it was there and it was killing him not to be able to give it to me. Even though I lost Amik way too soon, I’ve already had more than a lifetime of love and memories with him.

For those of you who knew Amik well, I ask you to honor his life by keeping a little of him in your heart always. Remember his beautiful smile and warmth, his silliness and laughter, his passion for everything from the mundane to the exciting, his complete love of nature and for the finer things in life, and his willingness to loudly say “YES” to the fight of his life, more than once. And if you ever get lost, as he did too, just hang on tight for as long as you can until you find your way again. It is never too late.

Amik, I can’t believe you are gone. But there is no need to be sad or scared. It is all a part of the universe in motion and you are now free to enjoy all the beauty of it that you loved so much. You are a beautiful, undying spirit that has touched my life and my soul in the deepest ways. You’ve taught me what love means. You’ve taught me about acceptance, the value of the search for truth and that true love withstands all. I will love you and hold you in my heart forever. You beautiful life, spirit, and heart. You’ve been everything to me — my greatest teacher and my greatest gift.

A few days ago, after the Hindu prayers that happen thirteen days after someone has passed, I drove north to Muskoka, alone, to a place Amik and I had gone together many times. I was scared to go, but at the same time, I needed to. Just as I was approaching my destination, a strong, bright rainbow appeared right before me. Then, the next morning, while on a walk in the woods, I looked up and saw a fox watching me from about 15 feet away. He nodded at me and went on his way.

I asked Amik if he was trying to show me signs of his presence but I didn’t hear him answer. I will keep listening.

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