My darling, my dear son,
From the moment we came to know of your impending arrival, way back in March of 2012, your dad and I were cautiously excited. There were a lot of reasons for that feeling of caution. See we had to go through a lot of hardships to actually have your Zoey Akka ( Akka means big sister ) join our family. I spent four months on complete hospitalized bed rest to make sure your Akka was growing fine and wouldn’t arrive too early. We were blessed with her after three heartbreaking miscarriages and a ton of prayer and hope. So naturally, given this history, we were worried about your health as you grew inside of me. There was another important reason as well. We didn’t want to upset your Akka in case things didn’t work out the way we planned. (How naive we were ? We actually thought our plans mattered. ) See Zoey Akka was our only child back then, and she was absolutely our princess. So your dad and I decided to wait and see where we were headed, before we shared your good news with her.
I still remember that evening sometime in May when we finally told her. She was almost 5 years old by then. I remember her sitting on your Appa’s lap when we told her about her little playmate growing in my belly. At first she was surprised. She couldn’t understand and probably felt a bit threatened. But once your dad and I told her that she will always remain our number-one girl, our little princess, I immediately felt her warming up to the idea of you. Even then, for a 5-year-old who had been pampered with our complete, undivided attention and love, it must have been a little hard to comprehend.
As the days progressed I could feel her getting excited about you. She would ask me how you were growing inside. By her 5th birthday she had already picked a pet-name for you. You were named Candy-Cane because of her love of candies (I guess ). It was June already and her 5 year well-visit with her pediatrician went off perfectly. No red flags of the mayhem that would arrive soon. However I did notice she was becoming increasingly clingy and threw tantrums for no reason. Very unlike of her. Her pediatrician ruled it off as anxiety caused by the thought of sharing our love with you. We all know how wrong she was. But I don’t blame her, your Zoey Akka was like that. She tricked us all till the end. My baby girl, your brave Akka.
I remember clearly that horrible Labour day weekend, when we were informed of the terminal nature of her cancer. I was sitting next to her on that hospital bed and when her nurse asked her if she had picked any names for you, and she proudly replied ” Candy-Cane Karthik Ganesh” . Everyone burst out laughing after that announcement. It was only later she named you “Soccer-ball “. I guess it was because Candy-Cane reminded her of chocolates and sweets that she couldn’t consume too many of, after her diagnosis. And of course the name stuck because you were growing like a cute little ball inside of me.
The 12 weeks that followed her diagnosis were the most precious time of my life. It was the only time I had you and your Akka physically with me almost every minute of the day. You were still inside but I could feel your strong kicks and your frequent hiccups. You were very real to me by then. Your Akka was always with me. I made sure she got 100 percent of my time. She loved coming to my ultra-sound appointments since she could actually see you move inside. However the only time she wasn’t with me was during her radiation sessions. That was the only time I had to choose you over her. See pregnant women aren’t allowed inside the room containing radiation equipment etc, due to the risk of exposure to the unborn child. I wasn’t happy about this, but your Zoey Akka was just OK. She had her amazing Dada, her grandparents, and her Asha Patti accompany her everyday. I’d stay back home, keeping her favorite snack ready for when she returned. That was also the only time I got be alone with you. I’d talk to you and pray to you to be healthy and stay inside of me in-spite of all excitement outside. And you listened so obediently. You kept your Akka’s word and arrived exactly the day after after Halloween. I think you and Akka had been planning this all along. (Had you waited till your due date you wouldn’t have met your Akka ).
Zoey Akka was such an amazing big sister to you. She loved you so very much. These days, I find myself watching the videos of you two repeatedly. The video of her promise to you that when you grow up, you both would sing, dance and play all you want. The video of her claiming her love for you. I have memories of her running up the stairs with me (with that tumor growing in her brain), just to be able to change your poopy diaper. Oh yes by then she was also calling you “poopy-head”.
Yes your Zoey Akka was just one of a kind. But you , my darling, are no different. You knew where my priorities were back then, and you patiently waited for your turn while your dad and I were tending to your Akka’s needs. I didn’t have to worry about you as your Thatha, Patti, Ajja , Doma ( grandparents ), your Chikki and Chikaapa ( aunt and uncle) were all taking care of you.
After Zoey left on on that dreadful Sunday in November, I remember coming back home to you. It’s probably the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my entire life. While I wished my heart stopped beating and I just sank in a never-ending hole…. while I wished I didn’t have to wake up from sleep ever……you forced me to get my act together. You were right there, less than a month old, waiting to be held by your mom. You taught me how to love unconditionally all over again. After your Akka left, our house had this deafening silence, only to be pierced by your loud infant cries. And at that miserable time, all of Zoey’s surviving loved ones needed to hear that welcome sound. It was absolute music to our ears. I cannot thank you enough for choosing your dad and I to be your parents. And I cannot thank you enough for timely arrival into our family. Your Akka handed her tired and battered parents to you before she left. And you did an awesome job to insure they survived.
The reason I decided to pen all this is two-fold.
I don’t know if I’ll be around forever to keep talking to you about Akka. ( And I’m not sure if that’s the right thing for you anyway). I needed you to know of the bond you and Akka shared even if it was for extremely short period of time. That bond , that love will always remain priceless for me.
Also when I asked you the other day, about your best friend, you answered without an iota of doubt, it was your Hari. I was expecting some kid’s name from school….. nevertheless I was thrilled to hear that. You are all of four years old and you and Hari share such a special bond. I have to admit, for a moment, I felt cheated of the time you should have had with your Zoey Akka. Then I reminded myself……your Hari is actually Zoey’s Hari. He is here to be that playmate and partner-in-crime she once promised you. She did keep that promise ….. And for that I shall forever be grateful.
Lastly I need you and your little brother to know that your dad and I try our best to be that awesome parent you both deserve. While a huge part our heart is forever gone, you both have managed to carve your way in there. We find ourselves smiling, laughing and feeling joy all over again, seeing you both play and grow in front of our eyes. I don’t know what’s coming our way in the future. So I won’t mention the word hope, because it doesn’t exist for your dad and I ( especially after losing your sister). For me hope is the expectation that tomorrow will be better and that it will somehow bring the outcome you desire. However Faith is different. Faith is the acceptance that whatever is in store tomorrow will be just FINE….be it the favorable or unfavorable. So yes I have faith in us. I have faith in our love for each other. I have faith in you. I love you my darling son, to the moon and back as always.
Your loving Amma.
Zoey and her soccer-ball on the morning of his birth
Zoey and her soccer-ball a week before she passed away
Zoey, soccer ball and Zoey’s dada