Prayers on Sherabling Hill
Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been 66 this year, but sadly he passed away in 2009, leaving my mother, my sister and me deeply distressed and heartbroken. My mother lost her partner, her favorite person, my sister and me our father and the world a human being that touched everyone he met and made a big difference in his own way.
Words are hard to find to describe grief, but whomever has lost someone dear will understand.. it never goes away, you just learn to live with the pain. Then when someone close to you finds words that touch your heart, you are grateful – grateful that you are not alone, grateful that you can see something positive in the middle of your own grieving process and grateful to have just one moment where you do not feel the weight on your soul.
After a while, very slowly you start breathing again, and little by little you start letting yourself live again.
Then my grand-mother passed away, then my grand-father. A little over two years ago our mother passed away and a few months ago a dear family friend. It never seemed to stop – grief just became a part of me. Life will never be the same, many of my most cherished loved ones are gone. I can not even describe how lonely it feels every day.
But grief became an integral part of how I see the world now and how I have decided to live my life. I am still here and I am more than lucky. And for what it’s worth, I needed to hit rock bottom to be able to see – see what’s important and hear my own inner voice, that I so callously ignored over many years. So I try to keep on being courageous and get up every day to enjoy the life that I have been gifted so generously. And I will go after my dreams and try not to be shackled by “what I think others think I should do”.
In that spirit I want to share a touching article with you that my cousin Steffi wrote while she was traveling India after my father passed away. She found the right words at the right time and they comforted me a lot at the time. Thank you for always putting a smile on my face when I read your words (and also when we meet so rarely – you are a star!).
The original article can be found here.
“Prayers on Sherabling Hill” by Stephanie Savage
“For about a month I’ve been living in the small Tibetan Colony of Bir in the northern Indian state of Himachel Pradesh. There’s a monastery on the outskirts of the village nestled in a forest of tall pine trees. On a hill above Sherabling Monastery, hundreds of prayer flags strung from tree to tree make a patchwork of red, yellow, green, blue, and white mantras. Some are bright and new, while others show wear from many years of wind slowing shredding the flags thread-by-thread as the prayers are carried away on the winds.
Last Saturday, I walked the 7 km to Sherabling Monastery through the forest buzzing loudly with thousands of chirping cicadas to leave some prayers of my own on that hillside. I had in my pocket a picture of my uncle Mo whose ancestors originated from India. I wanted to leave a string of prayer flags here for Moni Mo, so the wind on the hill could disperse mine and my whole family’s loving memories for years to come.
When I planned my trip to India last year, my cousin, Myriam, told me, “My father would have loved to share tips and stories with you for your travels to India. He will be with you there.” I knew this was true, and much of what I had learned throughout my life about Indian culture was from Moni Mo and his family. Nanima and Dada (his parents that we called by the Indian form of Grandma and Grandpa) lived close to us in Canada, and so they were like grandparents to me and my sisters. It was in Nanima’s rich masala-scented kitchen where I fell in love with samosas (still the best I’ve tasted), and where, as a five year old, I rejoiced at being able to eat with my hands. It’s been many years since then, but I’m eating with my hands again . . . and it’s still just as satisfying! The mysterious and foreign artifacts in Nanima’s living room were fascinating to me and my sisters whenever we visited, and Nanima’s old saris became our colorful dress-up clothes.
With the snow-covered Dhauladhar mountains as a backdrop, I hung the prayer flags next to Moni Mo’s picture and meditated on my memories of his big heart and slap-stick humor. I sat cross-legged watching the colors dance, surrounded by the sound of cooing pigeons and the scent of pine needles baking in the sun. Moni Mo’s flags are now a part of the many others’ who have come here to share their prayers with the North Indian wind on Sherabling Hill.”