The Hem in Hema

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Hi readers! I hope you are all well and keeping safe. Before I begin this next post, I would like to say that I have started a ‘Reviews’ section for The Hema Life. If you are interested, take a little peak.

We will be shaking things up this time to talk about my older brother. This is not something I intended to ever talk about, but it felt like the right time and I needed some catharsis, so here we are …

Hem is almost 23 years old, just shy of 2 years my senior. I say is, but the correct tense would be the past. Sadly, he passed away at only 6 weeks, long before I was even thought of by the world. He’s not someone that I talk about often or at all to be honest. No one has really ever asked. You might think, what could I possibly have to say about someone I never had the chance to meet? He still very much means a great deal to me and I need to talk about him.

He only graced our lives very shortly, yet he still made quite the impression. Nowadays, I find myself thinking about him quite a lot – a little unusual considering I didn’t know him, don’t you think? I wonder what he would have been like and the opportunities he missed. Would our lives be different if he was still here? Would I still be here? It is quite possible that I wouldn't be here.

I’ve always felt quite guilty that I never really felt a close affinity with him. I’ve wanted to, but it felt like I needed exclusive membership to join the club. I had to respect that this wasn’t necessarily something I could be a part of. Late last year, all this changed when I went to visit the place where he now rests.

I wasn’t aware that he was buried in a cemetery. It’s traditional for all Hindus to be cremated after they pass and I didn’t think it would be any different for babies and young children. I have driven past the very same cemetery many times never knowing that he rested there. It’s a hauntingly beautiful place, very quiet and very still. It was peaceful, yet the sadness was palpable.

He doesn’t have a headstone, so we had to search around for a little while before we could find the exact place. I laid some flowers next to him and we just stood there in silence. A lot of things hit me at once in that moment and I wasn’t able to stop the tears. As ever the toughie I aspire to be, I tried my luck and pretended it was the December cold, not the gravitas of the moment, that had moved me.

My dad talked for a while as we stood there. He had visited Hem the most, particularly when I was a child. I was hospitalised very often and very sick. They didn’t think I would make it either. We were facing some rough times, very little money and even less stability in our lives. My dad would visit Hem and just talk to him, hoping to find some comfort.

I told Hem that I was sorry that he wasn’t here, that he didn’t get the chance. I asked him why he couldn’t have been there, although I didn’t expect a response. Again, I felt guilty because I was here, and he was gone too soon. I had essentially replaced him, taken the things and the love that should have been his to claim. I even took his name. Survivor’s guilt at its finest, I guess.

In actuality, I know I haven’t done any of these things. I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time. I had access to the right support and I just fought it. I have been told I do a lot of that. Somehow, we all made it through in one piece. I’m lucky that I’m here, that I got to experience the things that Hem wasn’t destined to and I am grateful for that.

I didn’t speak to anyone about this experience. It felt private, something that I needed to keep to myself for a little while. In all honesty, I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about Hem so much recently. Maybe it was just time to talk?

I have said of every post that I have written so far that they have been difficult. However, I truly didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to write this. I’m glad I did though. Slightly depressing content for a Sunday afternoon, wouldn’t you agree? I promise to be a little more upbeat next time – I appreciate the support and stay tuned.

Keep reading and supporting!

Love, Hema.

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