Someone who I respect and admire asked me about my family and parents as a way to understand more about how I'm getting through losing Naya. It was a surprising question, but one that made me start connecting many dots about my life. Life isn't so random after all. The quick facts about my upbringing. I'm 100% Indian, born here in the U.S., raised in Ohio. When I grew up it wasn't cool to be Indian. Nothing like today, where being different is now cool and embraced. I was different, and so were my parents. They were privileged in India, but came here to start a new life. They worked hard. My dad earned his PH.D. while working as a janitor, professor's assistant and other odd jobs at Michigan State. Mom babysat to make ends meet and learned English through osmosis. They ended up divorcing when I was a teenager which, at the time, was socially unacceptable in Indian culture. They struggled to find happiness for a while, but ended up happy and at peace with two children + four grandchildren to love. Their desire to be happy, love for family, honesty, generosity, and fortitude guided them throughout their lives and paid off.
They taught me a lot. Work hard, be honest, be kind, love people, live life to its fullest and look forward. For many years, it was my dad who raised me with those values. As I got older, I realized my mom had the same values, and in some ways they were stronger in her than my dad. I married Hank, another very determined, talented person with a positive outlook on life and many of the same values I grew up with. Both of our parents persevered through many life challenges. While not the same as losing a daughter, they had their own difficult hurdles to overcome.
When I reflect on my family and Hank's, they always moved forward in spite of obstacles. They lived life as full as they could. My dad used to say "life goes on" when something that he didn't like happened. Simple words, but true. The key for me is how to be now that life has gone on without Naya present. As I type, I realize life is going on with Naya. She's always present with me and always will be next to me.