I recognize the feeling when all of us are in the same room. It feels a little different now, but the air exudes familiarity and a quiet comfort. My sister came to visit this past week and the room filled up with laughter, giddiness, and traces of childhood goodness. We did ordinary activities like shopping at the local mall, ate donuts for breakfast, and harassed each other over our imperfections. There was plenty of laughter, emanating from my daughter, because her love for her aunt is so pure and wholly unconditional. As soon as my sister landed at the airport, my daughter followed her, not wanting to be without her for a single moment. They played tent together, huddled underneath the blankets and watched a movie, and practiced hula-hooping in the middle of our living room.
The days of her visit felt short. And edged with a little melancholy. I remember feeling that cut of sadness when my sister, my mom and I sat around the dining table. We did not say it aloud, but we know it. Dad is missing. And when the three of us are together, I sense that we all miss him more. Because we always had dinner as a family, the dining table becomes a source of discontent. The old, worn, tea stained dining table in my childhood home speaks of political debates, arguments, fruit cake, Indian sweets of gulab jamun and halwa, and my father sitting, predictably, at the head of the table. Over two years later and for reasons I cannot completely articulate, the grief announces itself, yelling, I am eating with you again.
That, I think, is the worst part of losing someone you love.
Even immersed in the laughter and surrounded by comfort, you still feel the lines of sadness.