Personal

13 Things My Father Taught Me

Having divorced parents sucks. My mom and dad have been separated for years. My whole life my father has traveled back and forth from India (or wherever he’s lived) to wherever I am to see me. I’ve gotten to see him at least once or twice a year. We would always call and e-mail each other, ever since I can remember, and he always made an effort to be a part of my life. Now that I’m older, I’m able to travel by myself to see him. I’ve realized that he’s my favorite travel buddy and I’m getting closer to him now. These are some of the valuable lessons he’s taught me.

Tying a Tie and Fixing Cufflinks

He recently showed me how to tie a tie and fix cufflinks. He told me that one day, when I marry someone who’s worthy of being with me, he’d need help tying his tie. If I marry a man who never wears a tie when he wears a suit, I’ve married the wrong person. It’s important that I know how to fix my husband’s tie or bow tie. With practice, I’ve mastered this skill.

Music

My taste in music comes from him. He’s made me a complete Sinatra fanatic. He’s gotten me hooked to artists like Engelbert Humperdinck, Tony Bennett, and Elvis Presley… everything from swing and jazz to rock and roll. He’s taught me the history of music and made me addicted to the 60s and 70s. I love and appreciate old music because of him. I can name songs by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday because of him. Not a lot of girls of my age can do that.

Inviting Clients, or People Who Have Helped You, over for a Dinner

The way to someone’s heart is through a well-cooked meal. If you don’t have a place big enough to host, you should take your friends out to a good restaurant. It’s a way to show that you appreciate them. He’s always told me the importance of making connections and has taught me how to successfully mingle among a crowd. Every time my dad lands new clients, he invites them and their family over dinner. I find that people trust him more easily and it’s a nice gesture.

Consider Your Blessings

My father made sure that I know that there are people who are always worse off when I’m experiencing a low. There’s always someone with a bad situation, no matter what I’m going through, it’s important that I don’t make excuses. I should never complain.

Learn to Be Independent

My mother tells me this too. My father lives alone most of the time so he stresses it more. He says that you can have friends and surround yourself with however many people you want, but at the end of the day you must learn to take care and look out for yourself.

Travel the World Before You Get Married

My dad is always traveling. I think I get the travel bug from him. He says it’s important that I see the world and experience everything it has to offer before I settle down and start a family. I will do this.

Make Your Own mistakes and Learn from Them

No parent wants their child to make mistakes. Unless it’s life threatening, my father has supported me in whatever I want to do and whatever makes me happy. He says that when he listened to other people and it went haywire, he’d blame other people. He’d rather I make my own mistakes and not blame anyone else for them. This way it’ll be instilled in me not to make the same mistake again.

Always Dress to Impress

My dad dresses like Gatsby every day. He frequently wears a suit, and a tie with a matching handkerchief on business days. On casual days, he dresses like he’s coming out of a GQ catalog. He has a unique style and likes vibrant colors. If there’s something you should spend a lot of money on, it’s clothes. However, buy few outfits that you find valuable and of good quality, which you can mix and match. I’m a fashionista because of him. He’s always taught me that first impressions matter. People read off your style and what you’re wearing says a lot about how you are.

It’s Important to Enjoy the Little Things

He hates technology. He constantly nags me when I’m on the phone or texting 24/7. As an alternative, he takes me fishing, teaches me how to fix cars, or horseback riding. I learned how to horseback ride from him. He taught me how to swim and ride a bike. I love to fish because of him. He’s also taken me on hikes. It’s important to have hobbies that don’t involve a phone or computer. He recently taught me to change a tire.

Good Cars vs. Bad Cars

I know a lot about cars because of him. He believes that old antique cars are more valuable than any Camaro SS. One of his favorites is an old Aston Martin from the 60s. He’s taught me the meaning of horsepower, the importance of a low mileage, and how to change the oil in my tank.

Textiles 

My dad is an expert in textiles. From him, I’ve learned the difference between silk on cotton carpets and silk on silk—how to tell the difference between Kilims, wool carpets, and chain-stitch rugs. He’s an artist and designs them himself. He’s really good at interior design and furnishings. I get my artistic sense from him.

Be Cautious of Overthinking

If you have to overthink something, you probably shouldn’t do it. Whether it’s an answer on a test or saying yes to go with someone on a date, if you have to overthink an answer, you shouldn’t do it. Consider the consequences and always follow your gut. Always ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Time is Money

Don’t waste your time and money if you’re not going to get anything out of an experience or person, except when someone needs your help.

 

 My Father’s Passing

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I haven’t written a personal update in a while. It’s been about three months to be exact. Kashmir was one of the best summers I’ve ever had. Following that trip, I received an internship at a magazine in Dubai where I got the chance to be published internationally! Apart from that, I got to swim with Dolphins, visited the whole UAE, got to spend valuable time with family members, and devoured delicious food. I felt like a princess in my own right.

However, I want to apologize. I literally promised my readers that I would put up a weekly update about my trip and I failed to do so while in Dubai. I guess I got caught up in the hype, the family trips, and working. It happens.

My junior year of University in September started off with a bang. I’m on two e-boards as VP and VP for Communications for the TV station at my school and Society of Professional Journalists. I’ve been reporting a lot for the school’s rugby team and getting really involved around campus. I was the happiest ever for being so blessed and for that I’m grateful.

But on November 10 my life changed. I had just gotten out of my media class and my father’s best friend called to give me the worst news possible ever.

“Meral, I don’t know how to tell you this,” he said. “But your dad has been missing for three days.”

I immediately thought he was confused. I had just spoken to my father on his birthday on November 7th. I wished him a happy birthday and he joked with me about going to Puerto Rico in the winter. He told me that he would be leaving for Kashmir the next day. He was vacationing in Goa following the disasterous floods that had plagued the state shortly after I left. My father concluded my phone call by saying he would be going for a swim.

“No uncle,” I interrupted him. “He’s in Kashmir.”

“Meral, there’s no easy way to say this but I’ve gotten a call from police in Goa and you’re father’s belongings, phone, and wallet are with them. All his luggage was left in his hotel and Meral,” he took a pained breath, “they found a body in the water and…”

My heart had stopped. I was in the middle of my campus alone and saw a friend walking towards me. I walked towards him in fear of what my uncle was telling me.

“What are you saying?” I asked him. I immediately started to panic. My body felt numb and my head started to get dizzy. I grabbed onto my friend’s arm and he held me up seeing that I was in distress.

“I think you should come to India, Meral…”

My father’s friend explained that authorities had found a body in the water. It needed to be identified and his brother would go do it. I immediately started to cry and said ‘okay’. He asked if I was alone, where I was, if he could have my mother call him. I lied to him, crying, and said I’d be okay. I called my mother and told her what had happened, screaming over the phone. She started to cry too. I was praying desperately to wake up from the nightmare that was unfolding. I fell to the floor and cried into my friend’s arm, telling him what had just happened.

He said that it might not be his body. In my mind, I immediately thought the worst. I hadn’t spoken to my father since his birthday. The last I spoke to him he said that he was going for a swim on the beach. I knew he would never go anywhere without his wallet or phone. My stomach sank. I called my dad multiple times and every time his phone was shut off. I emailed him and texted him to call me back but there was no response. I called my best friend to take me home and within fifteen minutes I was with my mom and two of my friends at my house. I called my cousin, his elder brother, my aunt, I was desperate I didn’t know what to do. I needed to go to India. I couldn’t go alone, however, and my mom didn’t have a visa. I cried to my uncle and aunt who had already heard the news and came over to my house, as soon as possible.

All I could do was pray. I kept praying to wake up from the nightmare I was in. I prayed it was all a mistake and none of it was true.

It took me two hours to calm down. My closest friends immediately came over to support me and tried to help. They made me forget and distracted me for a few moments but I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I kept trying to text and call him.

Meanwhile, my cousin helped my mother apply for an emergency visa and ticket to India. Everything was happening so fast and felt unreal. My friends stayed with me through the day and night. All I could do was wait until my uncle in India traveled from Delhi to Goa to see if it was his body. It was agony.

Around 11 o’clock, I just had come back from having dinner at my Aunt’s house. I couldn’t be alone. My body felt motionless and all I wanted to do was hear my dad’s voice. I started to have trouble breathing and it quickly developed into a panic attack. I couldn’t stop crying and my mother called an ambulance. I need oxygen to help me breath and they took me to the ER to calm me down. I remember rolling in. I felt selfish for some reason. People were really sick around me but I couldn’t think straight. All I heard were nurses saying panic attack…this and that… they didn’t understand. The doctor saw me right away and prescribed me a sedative to calm me down.

My mother came into the room and told me everything was going to be okay. She said were going to Kashmir and my uncle was with my dad.

“Is he alive?” I looked up to ask her.

She shook her head to say no and I burst into tears. The nurses and doctors immediately understood and felt terrible. Why was this happening to me? To my family? My dad? Why?

I was discharged from the hospital around 2:00 a.m. My uncle and aunt took me and my mother to their house.

The next morning I woke up crying. My mother left early to go to the Indian Consulate for the Visa. I was alone in a big room and I wanted to see my father. I wanted him to say, “Meral, Meral, open the door. Dad is here,” like he did every morning when I was with him.

I forced myself down the stairs to eat breakfast, as my head felt heavy, and I knew I would collapse if I didn’t. All I did was think about him. I tried distracting myself by watching TV but nothing could help. Nothing would ever help in that situation. My aunt continued to hold me as I couldn’t stop crying. My friends all rushed over to their house soon after. They made me feel better. They made me laugh even though I didn’t want to and they distracted me from the pain. I just kept preparing myself for the journey ahead.

The next morning, I packed my clothes quickly. It was barely anything as I wanted to bring his stuff back with me. It was a 14-hour direct flight to India and within 24 hours I was in Kashmir on the 12th

I want to spare really personal details of the journey and my mourning. Some things should be kept private for now but I did need to vent and share. After a stressful three-week of sorting, protecting, and securing my father’s thing, meeting his closest friends and family, I can say I am at peace with my father’s death. I will never get over the fact that he died. I don’t think anyone can get over a loved one’s death but you can learn to live with it.

My father passed away on November 7th, his birthday. I had called him that morning and he was in good spirits. He unfortunately went swimming, like he usually did, during a high tide and was alone on the beach around 5:00 p.m. when a rip tide took him away from the shore. He struggled with it and lost. 24 hours later, in correlation with the moon, the same tide that took him brought him back. The shack boy in Goa said that he came back to the same spot ashore where he had last seen him. I am grateful that God brought him back to me and back home to Kashmir. I truly believe that it was his destiny. Everyone’s life on earth has a time limit. My father died doing something he loved, and in a place he adored.

I would do anything to see him again, but he’s been showing up in my dreams lately and I believe that he is okay. He is with me every minute now. I believe his soul is in me. He is protecting me and watching over me.

Over Thanksgiving, and on the way back to New York, I wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Regardless of everything that had happened this month, I’m thankful for so much. I heard, loved and found peace hearing stories about my father. So many people said he was “the essence of Kashmir.” I have a lot to live up to but I have no doubt he’s prepared me. Kashmir truly is empty with out him. It’s a small country and it seemed like everyone knew the guy with the Stetson. Everyone, I encountered had tears in their eyes when they spoke of him.

He would want people to celebrate his life, legacy, and memory. I will continue his legacy and make sure no one forget his memory.

He was my favorite travel buddy and would take me to exotic places often. He was also my best friend. I wrote about him often and my summers in Kashmir, as you read on my blog.

My father didn’t die a terrible death. He didn’t suffer from cancer or a terrible disease. He lived an incredible life on his own terms. He had traveled the world and died peacefully.

One of his friends told me that his journey has simply continued on a different plane. This is undeniably true.

My father’s spirit and character was one-of-a-kind. There’s simply no one else like him. I feel blessed and thankful to have had a father like him and to have developed an amazing friendship with him as well.

Everyday continue to enjoy food as much as my father did. Enjoy your company as much as he enjoyed the company of others. And celebrate the love, family, and memories you have and make everyday.

…I miss you dad and hope that you’re smiling down, and that I’m making you proud.

 


Sophomore Win

This year was awesome! I can’t believe I’m already halfway through college—It’s bittersweet. Compared to last year, my sophomore year achievements just grew off my accomplishments from my freshman year. I knew from the moment I started college I would seize every day and do something that would help my career, even if it meant doing something little, like following a journalist on Twitter. I owe my success so far to my mother. Without her, I don’t think I’d be where I am and as happy as I am today, if it wasn’t for her struggling and working hard to put me through school. I owe her so much. In high school, I had my devil-child moments, which any teenager can go through, but she stuck through and stood her ground. Because of that I’m so grounded and I’ve learned so much. I’m thankful for her setting boundaries and not cutting the rules. She was very reasonable to begin with and always has been; it just took me a while to figure it out. I’ve matured so much.ImageLast year, I was definitely still stuck in my high-school days. Though I did my own thing in college and still did a lot for my career, I couldn’t reach my full potential. A lot of my friends were younger than me so they still had a year left to graduate school. Others, who I had graduated with, stayed in my town and went to school locally so I found myself still going to high-school football games, visiting them at lunchtime, and going to high-school parties. This was stunting my growth and preventing me from finding myself. A lot of the people who I was friends with were still undecided about their goals and had different interests. I am now surrounding myself with people who push me forward and who I find intellectually stimulating. I’ve made the best group of friends in college. I think they’ll be the kind of friends that’ll show up at my wedding. Each one of them is so diverse and teaches me something everyday. I feel so blessed to have met them. I hope we stay close because I’m used to losing and making new friends a lot because of the numerous times I’ve moved. But I know everything happens for a reason and sometimes life can get in the way. For now, I’ve just learned to live in the moment.ImageCareer wise, I made a huge leap by interning for a semester for NBC Universal. I worked for The Maury Show and The Trisha Show and the experience was unforgettable. I owe my superiors a lot because I’ve learned so much and I feel like I have the confidence to advance further in my career without hesitation.

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I’m continuing to host my own radio show and I’ve worked a lot with Iona College Television. I was the entertainment host for a lot of episodes for “Inside Iona.”

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My first semester, I wrote articles for The Celebrity Café, which taught me a lot about writing. I’m continuing to publish my articles on online magazines and will continue to write on my blog. Hopefully next year, I’ll get another contributing-writer position. I truly enjoy writing and find it therapeutic, no matter what the subject matter. Going into this summer, there are a lot of changes that are taking place. I’m leaving my weekend job at a real-estate agency where I worked for two years. It was an incredible experience as well and I’m truly going to miss my co-workers and agents. I decided to leave because I want to concentrate on my journalism career and get more experience in that field. I will be leaving for Dubai in two weeks. It feels surreal because growing up I couldn’t visit and surround myself with family. My mom was working all the time to support us and we didn’t have that much time or money. Now that I’m older, I travel as much as I can and make up for lost time with close family. I will also be going to India and Kashmir to visit my dad, and will chronicle my journey every step of the way on my blog. I’ll be gone for three months, which is actually the longest I’ve been away from my mom. As far as boys go, I haven’t committed to a guy for a year and half. I’ve dated here and there and I’ve had fun, but at the end of the day I want to be committed to my career and school. I want to travel, make friends, and meet people, without worries. At least until I’m 26, after that I’ll probably think about settling down. I don’t have any regrets from my sophomore year.  Everything couldn’t have gone more perfect, and I feel truly blessed looking back on how everything’s turned out. I can’t wait to see what this summer has in store….

Until next time,

Meral

Ringing in 2014

2013 was definitely my year. As it comes to a close, I’m looking back on all the life changing and memorable events that have taken place. I finally got to meet people I was dying to see, travel to places that were on my bucket list, make a difference in the lives of others, and I was taught some unforgettable lessons. I hope that this is only the beginning of bigger and better things to come.

I realized my life was turning around when I forgot about some friends who were holding me back. Instead of paying attention to the negative things around me, I took charge of what I wanted to do, went forward, and didn’t let anyone stop me in my tracks.

I finally got to meet Tim Gunn, a fashion maven who I greatly look up to, and had the opportunity to interview some renowned fashion designers such as Mara Hoffman.

I traveled to Paris, Dubai, India and recently closed out my trips with a vacation to Hawaii. India was a much needed trip as I have family there I hadn’t seen in years.

I recently landed an internship at NBC, which I’m really looking forward to. Getting the internship was probably the cherry on top to an amazing year.

See for yourself…

Paris

Paris

Versailles

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Fashion Week

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Lucknow, India

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Unforgettable people

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Kashmir

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Howard Cross-I finally got wear a Superbowl ring

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Prepping for my first fashion show

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Developed a new hobby

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Made it to Disneyland

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“I get by with a little help from my friends…”

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Made a friend!

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Watched some old friends graduate

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A new meaning to “Hump Day”

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Dubai, UAE

dubai

Hawaiian Beauty

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Aloha, Hawaii

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Friends in high places…

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Surfed for the first time

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My awesome radio hosts

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Hey, that’s me!

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Got published!

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“Hey mom, I’m on TV”

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Met Olympic Gold Medalist Diane Dixon

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I even went to the 2013 VMA’s

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2014 is going to be a hard year to top…


My father’s passing

I haven’t written a personal update in a while. It’s been about three months to be exact. I’ve still been getting published, though. Kashmir this summer was on of the best summers I’ve ever had. Following that trip, I received an internship at a magazine in Dubai and I’ve been getting published internationally! I got to swim with Dolphins, visited the whole UAE, got to spend valuable time with family members, and devoured delicious food. I felt like a princess in my own right.

However, I want to apologize. I literally promised my readers that I would put up a weekly update about my trip and I failed to do so while in Dubai. I guess I got caught up in the hype, the family trips, and working. It happens.

My junior year of University started in September and started off with a bang. I’m on two e-boards as VP and VP for Communications for the TV station at my school and Society of Professional Journalists. I’ve been reporting a lot for the school’s rugby team and getting really involved around campus. I was the happiest ever for being so blessed and for that I’m grateful.

But on November 10 my life changed. I had just gotten out of my media class and my father’s best friend called to give me the worst news possible ever.

“Meral, I don’t know how to tell you this,” he said. “But your dad has been missing for three days.”

I immediately thought he was confused. I had just spoken to my father on his birthday on November 7th. I wished him a happy birthday and he had joked with me about going to Puerto Rico in the winter. He told me that he would be leaving for Kashmir the next day. He was vacationing in Goa following the disasterous floods that had plagued the state shortly after I left. My father concluded my phone call by saying he would be going for a swim.

“No uncle,” I interrupted him. “He’s in Kashmir.”

“Meral, there’s no easy way to say this but I’ve gotten a call from police in Goa and you’re father’s belongings, phone, and wallet are with them. All his luggage was left in his hotel and Meral,” he took a pained breath, “they found a body in the water and…”

My heart had stopped. I was in the middle of my campus alone and saw a friend walking towards me. I walked towards him in fear of what my uncle was telling me.

“What are you saying?” I asked him. I immediately started to panic. My body felt numb and my head started to get dizzy. I grabbed onto my friend’s arm and he held me up seeing that I was in distress.

“I think you should come to India, Meral…”

My father’s friend explained that authorities had found a body in the water. It needed to be identified and his brother would go do it. I immediately started to cry and said ‘okay’. He asked if I was alone, where I was, if he could have my mother call him. I lied to him, crying, and said I’d be okay. I called my mother and told her what happened, screaming over the phone. She started to cry to. I was praying desperately to wake up from the nightmare that was unfolding. I fell to the floor and cried into my friends arm telling him what had just happened.

He said that it might not be his body. In my mind, I immediately thought the worse. I hadn’t spoken to my father since his birthday. The last I spoke to him he said that he was going for a swim on the beach. I knew he never goes anywhere without his wallet or phone. My stomach sank. I called my dad multiple times and every time his phone was shut off. I emailed him and texted him to call me back but there was no response. I called my best friend to take me home and within fifteen minutes I was with my mom and two of my friends at my house. I called my cousin, his elder brother, my aunt, I was desperate I didn’t know what to do. I needed to go to India. I couldn’t go alone, however, and my mom didn’t have a visa. I cried to my uncle and aunt who had already heard the news and came over to my house, as soon as possible.

All I could do was pray. I kept praying to wake up from the nightmare I was in. I prayed it was all a mistake and none of it was true.

It took me two hours to calm down. My closest friends immediately came over to support me and tried to help. They made me forget and distracted me for a few moments but I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I kept trying to text and call him.

Meanwhile, my cousin helped my mother apply for an emergency visa and ticket to India. Everything was happening so fast and felt unreal. My friends stayed with me through the day and night. All I could do was wait until my uncle in India traveled from Delhi to Goa to see if it was his body. It was agony.

Around 11 o’clock, I just had come back from having dinner at my Aunt’s house. I couldn’t be alone. My body felt motionless and all I wanted to do was hear my dad’s voice. I started to have trouble breathing and it quickly developed into a panic attack. I couldn’t stop crying and my mother called an ambulance. I need oxygen to help me breath and they took me to the ER to calm me down. I remember rolling in. I felt selfish for some reason. People were really sick around me but I couldn’t think straight. All I heard were nurses saying panic attack…this and that… they didn’t understand. The doctor saw me right away and prescribed me a sedative to calm me down.

My mother came into the room and told me everything was going to be okay. She said were going to Kashmir and my uncle was with my dad.

“Is he alive?” I looked up to ask her.

She shook her head to say no and I burst into tears. The nurses and doctors immediately understand and felt terrible. Why was this happening to me? To my family? My dad? Why?

I was discharged from the hospital around 2:00 a.m. My uncle and aunt took me and my mother to their house.

The next morning I woke up crying. My mother left early to go to the Indian Consulate for the Visa. I was alone in a big room and I wanted to see my father. I wanted him to say, “Meral, Meral, open the door. Dad is here,” like he did every morning when I was with him.

I forced myself down the stairs to eat breakfast, as my head felt heavy, and I knew I would collapse if I didn’t. All I did was think about him. I tried distracting myself by watching TV but nothing could help. Nothing would ever help in that situation. My aunt continued to hold me as I couldn’t stop crying. My friends all rushed over to their house soon after. They made me feel better. They made me laugh even though I didn’t want to and they distracted me from the pain. I just kept preparing myself for the journey ahead.

The next morning, I packed my clothes quickly. It was barely anything as I wanted to bring his stuff back with me. It was a 14-hour direct flight to India and within 24 hours I was in Kashmir on the 12th

I want to spare really personal details of the journey and my mourning. Some things should be kept private for now but I did need to vent and share. After a stressful three-week of sorting, protecting, and securing my father’s thing, meeting his closest friends and family, I can say I am at peace with my father’s death. I will never get over the fact that he died. I don’t think anyone can get over a loved one’s death but you can learn to live with it.

My father passed away on November 7th, his birthday. I had called him the morning of and he was in good spirits. He unfortunately went swimming during a high tide and alone on the beach around 5:00 p.m., like he usually does. A rip tide had taken him away from the shore. He had struggled with it and lost. 24 hours later, in correlation with the moon, the same tide that took him brought him back. The shack boy in Goa said that he came back to the same spot ashore that he last saw him. I am grateful because God brought him back to me and back home to Kashmir. I truly believe that it was his destiny. Everyone’s life on earth has a time limit. My father died doing something he loved, and in a place he adored.

I would do anything to see him again, but he’s been showing up in my dreams lately and I believe that he is okay. He is with me every minute now. I believe his soul is in me. He is protecting me and watching over me.

Over Thanksgiving, and on the way back to New York, I wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Regardless of everything that had happened this month, I’m thankful for so much. I heard, loved and found peace hearing stories about my father. So many people said he was “the essence of Kashmir.” I have a lot to live up to but I have no doubt he’s prepared me. Kashmir truly is empty with out him. It’s a small country and it seemed like everyone knew the guy with the Stetson. Everyone, I encountered had tears in their eyes when they spoke of him.

He would want people to celebrate his life, legacy, and memory. I will continue his legacy and make sure no one forget his memory.

He was my favorite travel buddy and would take me to exotic places often. He was also my best friend. I wrote about him often and my summers in Kashmir, as you read on my blog.

My father didn’t die a terrible death. He didn’t suffer from cancer or a terrible disease. He lived an incredible life on his own terms. He had traveled the world and died peacefully.

One of his friends told me that his journey has simply continued on a different plane. This is undeniably true.

My father’s spirit and character was one-of-a-kind. There’s simply no one else like him. I feel blessed and thankful to have had a father like him and to have developed an amazing friendship with him as well.

Everyday continue to enjoy food as much as my father did. Enjoy your company as much as he enjoyed the company of others. And celebrate the love, family, and memories you have and make everyday.

…I miss you dad and hope that you’re smiling down, and that I’m making you proud.

 

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