The first time she was diagnosed

Mills had a life-threatening illness when she was just two, but she survived it. The reactions, pain and perspectives I had the first time round were far removed from the second experience. Knowing this I understand that pain and grief are as individual as we are. I would not presume to tell you how to feel and all I sincerely hope is that you find some comfort and support knowing you are not alone.

What I can now say with certainty, is that one learns to live around the pain. The first time I went food shopping without Mills in my life, I felt extreme anxiety. I saw her everywhere down the aisles and yet nowhere. Where was the girl who could make something as mundane as food shopping fun? The car became the place I would literally run to and it was here that I would let out my cries of pain and then they would pass and I would carry about my day.

Life is different now that Mills is no longer with us in body, but it is still beautiful. We are each born with a wondrous super-power that allows us to shift from sad to happy within moments without any force; it’s just this capacity we have.

I was at a pre-wedding party last night. There was an awareness of missing Milli. How she would have loved dancing, singing and being around family and friends from all generations and let’s not forget the chocolate cake. That said, I felt a deep sense of bliss watching people experiencing such utter joy and knowing that Mills could look on at anytime.

Mills was just fifteen months when she went into hospital with a kidney problem. She smiled her way through needles, the endless drips, the large pink tables that changed her mood and her body into that of a small sumo wrestler. When she finally went into remission, we were overjoyed.

Life had never looked better. We were moving from our gorgeous little flat in Westbourne Grove, to a grand Victorian house, our careers were flying, our giggling girl was well and we had a baby on the way. We moved and I decorated the house with love and care. Mills and I set aside a little time each day to work on creative projects. I remember sitting by an oversized mirror, both randomly gluing on tiny white paper flowers onto the frame, whilst chatting away. Mills was healthy, I was big, beautiful and felt empowered. I noticed Mills becoming a little unsteady on her feet and constantly wanted to be carried around. I was concerned enough to mention this to my doctor, who assured me she was simply regressing and feeling jealous of the baby. A mothers instinct told me that was not like Mills and I kept returning until after the fourth visit, he agreed to book her in for neurological tests.

Our beautiful boy was born on 17th October. Fortunately Bittu just made the birth having rushed back from Mills test appointment. The tests showed nothing, so we insisted on a scan, which followed on 24th October. Holding my baby, I exhailed as I closed the door to visitors and then the phone rang. Bittu told me I needed to get to St. Marys, from where we would take Milli to Great Ormond Street in preparation for her operation the following day. She had a brain tumour. I shook as I dressed my baby in clothes all too big for his tiny new body. I called a friend to pick me up for hospital and as I repeated the words, I went into a sort of daze and something in me became afraid to get close to my son. If I loved him the pain of having to be apart from him this soon would be all too much to bare. Seeing Mils at hospital, beaming as she always did, broke my heart. Our picture perfect life was about to be shattered.

Shifting Sands

It’s been four months since my darling Milli left home; this home, we all share. I can’t say she died because, I don’t see it like that. I have decided to write this blog because perhaps in seeing why I feel the way I do, it may cause a shift in prespective and in doing so, give more joy and less pain. From a totally selfish point of view, I like having a place that allows me to share stories of my girl, because whilst I can’t talk about how she is doing in school, her friendships, planned birthdays and holidays, first boyfriends…..I can indulge in all the lifetimes worth of lessons and beautiful memories she has left behind.

I don’t know anything for certain, but what I FEEL deeply, as a result of Mills life is this:

  • We are all born with a pre-determined number of breaths. We come here to laugh, learn, love and grow and then we move on. Before heading off, do as the cheesy card says and as my daughter naturally did. ”Dance as if no one is watching, sing as if no one is listening and live each day as if it were your last”.
  • When those we love, leave us physically, they reside within us, in our every action. Accessing the powerful goodness within us is a precious gift and every interaction we have ever had provides us with that gift/that learning.
  • At my daughters send-off (sorry, don’t like the word funeral either), I opened with the line ‘when I grow up, I want to be Milli Kaushal’. She had just turned 11, but lived a rich and full life, in which she did more than one could hope for in a much longer span. She was always true to herself and never afraid to show her duality. Mills loved pink, princess and fairies, even when her peers thought it was not cool. In fact, Mills was a life of total passion, love, strength and when necessary, one of beautiful surrender.

Mills life has lead me to the realisation that I was never as brave as my beloved and have spent much time doing what seemed, rather than felt right. There is still a deep longing to hold Mills, to hear her sing, giggle and share her musings on life. Yes, I do miss her but I will not let that deter me from living and as honestly as she did. I do feel vulnerable sharing this journey, as who knows where it might end and indeed how being so exposed will play out. My home, friendships, vocation and all that has seemingly provided a foundation, is on shifting sand but it’s fine and it is a path I can no longer ignore.

Oh, one thing I do know is, I am not good at writing short bullet points!

I will write again very soon but in the meantime, here is a picture of my lovely girl and I in Namibia, on shifting sand! But look, hand in hand we felt safe and I still do, as her love carries me.

Thames & Hudson Family Life Style Travel – Anita Kaushal. Photo Penny Wincer