This is a special tribute to an incredible woman who graced my life for a few years and left all too soon. Sometimes, even the briefest of influences impact our whole life. This is one such relationship. Over the past six years, I’ve written her several letters. It is just my way of coping with grief. Today I’d like to share a piece of this unique love with you all. Marie would have been 50 today, and I imagine the heavens might be lit up with 50 candles.

IMG_20180913_16505207 February, 2012.

Dear Marie,

Time slowed down the minute I walked into your hospital room yesterday. The contours of your frail body looked stark against the backdrop of clinically white sheets. But what followed me home was the vacant look in your eyes. It stilled my heart and I felt betrayed. But recognition slowly returned and you whispered, “Looking good”, like you always do when you see me. I have no recollection of my own response because somewhere in the long expanse of those few seconds, time had slowed down considerably.

Later, while feeding bland grains of rice into your reluctant mouth, I thought of all the meals we had cooked and eaten together. Do you remember how I couldn’t handle your spicy food, but gradually got addicted to it? Those flavours, your laughter, our shared dreams and thoughts, they have soaked into my skin.

You were my rock; and now it is I who awkwardly babbles words of encouragement to you. What do I know about your pain? All through it, you sat motionless; then with a sigh you said, “I’m tired”. That was the moment I knew you were giving up. It felt like the setting sun was taking everything with it and we were struggling to breathe.

As I write, I look at the darkness outside and try to understand the one within. Maybe you need to rest. Maybe I should be okay with it. But I forgot to say ‘I love you’, so will you hold on a little bit longer?


[Marie passed away on the 9th, before I had a chance to visit her again.]

IMG_20180913_16483927 September, 2015.

Dear Marie,

It seems like another lifetime when we were kissing each other’s flaws, blowing on burning wounds, our laughter spilling the chilled cocktails that you so enjoyed. Or was it just yesterday that we were confiding over kitchen counters, our words falling over each other, flavoring pots of your spiced curries. Time blurs and I lose myself in what was and what could have been. You continue to live in soulful poems, crop up in the lines of tuneful songs, smile from behind flaming orange suns. I step on the shards of my broken memories and the sting takes me back to you. They say closure is found in stillness, but when I try, the silence becomes your voice and it follows me wherever I go.

[Written two and a half years after her passing, on her 47th birthday.]



27 September, 2018.

Dearest Marie,

There is a silence around me as I write; a silence so dense that I can almost touch it. I hear a distant laugh that sounds just like yours, but it halts right outside the window. It’s been over six years and yet there’s an empty space that nothing seems to fill.

Mostly I try to focus on the good memories, but every little pain reminds me of you too.  I have my own little collection of aches and pains now; although they seem ridiculously miniscule to what you went through. I remind myself of how your myopathic heart brought forth your warrior spirit. ‘The best we can do is find spectacular ways of dealing with our tragedies’, you would say. I try to find solace in words; sometimes I curl up inside thoughts and fall into reveries. Most times though, I flow like a river, unimpeded onto my own course, following my covert goals, unconcerned with the world. You always pushed me to be the best version of myself and I think you might have started being proud of me now.

Last week, we stopped by at your resting place and arranged flowers in your memory. The greenery and peace there are so perfect. I recounted how much you had loved my surprise bouquet on one of your birthdays. Maybe I should have sent you flowers more often. Maybe I should have written you letters while you could still read them.  Maybe what they say is right, that regret is stronger than gratitude.

You would have been 50 today and the air would have been redolent with ginger tea, Davidoff, Peach Schnapps and fried chicken. As the evening folds into the night, I shall raise a glass to the sky and whisper, “Happy birthday, Marie”. Surely it’s a myth that people become stars, but darling, twinkle a little brighter if you are one.




The purpose of sharing these personal letters is just so they serve as a reminder of how we take people and love for granted. Good people are precious. Recognize and appreciate them. Celebrate life and smile a lot. Never say no to love because not everyone will value you and the ones who do will not stick around forever. So love with the wildest abandon while you can. Tomorrow might be too late.


42 thoughts on “50 CANDLES IN HEAVEN

  1. I am sure she hears you out dear Renu. And must be equally or maybe even more, loving you back. You never know in what form she would be doing just that. .. showering you with her love. Stay blessed ! And may she find peace !


  2. Dear Renu,

    It’s a gaping hole and a void to have lost someone so precious and dear…. sorry for your loss, but it seems that Marie continues to live on in your thoughts and a perfect place which cannot be filled with anyone or anything else and this place I’d like to call a Blessing…..she lives on with you like a blessing!! Your writing is cathartic at its best and thank you for sharing….Bless Marie for the awesome person I know her to have been, through your words.


    • Yes, Sonu. She was precious and I feel her presence every day. I’m blessed to have known and loved by her. And while we’re at it…I love you immensely, my little sis. You’re a warrior and a beautiful person too. ❤️


  3. Dear Renu its been a month and twenty days, i lost my dad, my priceless treasure, my rock…my hero.. my inspiration. Indeed a very active and helpful person till the very end. he left peacefully at a ripe old age of 85. His sudden death has shaken me. I had to hold back my tears cause i had too been strong for my mom. His passing away has left a deep void in me. Reading your lines I can imagine and feel the pain you must have gone through when a part of you leaves for eternal bliss. May the souls of Marie and my dad rest in peace. Amen


  4. Renica, I remember Marie always. We both went to Welcare Hospital to met her. Marie had a very charming smile, but her body was very fragile. Praise God we were able to pray with her. She is now in a much better place with no pain.


  5. Beautifully expressed Rens…we all have experienced this sorrow of losing our loved ones, reading through the letters made me tearful and a heaviness gripped my heart..but then it is true we find them around us in some blessings and live in our memories forever..


  6. First and foremost, RIP to Marie.
    Inspiring words.

    The End-Note! True words.
    A reality, rightly expressed in “Never say…forever!”.

    Awesome Quote.


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