Hello everyone, I hope you are having a great weekend and a very happy Sunday to you all. We are having a beautiful weekend here in the Bay Area; very fall-like, pleasantly warm in the 70s in the daytime and in the chilly 50s at night. I’ve been appreciating our lovely weather in a more quiet pensive and contemplative mood this weekend, I couldn’t help it. I had just heard a few days earlier that my cousin Tara had passed away unexpectedly. She was 37 years young. As you can imagine, it came as a shock to all of us. Tara was the youngest of all our cousins, and I think everyone’s favorite. What happened you are probably wondering? To be so young and leave so soon? She was gardening in her backyard when it seems she fainted. When she came to she was able to dial 911 and call her mom-in-law. Her husband is a fireman at CalFire and was on a training session 2 hours away. By the time her husband, brother and father arrived at the hospital she had passed away. She died of pulmonary embolism. As I type this blog it seems unreal that Tara is gone.
Tara is the daughter of my Aunty Shashi who is my Mom’s youngest sister. Aunty Shashi lives in S. Carolina with her husband Roy Lee. My Mom and Aunty Shashi had a very special bond, so special that Shashi visited my Mom often in Texas and even after Mom moved to Louisiana Shashi continued to visit Mom sometimes with her little daughter Tara. Tara touched all our lives in wonderful ways, she had that effect on us that even after she moved away to live with her Dad in LA, everyone wanted to know how she was doing over the years as she grew from a little girl into a young woman.
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
What I remember most about Tara with great affection and admiration is this story that I would like to share. Tara came to visit me almost 20 years ago when my Mom passed away. Mom and Dad were on their way from Louisiana to spend the Christmas holidays with me in California and sadly Mom had a massive stroke on the flight over and was hospitalized the moment she landed. She passed away a week later. Our relatives from all corners of America and our friends came to attend my Mom’s service including my Aunty Shashi. Tara flew in from LA to attend the service as well. Even as a young teenager barely eighteen years old Tara back then controlled the room. I remember on the day of Mom’s memorial service when all the adults wanted to attend we wanted to leave our kids at home as they were only 3 and 4 years old. While we were debating which adult should stay back (even though everyone wanted to go and pay their respects) Tara took control of the situation and told us not to worry, that she would stay home and watch all the little kids. She spoke with such confidence that we agreed and left our children in her capable hands. To this day our family fondly talks of Tara as that young teenager who stepped up to help when we needed it the most.
Sometimes we think “What charity have I given to? What volunteer work have I done? What grand gesture can I make to be remembered by?” To this my answer is ask yourself “What have I done to make a difference?” It’s the little gestures we make at that right moment when others need it – that is what matters, that is our contribution, to give our hand in love and comfort when others need it the most. Tara epitomizes this for me.
Tara in Sanskrit means Star. Tara was a star when she walked among us and now she is a star among the stars.
“In Sanskrit, the name Tara means Star, but she was also called She Who Brings Forth Life, The Great Compassionate Mother, and The Embodiment of Wisdom, and the Great Protectress. Goddess Tara is probably the oldest goddess who is still worshipped extensively in modern times. Tara originated as a Hindu goddess, a Great Goddess — the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life.
There are many embodiments of Tara, but the best known are the White Tara and the Green Tara. The peaceful, compassionate White Tara gently protects and brings long life and peace. The more dynamic goddess, Green Tara is the “Mother Earth”, and a fierce goddess who overcomes obstacles, and saves us from physical and spiritual danger.
In the legends of Tibet where the worship of the Goddess Tara is still practiced in the Buddhist tradition, it is told that the goddess Tara first appeared rising from a lotus blossom in the lake that had formed from Buddha’s tears of compassion, tears that fell when he first beheld the scope of suffering in the world. Because of her essential goodness, she was granted the right to assume her human form as a man. But Tara elected instead to remain in her womanly form. The Goddess Tara Woved..
“Therefore may I, in a female body,
work for the welfare of all beings,
until such time as all humanity has found its fullness.”
I spoke to Tara a few months ago and we talked for one hour, despite having lost touch for a few years. She was so happy with her life. She talked about being happily married with two kids – a boy and a girl. She talked about her job, about how she loved it but it was a tough job, how she had saved money for years to buy her new home. She said she got in on a fire-sale, she told me it was a big home and now it needed furnishing and she didn’t think about that part of it. How she wanted a beautiful garden, she asked me for advice. She talked of visiting me with her kids. She was full of optimism. How does someone with such positive energy and with so much to look forward to pass away so suddenly? If there is one thing about her passing that brought a small ray of a smile to me is that her brother said she was gardening right before she was whisked to the hospital. When I heard that, all I could think is “Tara must have been planting a vegetable seedling, looking at a hummingbird or admiring a bloom. She must have been at peace. She was with Mother Nature when Mother Nature called for Tara to join her.”
I am so saddened to hear of Tara’s passing that somehow words don’t seem to be enough to express my feelings. Tara leaves behind a loving husband Ray, two children – a girl 6 years old and a boy 5 years old, her Mom, Dad and older brother. Our love and prayers go out to her dear family.
Tara’s Memorial Service was on Friday, September 21st at 11am. Here are a few pictures from the service.
My cousin Nando and I flew from San Jose to Fontana, California on the morning of Tara’s memorial service. We picked up Nando’s brother Pradeep who flew in from Austin the night before and was staying at the WigWam Motel on Historic Route 66. This was the craziest motel we had ever seen! A smiling and happy way to start off our morning just as our cousin Tara would have wanted it.
A beautiful service for our beautiful cousin Tara.
At Tara’s Memorial Service
A very emotional and tearful moment.
A celebratory toast to Tara who loved a good glass of wine and always made a toast with “I love you.”
Tara’s curry plant given by her Mom Shashi Aunty from a seedling aunt salavaged from my Mom’s curry plant after Mom passed away over 19 years ago!
Tara. She was a special soul.