Dr. Parul Dua Makkar, a General Dentist practicing and residing in Long Island, lost her brother, Dr. Manu Dua to oral cancer in March 2021. She is now publishing the writings of her brother in a book titled “Life Interrupted”.
She spoke to us about her brother’s life and his journey in writing a survival guide that he hoped would help other cancer patients in their ordeal.
DissDash: Tell us about your brother and his journey writing “Life Interrupted”.
Dr. Parul Dua Makkar: My brother was my only and younger sibling. He was a happy-go-lucky guy. He lived his life on his terms and to the fullest. He was a kind, talented, gifted, and eloquent speaker and writer. He accomplished a lot in his short life and was well regarded in the dental community. He started writing when he knew the cancer was metastatic and he had sold his practice and quit dentistry. When he started writing he felt it was his purpose to write and he thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is about the last stages of life. It was his insights into how he saw the world, as to who and what was important as he fought cancer. He had written it as a survival guide to anyone going through tough times in their lives.
DissDash: Why do you feel it’s so important to get the word out about these writings?
Dr. Makkar: This was his last wish and I want to honor him and his life. We had talked about publishing but he wanted to write more. Alas, time wasn’t on our side. These writings are his legacy. It is also a testament to our parents’ unconditional love, without whom we wouldn’t be who we are today. I promised him at his funeral that his fight may be over but not his journey. He will live through his words.
DissDash: Once “Life Interrupted” is out what are the next steps? Are there more pieces of writing that you can put together from his work?
Dr. Makkar: No, unfortunately not more. I did include some of his unfinished essays. I hope to spread his message in cancer and medical/dental communities. A way to bring hope, do some soul searching when life throws us curveballs. How to achieve inner peace like him. He wasn’t angry, or resentful. He had accepted his fate and made peace with it.
DissDash: How is the family coping with his loss and does this book somehow make you feel he is still there?
Dr. Makkar: We have our good days and bad days. He leaves behind an immense loss and void in our lives that can never be filled. We are trying to hold on to his memories but let him go.
A younger sibling walks parallel to your life. He is the witness to the life you once had. A person who you rely on and build memories with. My parents are left alone in their golden years. They are shells of who they were and nothing can change it.
I have learned that grief can be very isolating. No matter how much your spouse/ partner/friend tries to understand, your grief is yours alone. How you work through it is your choice too. Sometimes you don’t know until you go through it yourself. I certainly didn’t understand the magnitude of grief until my brother passed away. Now at times, I am alone in his loss. No parents or family or his friends to remember him with close by. So I muddle alone. And my parents alone in Canada.
I have learned to give myself the freedom to cry, to be alone, or not be. Grief comes in waves like a tsunami that takes my breath away. Sometimes it’s in silent tears. Sometimes as happy memories.
What I have learned also is to say no. It’s OK to not be there for others’ joys when you aren’t up to it. It’s ok to sit back and work through emotions. When you are ready…you will be there to celebrate others’ joys.
And I have learned to forgive…forgive others for not understanding. Forgive others because they aren’t touched by grief. Forgive others because their lives didn’t change and the world didn’t stop for them. And to forgive ourselves for this that happened wasn’t our fault.
“Life Interrupted” is instrumental in keeping his memory and message alive. He wrote it in the first person so it’s like he is still talking to us. His wisdom still guiding me and will continue to guide others.
DissDash: What is one message you would like the readers to take away from reading the book?
Dr. Makkar: Live life on your terms. Life is short and unpredictable. Be kind, stop keeping up with the Joneses. Make your heart happy. Do things and go places that bring you joy. Family is the most important thing. External factors are ever-changing. They don’t bring you happiness. Learn to be happy from within. Then come what may, you will learn to weather it all and get through it.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.