This I Know For Sure

Posted by Ashish Mehta on May 28, 2009
12793 reads  

November 8, 2001, was just another normal day. In fact, I was a little happier than usual since I had picked up my wife at the San Francisco airport and we had just arrived at a restaurant. It was just as our food arrived, my cell phone rang. The sobbing voice at the other end told me that my mother had just passed away in India. At first this seemed unreal, since I had just spoken to my mother a couple of days ago and she was perfectly fine. She had died due to a sudden heart failure.

The news sank in gradually and the pain of losing my mother was unbearable. She was an epitome of love and compassion for me. But the initial pain had masked a deeper sorrow. I had made a firm resolution to myself that I would provide for her, give her the loving care and attention that she would need in her old age even though it would be only a small fraction of what was showered upon me. Life seemed unfair all of a sudden. I didn't get a chance to pay back.

It was in that moment when I felt humbled and helpless that I had a realization- what can one do when one cannot pay back ? The answer to me was clear- one has a choice to pay it forward. I realized, what I could not do for my mother I could do for someone else's mother or father.

In that spirit I signed up to volunteer at the Pathways hospice as a care giver, providing companionship to terminally ill patients. In each patient I saw someone's mom or dad and I had the opportunity to serve them as my own parents. Many times, no words were exchanged; I would just hold my patients hand or gently stroke their foreheads. It was just as I would have served my mother. Ironically, it was in the giving that I had received freedom from my grief.

This event had a significant impact in that it allowed me to practice alchemy in my own life- transforming a painful experience into an empowering one. After this incident, I trust that challenging moments like these hold an opportunity for inner transformation. This I know for sure.


I am not much of a blogger but today while reminiscing the completion of my MBA, Nipun encouraged me share more about what I am working on right now and how I arrived here. The above experience was put down as an essay that I had written for the school application.  In the next blog I hope to go more into how this led to some other experiences and sparked some thoughts/ideas in the social entrepreneurship space, so please stay tuned.

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Comments (16)

  • Yoo-Mi wrote ...

    Ashish - so nice to hear this story.  I have a small inkling of what your mother's loss was for you - you have certainly honored her.  Congratulations on your graduation.  I can't wait to hear what you are up to next!

    Lots of love,


  • Guri wrote ...

    Hi Ashish,

    Thanks for sharing this. What will always stay with from the time when auntie passed away was that you were so open to talking, and listening, and trying to make sense of it all in the larger scheme of things. The circle we had in your Fremont apartment was powerful...for all of us. Thanks for your wisdom. 

    Looking forward to having you back in the area soon.


  • Shephali wrote ...

    Ashishbhai, that was a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing; your sentiments and actions serve as an inspiring example to all others who go through such hard times. Congratulations on graduating!!! :) Can't wait for your next installment.



  • Madhusudan wrote ...

    Dearest Ashish

    In your grief I could feel mine. thankyou for sharing this.


    Madhu :)

  • Trishna wrote ...


    You always bring such wisdom to life's most real experiences -- thanks for being such a source of strength and inspiration for all of us.  I can't believe your MBA is already over, how time flies!  Really looking forward to hearing more about what you are up to next and hopefully to seeing you all very soonn.  My love to Manal, Anha and Kehna :)



  • Shuba wrote ...


    The anecdote really touched me. Thank you for sharing. It was terrific seeing you in March, congrats on your graduation! Speaking of which, your stories about balancing school and family with a smile on your face, and the amazing calmness you exude while 25 different things are going on will probably make terrific learning posts for the rest of us :)
     Best wishes, and thanks again for sharing!

  • Richard wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing this story and its deep truth.

  • Mariette wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing.  And I can't wait to share your story with a friend as this completes a conversation we had no later than an hour ago.  Thank you!

  • Brinda wrote ...


    Thank you so much for sharing this story of how to turn loss into something constructive and powerful. Seeing your loved ones in the face of another is a very deep and moving experience.Thank you for sharing your wisdom and for being such an inspiring example. Congrats on your graduation too!
    Love and hugs,

  • Swara wrote ...

    Heartfelt thank you for sharing this.

  • Swara wrote ...

    Heartfelt thank you for sharing this.

  • Victoria wrote ...

    Your story touched my heart Ashish.....I'm reminded to take 'what is' and then look forward, rather than dwell on what was missed. You have inspired me.....thank you!

  • Vijayam wrote ...


  • Beverly Williams-Hawkins wrote ...

    Thank you for this very tender story. 💝

  • Juliette wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing. Such a beautiful choice and you must have brought such comfort to those people. Bless you.

  • Sagarika wrote ...

    Thank you Ashish for sharing this..its so touching..and empowering!!!