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Tribute to my brother-in-law

You know that saying, “my brother from another mother,” I finally get it.

A couple weeks ago, my brother-in-law, Atul, passed away due to his illness leaving both sides of the families devastated. Although we were fighting against all the odds, we all had so much hope that Atul would make it given his positive attitude and great will power. He had the will to survive and had so many reasons to live for. I can’t emphasize enough how much we prayed, people who had never met Atul were praying for him, but nothing worked, absolutely NOTHING!

california 322_thumb[1] World’s Best Banana Cake – baked for Atul Nov 2011
For the past couple weeks I’ve been trying to unravel all these questions in my head, particularly, why this happened to him.  He was a young, happy, and healthy person so full of life with so much energy.  He had a rare illness that turned up just a few months ago, one with no cure and very little treatment.  We all prayed for a miracle, but not even the best specialists in the country could save him.  No one could have saved him, except maybe God himself.  It’s safe to say that my belief in God was shattered the day I lost my brother-in-law.  I am not sure why our prayers weren’t answered, perhaps this was all part of God’s grand plan, or perhaps Atul was way too good for us and he went on to do bigger and better things in his afterlife.To Die For Blueberry Muffins – baked for Atul Aug 2010
I have such fond memories of my brother-in-law, Atul who I had known for the last 14 years.  The very first time I met him, he made me laugh at my expense.  From then on I was sold because I knew if he could make a sarcastic person as myself laugh, he would most definitely be able to make a much nicer & sweeter version of myself, my older sister, laugh.  Every time my brother-in-law and sister visited us from California, I’d cancel all my plans to spend the next couple weekends with them.  Weeks before they would arrive, I would send them both an email with the subject titled, “Desserts.”  I’d ask them to suggest a few desserts for me to bake prior to their arrival and it was always Atul who would respond back asking me to make x, y, and z.  I loved baking for them and now in hindsight, I’m so glad I did.  At night when everyone in the family would go to sleep, my brother-in-law, sister, and I would stay up, talk, and enjoy a cup of tea along with my baked homemade goods.  He would then rave about how amazing my desserts tasted, while I would sit there and gloat as my sister rolled her eyes at me.  Those are the moments I will cherish forever.  [red%2520velvet%2520cake%2520114%255B3%255D.jpg]Southern Red Velvet Cake (his favorite) – baked for Atul Dec 2011
My brother-in-law, Atul, was such a fun and giving person.  He would burn Indian DVDs for my family in New Jersey, and then we would all fight over who borrows which movie.  He loved to dance and had the craziest dance moves.  Although I was completely wasted at my reception, I clearly remember him getting on the floor and spinning on his back.  He knew how to live life and embrace every moment.  He was a computer genius, and I believe someone at the funeral actually referred to him as the “human CNET.”  That was the only time I smiled on that somber day.  He knew everything about electronic gadgets, the pros and cons on every item, and he even helped me pick out my “hot pink” camera.  xmas 073Beatty’s Chocolate Cake… Best Chocolate Cake – baked for Atul Dec 2010
Yes, Atul had a lot of great qualities, but perhaps his most endearing quality was his ability to get people to open up.  He made me feel comfortable enough to share my darkest secrets with him, and in addition to great advice, he gave me the confidence to choose the road less traveled and reminded me that no matter what, I will be okay.  I’ll always remember his advice.  He left a mark on every single person who met him.  And the absolute best thing about him was his everlasting love for my sister.  Many people experience love in their lifetime, but “true love” happens only to a few lucky ones, and that’s what they had – True Love.  Their love was magic!  I idolized them as a couple.  As a family we all made fun of them because it was so hard to find credible that a “married” couple could always be that nice and giving with one another, but it wasn’t an act, it was all real.  This tragic ending could not have happened to two nicer people, but isn’t it is always the greatest love stories that have the most tragic endings?  I’d like to believe the love never fades, but rather lives on forever.california 285_thumb[1]Red Velvet Bundt Cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes in CA. (one of our favorite pickup desserts)
Mark Twain once said, “the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  Interestingly enough about a month ago, I sat down with my brother-in-law and had a talk with him at a more philosophical level.  With everything going on, I asked him what he thought his purpose in life was.  He responded, “maybe the purpose of my life is to make sure my wife and kids are taken care of and my parents are taken care of.  I know they will all be okay if I’m not around.”  In my head I was thinking, there has to be more, what about the most basic right every parent should have – watching your kids grow up?  Why wasn’t that an option for him?  Why do some people live such long and fulfilled lives whereas other lives are truncated?  He accomplished so much in such little time at both a personal and professional level, but unfortunately his life wasn’t long enough for us to see how far his excellence would have taken him.  That being said, I do believe wherever he is, he now fully understands what his purpose here on earth was.  california 187[3]Cointreau Walnut Brownies (devoured within hours) – baked for Atul Nov 2011

Life is too short.  I realize this now more than ever.  So many times we put our lives on hold for this or that or fear or the time isn’t right, but NO MORE!!!  Watching someone you love endure so much pain to merely survive has forever changed the way I perceive life.  Through all of his pain and suffering, he still managed to say things like, “thank you,” “please,” “I’m so blessed,” “I’ve lived a good life,” because that’s just the type of person he was.  Despite his rapidly deteriorating health, I will never forget how incredibly grateful he was towards the end of his life which left the rest of us feeling humbled.  It makes you think twice before complaining about petty things, such as, “rainy days” and “train delays.”
photo (3)Hummingbird Cake (full fat)… this was the last cake I ever baked for Atul (and he loved it) – Sept 2012 


Death is an inevitable part of life, a harsh reality that makes you question your own mortality.  It makes you question your own purpose in life.  Are you on the right path?  How could you live your life differently?  What would you do different if you were only given 5 more years to live?  I guarantee “most” of us would make immediate changes, but fear generally gets the best of us.  The sooner we can all realize that life can change in the blink of an eye, the sooner we can all learn to live in the moment, and live our life in a way it was intended to be lived, one with purpose and one with love.  For now, do things that make you happy, love, give back, figure out your purpose, and enjoy the journey because the show must go on, I know Atul would not have wanted it any other way.

Ocean City, NJ – despite all the places he traveled around the world, “A’s” favorite family vacation was the OC!

Dear Atul,
Wherever you are, I know you are in a much better place looking down at your wife and kids.  As the darkness begins to unfold at some point  I know it will be you leading the way for them into the light.  Although you are no longer physically with us, you will forever remain in our hearts and your spirit will always be felt.  Thank you for coming into our lives and enriching all of us.  You were an amazing person that showed us all how to live life to the fullest and give back to others.  Your list of accomplishments inspire me to settle for nothing less but the best, and I’m sure you influenced many others along the way.  You will always be remembered for your crazy dance moves and your contagious smile.  I’ll always think of you when I bite into an Animal Style Grilled Cheese In-n-Out Burger while sipping your favorite drink – Strawberry Milkshake.  If heaven is anything like I would imagine it to be, I’m sure you have access to plenty of In-n-Out burgers, amazing cupcakes, and delicious martinis!  You were God sent, taken away from us way before your time was up, our angel in heaven!  If I had to do it all over again, I would still pick you to be my brother-in-law, or rather, my brother from another mother!  

Honey & family!
Animal Style Grilled Cheese Burger from In-n-Out Burger (our favorite fast-food joint in CA)

Hi, I'm Nisha!

I'm a foodie who is passionate about healthy-ish living and mindful eating. You'll find a bit of everything here. I use mostly organic real ingredients and incorporate seasonal produce in my cooking. I believe food is medicine. Join me on this soul-searching journey as I share my love for good food, and I hope I inspire you to eat better somewhere along the way.

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  1. I randomly came across your blog while searching for something to help with my own grief. I just recently lost my brother in law, been in my life for 20 years and he too was gone before his time was up. It’s unimaginable to think one day they are with us and the next day all we have is a picture in a frame. It truly is heartbreaking in all of the sense and I understand your pain. That void is irreplaceable but overtime you get use to living with it. I lost my dad 6 years ago so I have been through this and it hurts like hell. Someone once told me the first four years without them are the worst and then you learn to relive the memories. When someone you love dies, your memories become treasures and those treasures no one can ever take from you. Cherish them and keep them alive. I still talk to my dad daily (not around ppl lol) but it helps me heal and I hope it helps you and your sister heal too. You’re blessed in every way and some things God does we aren’t meant to understand. We just have to keep our faith and keep moving forward with our loved ones in our hearts. I’ll pray for you and your family. Take care 🙂

  2. @Dixya – thank you so much. My brother-in-law was a wonderful person and so full of life. Yup, you're right, life is not fair, and bad things happen to good people more often than not. Hope you are right. 🙂 on Tribute to my brother-in-law, "A"

  3. I am so sorry for your loss Honey and from reading this post i could tell what a great person your brother in law was. From all the ups and downs I have seen in my life so far, I always feel like life is very unfair and unfortunate things happen to good people. They are always taken away, in loss or sick and i wish i knew why this was the case. I have no answer and I always tell myself that the maybe God has better plan for our loved ones and that I am sure A is in much better place watching over his kids, and wife and his family.

  4. @JC – thank you. He was a vibrant person, very full of life, sort of like you. 🙂 Yes, his legacy will continue to live forever, and in our hearts. Thanks!

  5. @Vrushali – thank you so much for your thoughtful words. Yes indeed, he was a wonderful husband and father, and it is rare to find people who are so loved by "everyone" in the family, especially when they are "in-laws." Thank you.

  6. Nisha — I am so so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and the family during this trying times. xo

  7. I'm so happy to see the outpouring of love for A and you. From the small amounts of time I've seen A he had such a vibrant beautiful spirit. His legacy and his amazing memories will continue to live forever. JC