I have been postponing this post for months.
How do you write about something that is locked up somewhere inside your heart because it hurts too much to open it up?
How do I write about something which makes me feel that it would not change anything… It would not bring her back… except it might warm up my cold heart a little. And isn’t that a good enough reason?
SubhanAllah there are some dear people in the world who belittle any such effort. Perhaps they are really not people of the heart… Ya Allah, Grant me company of the ulul albaab… The people of understanding; people of pure, sound minds and intellects… Make me a possessor of lubb… Ameen… And praise be to You who Grants purity of minds and hearts.
So here goes…
Losing our mother was like losing a part of my heart. It was like losing part of my store of memories in my mind – my childhood… Did I really want to hold on to them? What good will it do? I felt like part of my life meant nothing to me now. There was no use dwelling in those peaceful, innocent childhood memories that knew no sorrow and no fear. Because I had experienced the truth of this world.
I had experienced that life can be shook. Our lives as we know it can change. Nothing we have is permanent. Each thing that we take for granted is actually being given to us, as a gift… And we have no control over it.
This experience made me feel like it was futile to think about my past and savor it. I didn’t want to savor it. What was it except moments that had passed and were no more? What good would it do to dwell on the breaths of life already taken, when there were more to be taken that would become a means of me going to the real true moments of felicity. I did not want to dwell on those moments of joy that had evaporated into thin air.
That is how I felt. And how I have mostly felt throughout the past 7 plus years.
It made me look beyond the realm of imperfections to the realm of the Perfect.
It made me yearn for an abode that would be void of pain and suffering, with a yearning I never felt before.
But here is what I was not ready for…
In the erasing of those memories, somewhat, what I did was, I was only preparing myself for a life that would come inevitably, but indefinitely. I was *not* prepared for the present, or the near future – for the years that were meant to take me to that inevitable eternal future.
We cannot blot out memories – whether good or bad – without suffering a negative effect.
The human brain is an incredible thing. One of the Signs of the Almighty about which we have very little knowledge about. One of the things about us that baffles us and makes us wonder, how in the world can anyone think this brain *just* evolved. Sure it may have evolved, but not without plan. What a beautiful created plan. And the heart even more so- the intangible human heart. The feelings of love, hate, jealousy, forgiveness, mercy, sweetness, empathy, anger, courage – these emotions within us manifest and bear witness to the Beauty and Majesty of the One who Created us.
And so as I raised my young kids, I went back to those memories, painfully but surely.
When my mother passed away, Allah swt had prepared us for a good 2 and half years. She had not been well. My youngest brother, who was only 11 at that time, said he had prayed to Allah to take away her pain. Allah SWT Had listened to his dua, he said.
A lot can be written about my mother. Where can one begin? Her smell, her hug, her excitement – some of the things that jump to my heart when I think about her – and her smile which everyone who knew her seems to remember and cherish… Her perfectly straight nose mashaAllah, thin and prettily long, which none of us siblings inherited…
People who knew her far less than us cherish just knowing her… Then how much would we remember and cherish? I remember me and my sister getting possessive if our mother spoke too long to her sisters- that is how much we yearned for her company.
As I write this, I feel like there is an entire culture in my country that shies away from this – from sharing your struggles and pains. As if it is something to be ashamed of. Or if not ashamed, something to not mention to others… But alhamdulillah that I look at my Deen and see what it says about it… Honestly, in today’s world where everybody has become obsessed with only sharing the best from their lives, who is it out there who will share their sorrows? And if we do not share our sorrows, what kind of humans are we becoming? Ok let me rephrase that, alright, I understand some people prefer not to talk about their pain to the whole world and just to near and dear ones. That is ok – that is their choice. But we need to share our experiences so others can find some hope in the tests of this life. Because this life is nothing but a test. It is nothing but a test, in the form of play and enjoyment. It is nothing but a test, sometimes in the form of suffering and pain.
And as I go in circles with this philosophy, the only thing to take away from this is this:
Your struggle is your own. Your test is your own. Nothing anybody else has or is facing or is enjoying has got anything to do with your eternal life. So look back and focus. Focus on your own life and your own actions. This requires constant struggle. Leave all else.
If a person chooses to not share their struggles with others, that is a personal choice- it is not more Islamic to do so, neither does it make us a better Muslim or a worse Muslim if we choose to or not choose to. Someone even implied that writing a blog means you do not have other more important things to do.
Alhamdulillah, there are still some classical traditional scholars – men and women who will tell you it is perfectly ok to do so, without the least hint of “it would be better if you did not”.
Let me go back to my mother…
It was my mother, who, despite her illness due to the third chemotherapy circle after the cancer had spread not just to her brain two years ago, but to her liver and bone marrow – decided that she wanted to send my teacher homemade chicken corn soup- the last day before my mother had to travel to Jeddah. She said our teacher had done so much for us- we were always having lunches and chai at her place as we studied Quran, hadith, fiqh, Arabic sari and nahw, part-time in addition to our Bachelor studies at LUMS. On top of that, she was expecting…
Sometimes I imagine, how, if my mother had been so adamant on sending my teacher homemade chicken corn soup because she was expecting- how she would have pampered me and my sister in our pregnancies and post-deliveries.
I imagine how she would have scolded us when we scold our children. I imagine how she would always have taken our kids’ side – and it would have been such a relief that someone was there to love them when we were too tired or too upset with them in that moment… I imagine how I could have called her up and shared my worry about my first son who didn’t want to go to school ever, of when he got a pulled elbow, of how he now refuses to eat the same things he used to eat a year ago – and how I would have gotten stories in return of me and my siblings and what we used to do.
It was my mother, who prayed to Allah swt to take her away ‘chaltay phirtay” – she did not want to be dependant on anyone. In 2006, when after 7 years of health after her first diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the cancer was detected again – she had started getting sudden headaches. It was not migraine. The cancer had spread to her brain. This time the therapies resulted in her condition becoming worse… Because it affected her brain cells, we could not communicate well with her. It was in 2006, that subconsciously, my being became fearful of the possibility that we may really lose her.
Allah SWT Granted her recovery. And she began walking and talking once again. Once again, ready to fulfill her role of being mother and caretaker. Her pictures after this incident are different. She looks like a survivor – and in that is evidence that my siblings and our father were survivors too. Survivors of the touch of fatal illness, that changes the lives of not only the one suffering, but the lovers as well.
It makes you a little older, a little more wise (hopefully) and a little more dead. That is the ability of a touch with reality. It may make you more blind too – because you may not want to look. It may want you to numb your pain in different ways…
Back to 2006…
She was not her old self after that…
My mother, who always made evenings so much fun. Tea times with some little thing- savory or sweet – she could concoct a recipe we tasted in a restaurant with no effort at home.
She was now a warrior who had returned from battle, aware that she would have to go fight again. But wanting to hope to live on for her youngest son and her husband, if not her two daughters whom she at that point couldn’t fathom would need her so much even after, and in fact especially after they had gone to their new homes. She told me a few months before she passed away – that she worried for my youngest brother and my father…
She Knew it was Allah SWT Who would take care of them. But she said that out loud to me. Who will take care of them – and in those words she left a love and concern that will warm our hearts – because we feel the absence of the shade only she could have provided. Allah SWT Healed and Protected and took care of us – but He also Showed us what a beautiful Gift He Gives to us in the form of our mothers – when our mother’s shade was forever lost for us in this dunya we realized truly what a difficult dunya it is. And the reality behind the facade.
There is no substitute for a mother’s care… Just like there is no substitute for our relationship with Allah swt.
A book could be written about each life on this earth. An entire book can be written about what I learnt from you and about how in taking you away, my rabb taught me so much. He gave me experiential knowledge of things about which we are told by our beloved nabi sallAllahu alaihi wasallam. My Rabb gave me a taste of the sorrow my nabi (s) must have felt when his mother passed away. He gave me a tinge of the sorrow he must have felt when his grandfather and then his uncle and his beloved wife passed away.
I want to cherish this sorrow. I wish to make this pain my strength, my armour and not my weakness. It is unfortunate that people whom I thought would have enough spiritual insight to understand these realities of our life on this earth did not really have the empathy or kindness or understanding one would expect from them. But that is alright. It is Allah SWT’s way of teaching us how only He Heals and only He Grants different talents and different blessings to all of His ibaad. Hold on to all the different people He has Gifted you – look deeper – you will find them all around you.
Mother, you went away too soon…
But my hope is in Allah’s Promise:
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
… and my prayer and my hope is that He Keeps Granting us that patience till our last breath. Ameen.