I would like to apologize to all the people who lost someone they loved, whom I conveyed my condolences to with “Innililahe Wa Inna Ilehe Rajioon, may he/she be granted the highest ranks in Jannah and may his/her loved ones find the strength to overcome this great loss.” I’m sorry I thought you could overcome the loss of a loved one. I recently learned that you can only deal with it. You can learn to live without their presence. You can compartmentalize your thoughts. But, you can never, ever, overcome it.
Loss. The only loss I ever knew of, I ever experienced, was the loss of the love of a parent, the loss of a friendship, losing my wallet or my house keys. I had heard of losing a loved one, I attended funerals, I sent condolence messages, I visited families of the deceased, I even shed a tear or two. But I never truly knew, I never truly felt and I never truly experienced loss.
Loss. The kind that leaves a hole in your heart. The kind that cannot be healed or forgotten with time.
Loss. The kind that fills you with regret, “I wish I had spent more time…,” “I wish I had received the call...,” “Why did I not take more trips home?”
Loss. When your body feels numb and everyone around you feels insignificant.
Loss. When random people are hugging you and are suddenly a part of the worst day of your life.
Loss. When life becomes mechanical…Wakeup. Eat. Cry. Sleep. Repeat.
I remember the first time I was told that my grandfather was in a state of coma after having two back-to-back strokes. I remember booking my flight that evening and rushing to the hospital…whispering in his ear. Hoping for a miracle like in Indian movies. Talking to him, thinking that maybe if he heard my voice, he’d suddenly wake up. I told him that he still had so much to see, I still had so much to share with him. I hugged him, I apologized for all the times I may have hurt him, I thanked him for all the sacrifices he gave to raise me, I thanked him for supporting me to marry the man of my choice, I thanked him for encouraging me to be independent, to be self-sufficient, to educate myself, to build a career and focus on growing as a writer. I thanked him for never treating me different from my brother – treating us equally. I thanked him for being happy in my happiness, sad in my sadness and supportive when I was at my weakest.
I stood there, helpless, everyone around me telling each other “recite this…” “pray that…” … and we did. We prayed. We begged. We stood in the hallways of the hospital and cried our eyes out.
I went back and forth to and from the hospital for 2 weeks. I saw my mom’s soul shatter, my grandmother break, I saw the men of our house weaker than I had ever imagined and I saw my grandfather fade day after day.
The days his eyes would move, or when he would respond to our voices, those days were the best of the worst days. There was a ray of hope. Maybe he’ll wake up. We sent everyone, the kids, the adults, the children, grandchildren…he didn’t wake up.
2 weeks later, everyone who flew in had to return back to his or her respective homes. The truth of life is that it doesn’t stop for anyone. While our lives were shattering piece by piece every single day, the world was moving on. And so, everyone began to leave one by one…with a heavy brick in their hearts.
2 weeks after I returned back home from Karachi, I received a call from my brother, “I think you should come to karachi, komal.” … And I knew something was wrong. When I found out that the light of my heart had passed away, my heart broke like never before and I felt what “loss” actually feels like. I started frantically packing, it was 2 days before Eid so the flights were fully booked. We started looking for flights and booked the first one we saw available. I started calling my girls in Karachi to go to my mom and my grandmother and take care of them till I get there. It look me 8 hours to get to Karachi because of the lack of flights. I felt nothing.
I do take comfort in the fact that my grandfather, may he be granted the highest ranks in Jannah – Ameen, passed away on a very blessed day (according to Muslims). He passed away in the last 10 days of Ramadan, on the 27th day and on a Friday. That’s like a dream for most Muslims. I thanked Allah in that moment. I said, fine, You decided to take him but thank You for giving him such a high regard and honor, Alhumdulilah.
I remember the first time I received a call from his number after he had passed away. My uncle was using his phone and he called me. And my phone rang, it read Nanoo calling…and a picture of me, my nanoo, my nani and mom popped up. For a second I had forgotten that he was gone.
But I wasn’t dreaming. I still am not dreaming. When I returned back from Karachi, for almost a month I would ask my husband … “Is nanoo gone?” and he’d say, ‘yes’ and hold my hand. Id nod my head, that okay, it is true. It will be okay.
My nanoo was very proud of my writing. He is the reason I started writing in the first place. I just never thought that id be proof-reading and editing his obituary some day.
We don’t ever think of losing the people we love. I mean, we think it, we know it is the inevitable truth of us mortal beings, but we don’t truly think it will happen. Regardless of the age, there can never be enough time on earth with your loved ones. I told my mom that if Allah had given us 100 years with nanoo, we would still be breaking because we would’ve wanted more.
I see him in my dreams some times, smiling, laughing. And other times, I forget how his voice sounded.
Inniliah e Wa Inna Ilehe Rajioon. You will lose someone some day and you will regret the time you did not spend with that person…but I assure you, you spent enough time. You shared enough love. You gave enough of yourself.
So, don’t hurt more than you hurt already. Give yourself, your heart, your soul a break. All of us must go some day. Find solace in the fact that one day, all of us will reunite with our loved ones in the heavens above, InshaAllah.