Ease of peace…

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Every day there comes a time where my patience starts running extremely short and my mind is so exhausted that all I want to do is nothing. Think about nothing, act on nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. In those moments I crave peace. The kind of peace that I feel can only come from a cool ocean breeze blowing in my face on a remote tropical island, or the sound of rain would bring while I watch it snuggled in a blanket on a comfy couch looking outside a window with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, or when I drive on an empty highway without worrying about reaching on time or destination.
To keep my cool during that time seems to be the most herculean task in life, especially because this time usually arrives right before the kids’ bedtime where both of them are crankier than usual and pulling on each arm of mine to get a piece of whatever’s left from the day. I still have two or three errands to run after putting them to sleep yet when I lie down besides them all my body says is don’t move now that you are here.
What is it that makes me calm and decide to get up from bed then? I do it every day yet never thought about it without a hint of sulking and envy from everybody else who is asleep at that hour. Its the faces of my husband and kids peacefully sleeping away, the rhythm of their slumber slowly getting deeper, away from needing me and getting lost in dreams. Dreams they run after in their sleep. But for me that right there, looking at their faces brings an immense peace and tranquility, the kind that nothing in the world could bring. And I close my eyes and slowly thank Allah for Blessing me with the opportunity to experience it.
Family is the most underrated and taken for granted treasure bestowed to us in this world, I feel. We only cherish it when they are no longer there, and we mostly only value it after its worth has been shown. All the cheesy one-liners about family that I read throughout life now make solid sense. It is also the only thing that ties together every human emotion and relationship in one bundle thus being indestructible and unmatched when strong. The kind of peace and ease having a complete family brings is unmatched with any riches of the world. So I remind myself that, “Verily, with hardship comes ease.(94:5)” This little Ayat, to me, is applicable in every hard moment of life no matter how small it is. The ease following any hardship is what makes it worthwhile. Families are made with the ease that follows endless hardships but in the end they are the greatest blessing of all.
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Falling in love…

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Love is something that never grows old in that, as long as there is life, the notion will remain as intriguing and attractive to everyone as day one.

I’ve always found it absolutely, mind blowingly amazing that each and every soul in the world falls in love at least once in their lifetime. And this falling in love defines who they are at the core. This fall makes them unique and precious. Sometimes it lifts them while at others it lets them remain fallen. Nonetheless, it is this fall that gives everyone wings. Wings of expression, breaking norms, being unconventional. And when two souls fall in love together then the outcome is nothing but divine. I mean I don’t even have words to explain that feeling and sense of belonging that starts in the moment one realizes their love is reciprocal, as well as moments that follow for a lifetime thereon.

Writing about love is like trying to count the number of breaths from birth to death. It is immeasurable and impossible. Love is perpetual because if it stays, it leaves a lasting impact, and more so if it leaves, it stays forever too. There is no escape from it either way. Wherever we stand in the walk if life, whenever someone asks us if we have ever fallen in love, the first name to pop in our mind, the first face our eyes imagine at that moment, the first scent that we recall from the fog of memory, the first voice that rings in our ears, and the first smile and tears we think about, all in the first thirty seconds when someone asks this question is what is love.

It is incredible though when you fall in love yet it makes you rise no matter it stays or leaves. It is up to us how we handle its capacitance and voltage. Love has the power to burn or build. Those who get burnt eat nothing but dust, but those who build are the ones that leave behind legacies. For love only creates more love and it always wins.

Here’s to love’s victory for the good and the bad. May love rule forever.

Fighting the Fear of Death

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My father was recently in the hospital, an occurrence that I believe my family has to start getting accustomed to as his Alzheimer’s nears the final stages of the disease. I have never been a fan of hospitals or any setting that involves showing or feeling vulnerability, at least on my part. Yet there are some things in life that we can simply not turn away from. No matter how hard we try to shun them they keep coming back standing in our faces more determined and adamant than before to force us to face them.

When my father had first gotten sick the doctors were having a hard time naming his diagnosis because his symptoms did not fall under a defined medical condition. Eventually they decided to name it early onset of Alzheimer’s as it was the closest thing they could get to. That period of about one month when uncertainty loomed over our heads and the doctors’, that period was the first time I ever thought about death and how drastically it can change life-any life.

Over time I have learnt that the best thing about terminal conditions and diseases is that they teach patience-lots and lots of it. The first stage is inevitable denial. I did not want to acknowledge my father had Alzheimer’s simply because I was too afraid of the changes that lay ahead if something happens to him. Not to mention we never prepared for anything like this happening so soon. So there was ample uncertainty of the future to not accept it. Yet it was to my own detriment. Had I come to terms with the fact sooner, I would have spared myself a lot of mental fatigue and unnecessary stress, as well as not wasted precious time while my father still remembered things more than he does now.

When a person dies suddenly their family is naturally allowed shock and years of coping mechanisms. In cases of terminal illness shock and awe is not an option. You know what is coming next, and you have to be prepared before hand. The mere idea of taking care of a terminally ill person is exhausting. For this I will forever be indebted to my mother for being an exceptionally remarkable caretaker of both my father and my brother who has Down’s Syndrome. She has both of them under her wings, protecting them as much as she can humanly possible.

To say the least, dealing with sudden death is, at least in my situation and experience, easier than dealing with the idea of death hanging on anyone’s head. Yes, we are all destined to die one day, and each breath we take is bringing us closer to it, yet having someone in your life for whom suffering till death has been destined gives you another perspective. While normally the idea of dying and changes that will follow thereafter do not even cross our minds, progressive diseases of loved ones keep reminding us of death and its effects everyday.

It also keeps reminding us that we do not have a lot of time to spend with loved ones so why waste even one moment. Not to mention why waste any moment not being closer to Allah, or our parents, siblings, spouses, children, and even our own selves. It gives us the courage to accept that death is a fact, and no matter when it visits we have to be strong enough to let it change our lives. It helps us cope with the uncertainty death otherwise leaves us with.

My father lost his best friend earlier in the same year his Alzheimer’s kicked in. It was an unexpected situation, one I am positive, he did not imagine would occur so soon in life. I believe it is one of the events that triggered his own disease-the inability to accept death and its resulting changes. Some of us might naturally be strong enough to not let death change us or our daily lives and goals.

The rest, like myself, think about it at least once every day, especially when I am having a hard day, or have a fight with someone close, or am facing any hurdle at all. I remind myself that expending time and energy on anything negative is taking away precious time as my life’s clock ticks me away to death. It reminds me to say a quick prayer before leaving the house, or in the car, or when I wake up or fall asleep, for anyone and everyone, and myself, because I do not fear death, and better still, want to prepare to gracefully and wholeheartedly embrace it. It may be a very big thing to say given that I understand death can strike anyone close to me at any time so while I am not too sure of how I will handle life after death of my father or anyone else close to me, I am sure that in the moment death enters my life I will at least try my best Insha’Allah to not falter and stand firm like the strong person Allah Intends me to be.

The Quran says in 3:185 that, “Every soul shall taste death”. While the deceased certainly tastes death, so do their mourners. Even then we are given hope that we can pray for them, and pray that someone prays for us after we die, so there is hope and faith that when we meet again there will be something more to talk about than grudges or bitterness. In my case, I know I will meet my father, or anyone else who death parts, in a much better place Insha’Allah, and with much better sentiments. So today I pray May Allah Taala Eases death for all of us, and May He Grant us enough patience to emerge as victors from it no matter which side of death we stand on, Ameen.

Ducks on the Railway Track

Every morning the three year old little girl’s mother would dress her in a new frock with matching clips or rubber bands for pony tails, and take a picture from their extremely old fashioned camera. The little girl would hurriedly gobble down some breakfast and as soon as her mother would wipe her face clean she would run outside to her father’s motorcycle and impatiently wait for her father to seat her on the motorcycle’s tank in front of him.

It was a time when seat belt laws were not yet effective, when children could sit wherever and however their parents wanted them to on vehicles, and truly have fun by feeling the breeze ruffle their freshly made hair unlike having their noses buried in tablets and cellphones all along the journey.

It was also a time when the city this little girl grew up in was peaceful and beautiful. It was not yet bombarded by billboards or skyscrapers competing to surpass the last one in height. Not yet infested with business minded zombies, foreign franchises, and power hungry vigilantes. It was a place where mothers would allow their little ones to spend afternoons in their front yards or at a neighbor’s house without fear. When people could still leave their balcony doors open as they took an afternoon nap in the warm summer breeze when electricity would go out. It was something like heaven compared to twenty five years later.

So one peaceful and beautiful summer morning, wearing a new frock with matching shoes and ponytails, jumping in joy to be seated on the motorcycle, this girl was about to leave for her Montessori school. Every morning her father would seat her in front of him, hold the motorcycle’s handles from both sides around her and that was the safest place for her she ever sat despite no belt or car seat for protection. Her joy was not only because she knew she was going to learn something new at school but because in order to get to school they had to pass her favorite small passage. The passage that had ducks on a railway track.

Although ducks are not a rare sight in most places, and nor are railway tracks, but this particular combination of both served as a beautiful start to her day. She loved driving past these ducks and waving at them every morning. If any day she would not see them due to taking another route her mornings would lack that extra flair that she only forgot once she got to school and got busy in some activity. Her father would always smile as they drove past those ducks and he had to slow down his motorcycle in order to prevent damage to its wheels especially since those railway tracks were very stubby and old. While slowing down he would show her the ducks and talk to them for her and she would just laugh gleefully in pure joy.

There must be many other fond memories of her childhood but this one is the earliest one she has. Maybe because she did not get to spend such beautiful mornings alone with her father making her laugh and protecting her from falling as he slowly got off his motorcycle without letting go of the handles on both sides with her seated firmly between his clasp, and walking till the tracks ended. Some days they brought crumbs that the little girl clutched safely in her little hands till they reached the tracks. She then used to throw them scattering them amongst all the ducks.

Twenty five years later she is driving in her car towards her home, her father seated besides her as they talk about his memories. Its a different city, a different place, and certainly no ducks on their journey, but he remembers his motorcycle vividly and how he took it to venture in different places. What he doesn’t remember at all is those ducks, or the railway tracks, or even one such morning from her childhood. They are driving home from his neurologist’s office who hasn’t seen any progress in almost a year and has just provided a fresh list of “numbing” pills as his daughter calls them because all they do is numb his sensitivity to his rapidly escaping memory instead of curing it.
There is no cure for lost memories any way.