Death is not sadness. It is a new found emptiness. Tears attempt to fill the irreplaceable void, so the darkness of the abyss is not as near frightening.
10th January. She hadn’t spoken in days and doctors are sure she will not make it past this weekend. Everything has stopped for her fraction of this Dunya, whilst our work, family, duties, bills – the components of livelihood, compel us forward. Force us to rejoin our unraveling Dunya, no matter how much we ignore it, it will spill out until we notice the mess and clean. Completion of overnight watch duty; it was time to head to youth work. Left for 3 hours. On the platform to 3 stops back to the hospital. No signal. No network. Just Wi-Fi. A single message broadcasted. One whatsapp call. 1 minute. 3 it’s true and a lifetime of tears.
Tears flooded and gasps for air frightened commuters as several trains left me stranded. A woman in a hi-vis tapped the shrouded shoulders and caused a momentary return to reality.
“Are you alright?”
As if my sadness required an apology, it did not mean to infringe on your happiness.
To escape the torment of crying in public, scurried on the train and held the pole of the central line. With no where to bury my head, I let single tears stream down in the hope they were invisible.
The last time I cried in front of her was as I sprinkled rose water over her body.
27th October. Her lungs are being lousy. She needs forced oxygen. No talking today. I stayed the night. all alone. Turned my head for one minute. Her chest stopped moving. “No” echoed through me. I felt her heartbeat slip a way. Read the shahadah.
Then she comes.
“Am sorry honey. She’s gone”
2 minutes of internal screaming. 10 minutes of trying to utter the words. And a lifetime of a chipped heart.
When she stopped breathing I did to. My lungs forgot how to operate. I now choke on the very oxygen that left her.
The last time I cried in front of her was just after the Janazah prayer where I refused to leave her.
Anyone can rationalise death. I’ve done it both times. No amount of explanations and understanding can ease the pain of lost future memories or the permanent imagery of a vessel with no soul. But what comforts is the beautiful reel they left in the wake of their life. The sweet moments like when she saved you from your mum, who loved shoving shampoo in your eyes or when she told you a story on Eid and you fell asleep with a handesh in your hand. Death is inevitable but what is unwritten (in essence) is how we decide to live our lives. I choose to be present. I choose to love relentlessly. To forgive before being asked. Let my life be a beautiful story, let generations tell my story at campfires, where the warmth of the lingering ghost of my soul keeps hearts from catching hypothermia.