The box

The other day, a box arrived at my house. It was a familiar box, one that I had left back in Florida. But strangely, I remembered it being bigger than it really was. And I looked at the box, thinking that maybe what I knew was in there really wasn’t. Maybe, just maybe, the sender would have replaced the contents with something else. One can be wishful.

But I knew what lay inside. Before moving back to Houston, I packed up my life of four years into countless boxes and shipped them home. Those things didn’t matter much to me, for if they got lost, I wouldn’t be sad. But there was just one box that I could not bear to part with.

Our box of wedding clothes. I had gingerly placed them together. His sherwani. My sari. My lehanga. All folded neatly, the fabrics caressing one another. Silk over satin. And I sealed it shut, locking away memories of a life gone too fast. And I left the box with my cousin, knowing that if it got lost in the mail, I would be devastated.

Fast-forward to the present.

And so the box stayed on my living room floor for a few days. I told my mom to put it away when I wasn’t home, because I didn’t think I could handle it. But a few days later, I was overcome with this strange urge to look inside.

I sat on the floor, and ripped open the tape securing it together. And my mom gasped.

“NO! Don’t open the box. You said you couldn’t handle it.”

Apparently, I was wrong. I think my mom just couldn’t stand the thought of me breaking down. But as I got out the clothes, I could see her staring at me from the corner of my eyes.

And I pulled out the contents, slowly. My fingers touched the clothes. And I smiled. Simply smiled. When the pain ceases, the smiles brighten.

It’ll be nice if Safiyah marries a tall man, like I did. That way, he too, can wear the same clothes that her dad did on his wedding day.

Workaholic

So it’s been determined that I’m a workaholic. Even as I type this, I’m thinking about my kids at work and what I can do to help them

I am, by definition, a behavior-analyst in the making. I’m in school so that I can analyze behavior for a living. And that doesn’t mean I sit in a room and watch kids engage in various types of behavior.

No, I get in the room and get scratched. Hit. Kicked. Bit. And my hijab pulled in all different directions. These kids of mine aren’t bad kids. I will stand up for them if anyone even implies that they doing something bad.They’re wonderful children living in a world that may not make sense to them or even be fair. These children have Autism.

Every day, I go into work and try to give my all. Try . As in not-always-succeed. But really, I think they give me so much more than I can ever give them.

They give me a chance to work on my patience. They give me a chance to give back to someone. They give me a chance to unconditionally love them, inspite of everything else. And they give me a chance to try and attempt to impact their lives.

My heart melts into a puddle whenever one of them calls me by my name or just randomly hugs me. In their unfair and confusing world, they give me a chance to be something stable and something that they know. All of the money in the world can’t replace that kind of trust.

But more than anything, these kids teach me to be grateful. I live in a world that functions exactly as I do. I live in a world where people don’t stare at me.  And more than anything, I live in a world where things make sense.

Double cop

My route to single parenthood hasn’t been an easy one. And it’s not because I’m handling everything alone. Let me clarify that right now. I live with my parents. And my sister.  And there are a lot of people in our lives who lovingly lend a hand, even if I don’t need any help.

It’s been a difficult one because of the emotions that come along with it. First came the guilt of having to split my time between Rube and Safi during the first 9 months of Safi’s life. I wish they could have been spent together but a chemo-drained and overtired husband does not mesh well with a new baby that didn’t find sleep to be important.

And then came the issue of mourning.  I tried rushing my mourning so that I could be “over it and move on” but that’s much easier said than done. And I learned that the hard way.

And then came the guilt of working full-time and trying to complete my MEd online. I eventually got over that and it’s brought peace to my heart.

And add laziness to all of that. Let me tell you something.  Having all this help is such a blessing but it has made me such a lazy mom. If I don’t do it, someone else will.And I have this extremeness of taking on too much or taking on nothing at all.

I know that if I was on my own, life would be different.  It would be hectic and stressful and I would be on-the-go-24-7 but being at home brings peace to my parents and a whole lot of love to my daughter. 

But perhaps the hardest thing about single parenthood is the dual role of good-cop-bad-cop. Sometimes I have to flip between these roles like a light switch.  Safi knows that I do not play around about somethings but she also knows that she can fake a cry and somebody will come around to help her out of her situation.  Cue eye-rolling please!

But you know, I really think that going through all of this is most definitely a good thing. It will make me a strong person and it will hopefully make me someone that my daughter can learn from and be proud of.

I tell my daughter that she is my best friend.  And I tell her that I love her every single day. And she does the same. If she sees me sitting down without a smile on my face,  she immediately tells me to be happy and smile. Even if nothing is wrong.  Such an innocent soul she is. She makes being a double-parent worthwhile. All of that love inside that sweet heart goes to me. And I selfishly accept.

And then she said…

The other night, my daughter and I were having a small conversation before bed. Now that she’s a little older and a little more curious,  I tell her about her baba sometimes. (I do this because she also tells random people that her daddy is at work.)

So that night’s conversation went something like this:

“Honey, do you know where your baba is?”

“No, where is he?”

“Well, Allah (SWT) wanted him back.”

“But why?”

“He was very sick, sweetheart. Allah(SWT) didn’t want him to be sick anymore. “

“Can I go visit him?”

….”One day, baby. One day. In Jannah.”

My heart is on the verge of breaking at this point. And then she said,

“When I grow up, I want to be a good Muslim and go to Jannah and see him.”

May all of your amazing dreams come true, lovey.  And may you go to Jannah and run into your baba’s arms. And may all of the duaas he made for you come true.

I’m sorry that I can’t be him for you. I can try to be everything else though.  But my duaa for you is always the same. That I’m able to give you a love big enough for two hearts. It is because of you that I dream big.

Last day

I still remember it vividly, as if it were yesterday. There I was, overlooking everything in a out-of-body realm experience. The smells. The sounds. The emotions. The sunlight pouring into the room. And the serenity. Amongst all the commotion happening, everything felt peaceful. And I remember feeling tired to my soul, as if my heart and mind could tolerate no more. I called out to Him, in desperation.

“Dear God, please no more. My patience has worn thin.”

There she was, sitting next to him, for hours. Just the two of them. The scurrying of nurses coming into say goodbye told her one thing: the months of agony were close to an end.

Just a little more…just a little more.

She was parched, desperate for a tall glass of icy water to cool the lump in her throat. But as she moved for the jug just a few feet away, he grabbed her hands, his fingers magnetized to her tips. And so she sat, waiting for another nurse to walk in, asking to be of any assistance.

The room had a constant flow of people–family, nurses, doctors, friends. They came with moral support, more than anything. And to say their final goodbyes. At one point, she leaned over and whispered something in his ear. He smiled and nodded.

And then came the silence. Slowly, everyone left the room. She sat next to him, with a smile. An overwhelming sense of calm overtook her mind and she relaxed. She looked at him, and his eyes shot open. He looked up and his eyes began fluttering. She grabbed his hand and started praying, with affirmation in her voice.

La illaha illallah. (There is no one worthy of worship but Him). La illaha illallah. La illaha illallah.

And then he was gone. Gone with a small smile on his face. Gone with the name of God being the last thing he heard. Gone from the world that he was desperate to leave and into a world he longed for.

As his soul left his body, the tiredness I had felt earlier left mine. For the first time in a long time, I felt relaxed, not having to worry about the next bad news from the doctor or the potential side effects of the next round of chemo.

That day, Allah (SWT) showed me one thing. He knows how much I can handle, before reaching my breaking point. And He knows exactly when I’m about to fall. And every time, He has caught me, gently placing me back on the path that I walk.

Loving the unmarried life

I’ll admit it. I thought marriage was everything.  When I had it, I didn’t appreciate it enough. And when I no longer did, I couldn’t imagine a life unmarried.  But here I am, 2.5 years later, still unmarried but with a different mindset about it.

You see, in place of marriage,  I have so many other wonderful things. Things come to us at the right time, regardless of how we feel about their appearance. And while we wait for the one thing that we must absolutely have, other wonderful things pass us by before we realize that they are what we need in our lives.

So I just want to take a step back and really thank Allah (swt) for everything He has given me in place of marriage.

Like the whole-hearted love of my daughter.  And the ability to stay at home with my parents.  To be able to see my sister grow into the amazing woman that she is. To be able to work and go to school so that I can give Safiyah a well-deserved life. I have wonderful friends that are just as crazy about me as I am about them.

I have learned that marriage isn’t everything.  I have learned to love myself and more importantly, to love everything I have in my life right now. One day, there will be another man in my life and the last thing I want to do is regret not appreciate the unmarried life while I had the chance.

Dear friend.

Dear friend.
How I wish I could take away your pain and replace it with hugs and smiles. I can’t even imagine what you must be going through and yet, you reach out to me, telling me I inspire you. But I am nothing to be inspired by.

Dear friend.
I wish I knew the right words to say that would bring you comfort and make you forget of all the trials that you have had to face. But there’s only so much one can do from continents away.

Dear friend.
When Safi cries, I find myself annoyed at times.But then I remember you and what you have to go through for your child. And it calms me, making me realize that my daughter is a customized gift to me. The thought of not having her in my life burns my soul but yet, I can’t even imagine understanding how shattered you must feel, seeing your gift slowly slip away.

Dear friend.
I have tears rolling down my face for you. If every drop resembled a dua’a, I’d keep crying, begging for every drop to be answered.

Dear friend.
How I love you. Hang on tight to your Love for Allah(SWT). He’s testing you with this and surely, He will get you through this. Never forget that this duniya is just a dream. You’ll wake up, relieved for that you’ve had endure. Allah(SWT)’s mercy has no end.