Jummah Mubarak Beautiful Readers. Just thought I would share this piece I wrote some time ago and give us something to reflect on…. Happy Reading!
I would sit with her late at night as her body writhed in pain, I would dab her with a cool cloth when she felt too hot, wiping away the drizzles of sweat forming on her nose and forehead, and I held her close when she shivered. And finally I would watch her as she fell into a peaceful slumber. Only then would the tears exit the corners of my eyes, and roll down my cheeks, around my chin and into the crevice of my breasts, from which I nursed her so lovingly till she was a year old. I couldn’t watch my baby die, it was tearing me apart, ripping my soul into a thousand, million shreds. Was it even fair to watch one’s child, who you carried for nine months inside of you and cared for nine more years, die? I could not wrap my mind around the thought of not having her around, my sunshine in the morning, my personal dose of daily hope.
She burst into our lives on her exact due date, just as the sun was bursting through the sky, bringing with her more joy to add to our family, and smelly nappies, loud burps and plenty giggles. She captured everyone’s heart who ever laid sight on her bright blue eyes and dimpled smile. And even now, when the effects of chemo has left her skin as grey as ash and she has lost her chubby cheeks to the point where you can trace her cheekbones with your finger, even now people are in awe of her sparkling blue eyes and beautiful smile.
But today she has moved everyone to tears, even the doctor, who has trained himself in the face of death, and watches people die on a daily basis, shed a tear for my daughter and her never-ending courage and determination in life and death, alike.
Today, as we all surround her in her final moments, she requests to be at home.
“Why sweetheart?” I ask her gently. “You will be more comfortable here, and they will be able to help you with the pain.”
“What pain, Mummy?” she looked at me with those crystal eyes, filled with sincererity and determintaion. “I feel no pain, other than in my heart. I would like to be in my own bed, surrounded by my family and smelling the smells I did all my life, the smells of love. I want to close my eyes and remember you there, in the room you made for me from scratch, choosing the colours and linen so carefully. I want that perfect image as my last.”
We were sceptical. We didn’t want her suffering any more than she had to. The doctors could do no more. The cancer that started like a leech on her spine, a year before she turned nine, had spread through to the rest of her body, attacking her and becoming larger than her. The fight was over. Nadia had quietly grown up, grown wise, and had put her zealous swords of courage away and invited the cancer to consume her with a frightening calmness. She wasn’t giving up, she was setting herself free.
Later on, I can recall her smiling sweetly and asking for grape juice, her favourite juice, because purple was her favourite colour. She lay in bed, propped high by the large lilac pillows, as we surrounded her once again. Myself, her father, her elder sister and her baby brother. She took her time to look at each of us exclusively, for long moments, silently, her eyes piercing through to the depths of our souls. And then she spoke to us all.
“Why are you scared of death?” she asked calmly. It was the first time she had mentioned the word. We all gaped at her in shock, awed by her resilience, as tears stung our eyes again. “If you choose to look at death as dark and gloomy, it will scare you. You will be so petrified in your final moments that you will forget to remember the beautiful gift you been handed to by Allah. Your life is the packaging, wrapped in bright colours and pretty ribbons. It is what surrounds the surprise on the inside. Unwrapping the gift is living your life. If you do it slowly, meticulously, careful not to damage the pretty patterns on the wrapping and without ripping the bows so they unwind, you will have so much more appreciation for the gift that lies inside. And when the time comes to look at your gift and hold it in the palm of your hand, if it fits, you can finally close your eyes and savour the moment, and be grateful that you took your time. I have taken my time. My nine years with you may seem short, but slowly you all helped me unwrap my gift sent by Allah. Now I will take the final steps, there is one more layer, which I must undo by myself, but I would like you all to sit here while I do. I want to close my eyes, and hold these precious moments in my heart before I enjoy the incredible beauty of my gift. Hold my hand Mummy, and guide me as you always have.”
I didn’t understand what she meant, but I moved even closer and gently took her frail hand in my own, wondering how my child got so wise, and when? She smiled again. Her eyes twinkled as she captured each one’s memory in her heart. Then she closed them and whispered a single word, “Jannah.”
And as the sun disappeared below the horizon, Nadia’s soul fluttered away, leaving her lifeless body behind in her purple room. She had gone to collect her final gift. Finally, my baby could walk without pain, and maybe even fly, as she often wished. Her suffering had come to an end. She was home, her final abode. It wasn’t the end, but the beginning of another incredible journey for her.
Dedicated to my beloved Granny, who was a victim of Cancer. May Allah grant her direct flight into Jannatul Firdows. Ameen!