Monday, October 3, 2016

There is no definition of 'Better' for me...

"At the temple there is a poem called "Loss" carved into  the stone.  It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.." ~ Arthur Golden

This request has been sitting in my inbox for the longest time. 

I read it, reread it, thought about helping her answer the question, decided against it, left it hoping i'd forget, came across it again...the process repeats every so often.

Her daughter passed away in her sleep of SIDS 7 years ago. She says 7 years to the day and she is having trouble to deal. She has sleepless nights, she has nightmares. I am fine with reading this. And then after telling me what she has gone through, she asks me a question which makes me shift in my seat everytime I read it. She asks me 'have you gotten better? how do you deal with it? I see you have not written about your feelings for a while...', Everytime I read this email, I wanted to delete it but the last sentence always stops me. She says 'please help me sis...I don't know what to do. It's affecting my marriage, its affecting my capabilities as a mother...please help...' 

I shift in my seat because I honestly do not know how to answer her. I don't. For the longest time I did not want to answer, because the truth is painful, but I owe it to Akif to help other mothers who have suffered the loss of their kids. That was my promise to myself when he died. So i will try my best.

The short answer is 'I don't know'. The long answer would be 'it depends on the day'. 

How do I go back to the way I was before Akif died? That is basically what her email was asking me, whether she can ever get better and go back to the way she was.

I honestly can't speak for anybody else, but for me, there was never any going back to who I was before he died. I will never go back to the way I was before that point. It was simply impossible.

When he died, a part of me died with him, and that is permanent. What part of me that I lost was permanent, irreversible. And so I changed. When he died, I changed.  

But that did not mean I never got better. Not being able to go back to the way I was did not equate to not getting better, it just meant that I had to learn to make the best of what is left of me now and moving forward.

Because moving forward is inevitable, because not moving forward would mean that I would have to stay still and die. And I simply could not do that. I had one more son which was alive, which needed me. And he was stubborn in his demand for whatever that I had left. He would look me in the eye and tell me how much he loved me and demanded that I say it back to him 10 times louder. He would wake me up with kisses and drag me out of bed when I simply had no strength to go through a particular day. He was relentless, constant, unwavering. In other words, he kept me alive. And for the longest time, I had the weirdest logical thought process, I must stay alive and be the best person I can be, because that is the only way I might get a shot at seeing Akif after all that is said and done on the other side.

But that is my drive to pick up the pieces of whoever I was left and to stick it back together and hobble along. I don't know whats yours. But whatever it is, keep on holding on to it. Don't expect to be exactly who you were before she died of SIDS. Don't use that person as a benchmark or definition of getting 'better'. It is NOT and it never will be. The person who you were before is gone, so say goodbye to her and make your peace with the fact that you have changed along with what has happened to you.

People say, the songs say about how nothing can break them, and equates being broken to weakness. For the longest time, I believed it too. But these tears, our tears, our despair and overcoming it is not a sign of weakness, it is simply a process we have to go through to become mended. 

If you have sleepless nights, well I have them too. If you have nightmares, I am not afraid to say that I have them too. It does not mean I am not better, it just means that I miss what I have lost, sometimes unbearably so. We have those days, and we are not any lesser or weaker for having them. 

I have those days and nights, and I get through them. And I have them again. The process repeats itself. 

In between those days though, I see and memorize the laughter of those still living, I look at sunsets with interest, I look at the waves and seas with longing, I notice how the clouds can have funny shapes when Airiel points it out to me. I smile when and laugh when my friends and family makes silly jokes, I read incessantly. I drink too much coffee. I travel and see the miracles that make me feel so small. I am content. 

I honestly do not know what 'better' is and when I will get there. But this is okay. What I have right now is okay. And that is the truth. I do not know of a word to describe what stage I am at and that is okay too.

I hope this helps you.

May your daughter and both my angel children be blessed.

Akif, this one's for you.

Much love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.


  1. Inspiring post. May Allah keep you and her strong everyday. Haven't heard from you for quite long Idza. Hope you are doing great as always. Take care. Maybe one day we can have coffee together :)

    1. insyaallah kak lily. Do keep in touch. I am doing great alhamdulillah