One day last year, while my parents were vacationing, I ignored a leak from the bathroom on the second floor of their home. A day later, the leak exploded and drenched two walls of the kitchen downstairs. I developed a migraine rather promptly. When I told my father, he said, “Don’t worry. The walls can be fixed.”
I nearly cried from guilt and worry, and then he said, “If worrying could fix it, I’d encourage you to worry more.”
That was typical of my father’s gentle way of making things right. For all his harsh words and strict standards over the years, he’d always had a charming way of soothing something that seemed unbearable.
I recall the night Ginger, my pet hamster, died. I was ten years old, and we’d been out, shopping, perhaps, but when we returned, I remembered that I hadn’t fed my hamster that day.
I went into the basement, where I kept his cage, and found his furry body curled up in his favorite corner. He seemed asleep, but his back peaked with a rigidity I’d never seen before. I reached into the cage and grasped him gently, as usual, but his body was stiff and cold. I dropped him and screamed. My father heard the scream and started screaming himself. He thought I’d encountered a burglar or worse.
I ran upstairs and yelled, “Ginger is dead!” and then felt guilty for causing my father such a scare. He’d been watching TV in the living room.
I cried, and could not go to bed, so I sat on the sofa close to Papa. He put his arm around me, and told me about the night his father died. I don’t remember the details of the story, because I was so impressed with the fact that my father did not cry while he told it, even though I could see he was still sad after all those years.
I said to myself, “If Papa can bear the death of his father, I can bear the death of Ginger.” I also realized that someday I’d be in his position. Someday I’d have to bear my Papa’s death.
That thought caused me to cry again, nearly to the point of choking, and to snuggle into my father’s side as if to pin him there next to me forever. How would I be able to bear Papa’s death? My ten year old heart didn’t know.
I asked myself that question periodically over the next forty-seven years, and never learned the answer. My father died on March 9, 2008, at the age of eight-seven, and I still don’t know the answer. A part of me has died, but not the part that contained my father. That part lives in my heart and half my DNA. His spirit still speaks to me and to everyone else he touched, and there are many of us.
Now I worry that when I stop crying, he will die yet again. In the meantime, I will ask myself not to worry. If worrying could fix things, I’d encourage myself to worry more.
I just stumbled into this beautiful post. I’m so sorry that your father passed away. He sounded like a smart and kind man. I’m glad his own words are able to be of comfort to you.
What helps me is to remember is that regret has to do with the past and worry has to do with the future. Unless you can change either, regret and worry are both pointless.
Aww… this post just filled my eyes with tears. Your father sounds like a great man. mashaAllah. I too ask myself will be able to handle my mother’s death when it comes. She’s getting older each day and its a thought I don’t think I could bare.
Please post more about your father, inshaAllah.
This a story that warms the soul Marahm. May God have mercy over all those we have loved and will never lose. May we all rejoice one another in eternal heaven.
Thank you Birdpress, for your kind words, and yes, both regret and worry cannot do much for their objects of focus, so why are people so prone to indulging in them? I suppose this is a rhetorical question.
Thank you, UmmZahra, for your comment, and request to hear more about my father. I have already written much about him that is not posted here. Writing helps me with the grief, and I will post more about him. You may want to see my three other posts, Passing the Torch, Spaghetti on Sundays, and We Buried my Papa. (Sorry, I haven’t figured out how to enter the links into the comment screen yet.)
When you are required to say good-bye to your mom, you will find the resources to do so, though you cannot imagine how. “Tawakellna alallah” (sorry, I do not know transliteration). If you have any unfinished businss with Mom, now might be a good time to finish it, if possible.
Thank you, Aysha, for your lovely “dua”. Ameen, ameen!
As Salaamu Alaikum Sis:
Thank you for posting more about your father. What a wonderful man, Masha Allah!
You reminded me of when my very good friend died. About six months after he died, I was shocked to find myself laughing again. I felt so guilty. Why was I happy and laughing, while he was dead? It’s parts of the grieving process I am told.
As Salaamu ALaikum SIS:
First time I stumble over your blog. Wow, what an entry. I think that we can all relate to death. It’s hard to talk about it and especially to think about it. However, your father did leave a lot to rememeber him by. Mash’ALlah, our parents are a joy to have even in their own ways of doing things that we sometimes dont agree with. They always know better and so when we become parents do we wisen up.
Anyway, nice blog you got going here. Insh’ALlah, I hope to stop by again.
Another beautiful blog entry Marahm; thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂 I’m also feeling quite teary-eyed after reading this.
Umm Ibrahim x
Thank you, Saffiya; my father was, indeed, a wonderful man. Grieving is like love– everyone knows when they’re in it, but it feels different from person to person.
Ummabdurrahman, thank you for stopping by. We surely do wisen up with the years, especially when we have our own kids. Hope to see you here again.
Umm Ibrahim, Thank you for your comment. It means a lot.
I reached your blog from Shahrzaad’s.
This post is very touching. Mt dad died 12 years ago and till this day I remember him and pray for him every single day. We had a very close relationship and I feel for you.
May God rest their souls.
Ameen! Thank you, W. From your comment, I am sure that a loving daughter never gets over the death of her dear father. She simply learns to live with it, and prays for him every day.