I'm sitting, with a white piece of paper, with names of people scribbled all over it, things to do, and people to call for the bridal shower I'm helping throw for a best friend. At the same time, I'm on the phone with one of the people, and moving the laser pointer around with my other hand, smiling, watching my cat chase after the little red dot.
There it goes again. The phone's ringing. It's past midnight, anyone who knows my family wouldn't call at this time, let alone call twice. I ran to pick up the phone, afraid it'll wake up my sleeping parents, hoping I won't miss it again. It's my uncle, from Saudi Arabia.
Asalaam walaikum ( Peace be with You, a Muslim greeting)
Walaikum asalaam (And peace be on to you as well) How are you Bhaijan Mama? (what I call my mom's oldest brother)
I'm doing good alhamdulillah (Another Islamic term-Thanks be to God). How are you?
I reply the same
Is your mom awake?
Errr lemme go check
She had partially woken up due to the phone, but was still too sleepy to answer the phone
She's sleeping Bhaijan Mama. Should I wake her up?
Oh Ok, no don't. Tell her that your nani ammi ( my grandmother, my mom's mother), your nani ammi ok, tell her she passed away when she wakes up.
Oh um ok. ( I wasn't getting it. Who is he talking about? It can't be MY nannammi. It wouldn't happen like this. I'm doing a bridal shower.)
Ok just tell her naani ammi passed away. (Now I'm noticing, how raspy and quiet his voice sounds, devoid of his usual enthusiasm). Did you understand?
Oh ok. Um ok.
She passed away 15 minutes ago. She died today, on such an important day.
Yeah...( and that's when it hit me) Are you doing ok? ( I asked clumsily, barely remembering it was his mother as well)
I'm doing ok alhamdulillah. Okay then, I'll talk to your mom in the morning.
I hang up and and the next thing I know is, I'm already crying.
I remember the prayer Muslims are supposed to read whenever they hear the news of someone's death and read it fast, feeling stupid.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajioun ( From God we come, and to Him we return)
I tell my friend I'll talk to her later and hang up. I've never gotten this upset, this fast before. I didn't even get a chance to hold back my tears, and wait for the familiar glazing over in my vision from the build up of tears.
I mentioned my grandmother in a post right before this one, seeing her was one of the things I was grateful for in the previous year.
She has, had a form of dementia/alzheimers, and when I saw her the past summer, she had no idea who my mom was, and could barely move. In the beginning I sat with her for sometime, helping her remember her own name, hoping she would at least return to the way she was a couple summers ago, when I saw her last.
After sometime, I started avoiding her because it scared me to see my grandmother, who I used to see every summer as a child, like that. It was like she had already left us and I was powerless to help her.
Now she really did leave us. No, she was actually gone, way before that.
I'm sitting and crying hard, but trying to be quiet. I didn't want to wake my parents.
It hits me again. I can't tell my mom. How dare my uncle leave me with this kind of a horrible job? What do I do? Maybe I can wait for my dad to wake up and tell him to tell her. Yeah I'll do that. I can't believe he wanted me to break the news.
I tried imagining what it would be like to recieve the news that your mom passed away. I couldn't do it. I didn't want to be the one to do that. I'll just wait till morning and tell my dad. And again it hits me, how could I be horrible enough to wait till morning? I would hate anyone who would do the same. What's wrong with me? It' s her mom. My grandmother...the same strong woman who used to defend me whenever my grandfather would get angry with me. The one who raised my mother. The one who would read the Quran (our holy book written in Arabic) out loud so beautifully that every time, I would want to just sit and listen to her.
I walk over to my parents room
She turns around. Yeah?
Umm ( Don't prolong it! Say it!) Nanni ammi passed away.
Mummy, nanni ammi passed away.
She sighs, I knew it. He wouldn't call this late unless something happened. When did it happen?
He said 20 minutes ago
Inna lillahi wa inna illahi rajioun
I'm standing there crying. I was more or less expecting this reaction from my mom. She was hit really, really hard when we saw my nanniammi the past summer. While uncomfortably rubbing my foot against my other leg, I'm wondering if I should hug her . I'm not the hugging type but more importantly I was afraid she would start crying if I do.
It's ok. She was gone already, I hear my mom say
I looked down and noticed my cat had been following me around. I smile at my cat. Marveling at her ability to realize that I was upset.
My dad wakes up. What's wrong? What happened? ( I wasn't crying out loud. For the most part it was just quiet. And once again I'm amazed at the ability of God's creations to be so sensitive of their surroudings.)
I wait for my mom to answer. She doesn't say anything.
Nanniammi passed away. Bhaijan mama just called.
He says the same prayer outloud and then says,
At least she's not suffering any more. It was her time, and she died on such a blessed day.
Yeah, alhamdulillah. My mom agrees. She was already gone, at least now she's at peace.
I walked over to my mom, my cat following at my feet. And I lied down, partially on top of my mom, my legs still on the ground.
It was an awkward hug, She was turned to the side, facing away from me, i had my stomach on top of the side of her back, and my head on her shoulder.
I stopped crying.
I listened to her breathing and synchronized my breathing with her's, and stood there quietly. Wondering, what kind of pain my mom was feeling. I looked at her face. She wasn't crying. She opens her eyes, and tells me to go to sleep.
My dad gets up. Repeats again what he said earlier. I felt like he was trying to comfort himself and my mom. He lies back down in awkward position.
I get up to leave, and hear my father repeating the same phrase again, at least she's not suffering anymore and she passed away on an important day. He asks if my uncle is going to India, to help bury her. I tell him I don't know.
Salma was gonna go see her. She was leaving on the 15th. Poor thing, she wanted to visit mummy, I heard my Mom saying as I left the room ( Salma is my mom's younger sister, my mom is extremely close to her)
I stopped crying and decided I wanted to get my feelings out. I wanted to write about it. People die everyday, somebody's grandparent, father, mother, child, sibling is dying somewhere. Do I have a right to be this upset? What about those people, children that are dying due to war, disease, hunger? I think of all the articles I read about the people that died at the hands of Israel, that the general American population don't know about, or don't care about.
The same reason why most of the world hates America. Because of America's refusal to ever tell Israel it's doing something wrong, even when the rest of the U.N. is blatantly saying Israel is committing atrocities.
So do I have a right to be this upset? If I am going to grieve for one life, I should be grieving for all those lives as well. It's not fair on my part to be selfish. Like my mom said, my grandmother had left us a long time ago. I already shed my tears when I saw her last summer.
So why am I crying again? Why am I feeling so much regret for not spending more time with her? For not doing more for her? Why do I not want to belive it, and hope that I can go back and serve her? Why do I miss someone who had already left? Why does it ache to say nanniammi?
I miss her. I want her back. The way she used to be. I don't want my mom feeling this pain, that must be a thousand times worse than mine. My mom's a strong woman when it comes to things like these, but I'm not.
I want her back. Am I not going to see her face again? The one wrinkled through age, and hair that was so white, that I would sometimes be fascinated at the color.
But I want to be happy for her, my nanni ammi, I want to be. Be happy that she's happy to be with her Creator, not hurting anymore.
I don't have my grandmother anymore. God does.
God please forgive her for all her sins. And let her enter Paradise. And tell her I loved her and I'm sorry I wasn't a better grandchild. Please God. Please.
I don't know how long this post is, or how boring it is, or how many mistakes it has, but if you got to end of this post, I want to ask you to make a prayer for all those who are dying or suffering. And if you don't believe in God, then do something you feel will make a difference.
Is she really gone?