My friend Huma who had been cheering me up, laughing, joking when Fasih was unwell and when she was barely 3 weeks into her husband’s death cried her heart when I talked to her last time. There are friends who call her, “Huma it’s now 3 months. I hope you must be recovering now. That is why Allah made Iddat for 4 months and not longer.”Huma: “Ilmana how do I explain to them that how can I ‘recover’ a relationship of 30 years in 3 months. I had no words for her and as usual cried as I do after putting the phone down. All I know and feel is that it aint any better for me either. Just that some days are very bad and some days are not too bad. And sometimes Fatima, Ismail and I laugh at a Papa joke, sometime we cry. And sometimes I fake smiles because ismail is constantly keeping a close watch on my facial expressions. Ismail has at least begun to express a bit now: “Ammi we already had a small family, and it became even tinier. If we didnt have Rahma’s monkey videos, how would we move on?” Why complain of others, in my own 55 years of life, I thought I had a good understanding of death, and its impact on its loved ones. But honestly I just had a clue, not the entire picture. For me the most tragic was the loss of children, small or big, for their parents. I still think this is the most traumatizing experience any human can ever go through. People do not understanding but losing a child in pregancy even if early is as traumatizing as losing a living child. Once you have created a bond and images of your unborn child, your parental instincts are awaken. Second most tragic loss I thought was of the mother of a small child. What hurt me most was the love and the care that the child misses out from the absent parent. Ofcourse sensitive parents do try to be both parents after the spouse passes away, but it is still not the same. Mother is a mother is a mother. Hence for this reason, when my kids were babies, I had prayed aloud, and made sure Fasih was also aware of it. I used to pray, “Ya Allah keep me alive till my kids are 18+ or adults.”And once they were old enough, I actually took a sigh of relief and told Fasih, “Rest of my life is now a bonus. Now if I die, feel free to get a step mother for my adult kids.” Fasih never talked about death. But I often talked about it. I wanted him to know that now children are adults, if I ever die suddenly what would he do with my possessions. Even this time when Fasih was here, in May 2020 I gave him a slip of my bank accounts and locker and that that he was willed to take them if I go. Whenever I had palpatations, although they are benign, first and only person I messaged was him. So that if I ever go away, he would know what happened to me the last hours of my life. In a joke, last time, I even told him who I thought was fit to marry him if I was gone. Ofcourse that will remain a secret now buried with me, though I shared with Fatima who that beautiful person is. And Fasih just laughed and remarked, “Tum drama zaroor kerna. Merna werna nahin hai tumko.” Then he got serious, “You must try to take care of your health. You dont even go for annual physical tests.” In all likelihoods, the way we were carrying ourselves, I always thought I would be the lucky person to go first. In all these years, one thing that I did not have any clue was how hurtful it is to lose a loving spouse, How lonely does one become. How suddenly as if you are released from the beautiful bond where the other person kept a tab on your minute to minute wellbeing. No matter how loving or caring children, or siblings are, they cannot replace a spouse. Not one day did Fasih not remind me, “Apni thyroid meds le rahi ho?” and how I nagged him, “Vit D levels check kerwaao.”I feel very guilty now that when Papa passed away in 1998 I was too shaken and in grief of my own loss, that I did not really feel it was a bigger loss for Ammi. I feel terrible, Probaby she consoled me like a mother, more than I consoled her on the loss of her spouse. I am sorry Ammi. I wish I was more sensitive to you. So learning it that hard way, I now believe, loss of a spouse is no less devastating. All relationships can move on with normal lives, but its the parents who have lost a child, and the spouse who is left alone, is the hardest to move on. Every day is a new lesson learned for me. And am sure is the same for each one of us here. To those who count grief in days or months, all I can say is: Do aur do ka jorh hamesha chaar kahan hota hai, Soch samajh waalon ko thori nadaani dey Maula.
Below is a beautiful picture of my beautiful mother, who was more supportive to me after loss of our father, than we were to her on the loss of her spouse. Ofcourse I exclude my brother Subhi from this guilt as I know how he has shadowed Ammi ever since, and looked after her as if she was his baby