There’s a saying that goes, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Love leaves a memory no one can steal.” For those of us who have lost a loved one, there’s this mutual understanding where we all know that there’s no real recovery…you just don’t recover. Rather, what you end up doing is learning to integrate their absence and memories into every part of your daily life. You learn to take all of that hurt and emotional energy and direct it towards other people. That grief that once consumed every part of you becomes a mere shadow that walks by your side.
The weirdest part of that phase after losing my mother, Allah Yerhamha, and still to this day, was how hard the pain would hit me sometimes. I’d smell something that reminded me of her, or I’d hear a voice that sounded just like hers so I’d turn around and do a double take. It came to me at random points, small crashing waves, each wave more powerful than the last one. The memories that were still there would come back every now and then and I’d forcibly sit there trying to remember what exactly was missing. It was and still is an overwhelming crushing feeling that I’d get because no matter who came in and out of my life, there could never be anyone that could replace the love of my mother.
This is a feeling that to this day I still battle with. Learning to understand how to move forward and be whole again. Learning to establish myself and what I wanted without letting my grief take over my mental health. As personal as this may seem, I’m sure many of us can relate to this in one way or another. One of the worst things to ever experience when you lose someone is starting to slowly forget things about them. Their laughs, their hugs, their wrinkles when they smile. Almost entirely, they become this quiet shadow of what they really were. You try your best and no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try or how tight you burrow your brows, you can’t picture their face so perfectly anymore. You have to constantly remind yourself of what they look like by keeping their pictures around, or watching old videos so you could hear the rhythmic sound of their voice again.
For me, it’d been just that. I’d revisit old photo albums or make sure to never change my phone or laptop display photo so I wouldn’t forget what she’d looked like. From experience, you never stop missing someone you lose to death. There would be those odd days where things wouldn’t feel heavy at all. My days would be fine and go about as normal. But then there were other days where the mere thought of her face would make me crumble in tears. That was okay though. I learned that me being who I am today and forming into the person that I knew she’d be proud of was more than enough. I had to remind myself that the best that I could do while I’m alive in this dunya is to feel like I’m living up to her memory and honouring her as she should be honoured. By mentioning her attributes and her character through blog posts, other people could now have the chance to know type of person that she was. Through my words, I could use it as an expression to make strangers feel like they already knew her so that their duas could be more sincere. I think that is the best that I had to learn to do.
You see, who we are today will speak for how we will be remembered when we pass. The attributes you showcase and how you present yourself in this world will mark the type of honor Allah Azwajjal will place for you when you meet Him. How could I continue grieving, when my mother, who held me so tightly so I wouldn’t fall while I was learning my first steps also embarked on long walks to make sure I made it to Quran class on time? How could I allow my heart to feel sorrow, when the first feature I saw on her face when she’d meet me was a smile? How could I swallow myself up through my misery, when I could instead hold my head high and implement her love into my daily life? My mother left me so much love that I absorbed and can’t wait to let out and share with everyone around me.
I remember one day in particular, she’d mentioned to me that she wanted to open a small prayer space at the local weekend marketplace. Her ideas kept flowing and she’d quickly took it upon to her to speak to the manager and ask if she could hold a space there to rent out for a prayer room. He agreed and within a few weeks she’d already bought green paint to fill the walls of the booth with color. She’d excitedly said, “Go and print out the 99 names of Allah at school on separate sheets and bring it to me so we can paste it all around the booth. We’ll make it look like a real prayer space”. It was amazing. The place was ready to be used and all of the Muslims who’d been at the marketplace would go in for prayer. They’d even call out the athaan.
Isn’t it amazing how something like an action that seems so small in her eyes will God Willing continue to benefit her even in her grave? Until this day that prayer place is open and has even been expanded. For all the prayers that people do in that room, she will also gain the reward. I could go on, and on about the amazing things that she’s done but all of these have been lessons as to what I should be working towards in my own life. I knew that her deeds reflected her beauty when she’d passed. When I’d washed her body during the janazah, we’d wrapped her around the white sheet and I stared intently at her face. The face that I’d held so many times and left a million kisses with was now filled with so much light. There was this beauty that overwhelmed me and she had this smile. How beautiful is Allah in His wisdom? He took her at a peaceful state and left her as evidence of the goodness she’d left in this dunya. In that moment, I was filled with so much emotion that she was gone but also gratitude that she’d left in a state that was pleasing to Allah Azwajjal.
With all of the pain that we feel from losing the ones that we love, I guess sometimes, closure doesn’t happen right away but instead takes many years to arrive. Once you’ve stopped searching for that peace it comes to you when you least expect it. For me there was one moment in particular where I’d been sitting on the train looking out the window and all of a sudden, I felt my mouth hugging my face. I could feel that feeling again. It finally hit me that I was happy. As the quickness of the train made the trees look like jagged, blurred streaks, suddenly everything seemed clear. I realized that I’d be okay. That sudden feeling of being completely grateful for the goodbyes that carried me to this very moment, turned into a space filled with love that my heart couldn’t wait to release.
When you talk about love and losing people, you know that, when you love someone you see the best version of yourself through them. You see that you’re becoming this beautiful, strong, courageous person. The loss of a mother is a loss like no other. It’s a loss that when you reflect, will forever remind you of that shaken feeling that once overtook you. The manifestation of love and pure nurturing care that a mother leaves is unexplainable. So cherish your time with your mother. Love her endlessly and kiss her cheeks until they’re flushed with redness. Let her know how much love and appreciation you have for her. Our mothers are beautiful gems that have been placed into our lives as blessings. I pray that your mothers are filled with happiness, noor, and lots of love. May you continue to keep them happy until you one day depart from them. May Allah bless them and May He forgive them for their faults. With that, I pray that this post is brought to you in the best of faith and hopefully inspires you to love a little more.
photo above: Mama (Allah Yerhamha) a couple hours after giving birth to me.