Losing a parent is something only people who have lost a parent can understand. The guilt and the grief that come with it are unfathomable. The bad news is that no one can ever get over this loss, not in a year, two, or a lifetime. It stays, it comes at the strangest times- a memory, a hint of a smell in the air, bits of a song from an adjacent car. Sometimes you brush it off, and go on with the busy life -because life didn’t even have mercy on you, to give you time to break down, to collapse and cry till there are no more tears, and to just be sad and heartbroken- and some other times you process your feelings in disbelief, you try to make sense of what has happened, just to reach nowhere. One day they were here, you could physically touch them, hear them, see them, kiss and hug them. You could throw jokes in the air, and hear their laughter fill the place, you could see how they frown when they try to remember something, how they pause between sentences, to breathe, and to make you anticipate what they will say, how they ran their long fingers on their beard when they weren’t happy about something, and many many other tiny details that make a person so very special. Another day those tiny details become faded memories, and the person becomes… nothing.. gone.. you will never see them again, never hear them again, never notice the smallest details about them, because they are dead.
As Ramadan blesses us with its serenity and spirituality, the memory of my beloved father becomes stronger and more persistent. He died over a year ago, so suddenly that I still sometime think that it was all a nightmare, a really bad and scary one! A year and 3 months, since he peacefully gave his soul to His Creator, leaving us, his family, shattered and heart-broken.
Special occasions, like birthdays, Eids, and Ramadans are not easy for us -us who have lost a parent. These beautiful celebrations of life, leave us torn between the desire to live and be happy, and between the sorrow felt to not share them with your loved ones who are long gone.
As a child, every Ramadan, I was the one in charge of preparing my Dad’s dates, and water, so he can take them with him to the mosque and break his fast there. As I hand them to him, he would say sweet little prayers for me, as I smile and say “Ameen”. Everyday I would wait for him at the door after the Maghrib prayer to eat Iftar, he would smile at me, hold my hand and guide me to the table. Everyday I would have tea with him before we go to Taraweeh, he was proud of me, and he didn’t hide it. Then, which feels like an eternity ago, I thought nothing of all these sweet little things, but now…. It’s a whole different story.
He used to make the best strawberry milkshakes EVER, so this Ramadan, to ease my pain, I decided to make some for myself…well the strawberry milkshake I made didn’t taste the same, so I left it untouched, afraid it might erase the memories I have of my dad’s special ones. You see, my dad was the sweetest man on earth, he loved unconditionally, and did everything he did with so so much love, and it breaks my heart to remember that I will never feel, or touch this great love again. Only through sweet yet painful memories that my father will be with me.. and it’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp. So to those who have lost a parent, today I say a prayer for you –and for me- May You Always have the strength to dance through life, with that agonizing, and permanent limp.