December 11, 2011

Reflections After A Mother's Passing

Mariam and Anis Hoda are a Muslim couple living in California, USA. Since 2010, they were living with and caring for Anis' mother who suffered from Vascular Dementia. On November 28, 2011 their mother died. This post, which was originally posted on their blog My Mother and I,  is the final post in a series of interviews with Mariam and Anis on their mother's condition (See Living with My Mother's Dementia Part 1 and Living with My Mother's Dementia Part 2). Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. From Allah we come and to Allah we shall return. 

I have decided that I will not post anymore after this last post. I have kept myself busy this week after returning to work on Monday to extremely supportive co-workers, with the hope that slowly life will be back to normal. A new normal that is: a normal without mom. It can’t ever be the same normal where I could smell her, poke my nose playfully in her face and watch her laugh. I can’t ever touch her again or hear her call me to sit with her.  
I was craving something sweet and went to raid the fridge.  I saw apple sauce and without thinking took a cup out. Just when I got the spoon, it hit me that during the last stage, we used to crush pills and give it to mom with apple sauce, a trick a hospital nurse showed us.  A couple of cups had remained. I miss her.  Small things make us miss her more, whether it’s visiting the Chinese restaurant and eating walnut shrimp or making carne asada tacos.
Mom passed away early morning on Monday, November 28th, 2011. We were all with her when she gasped for her last breath and her soul left. The breathing rate had been slowing down a lot and there was no pulse for about an hour before that. She started to have gaps in her breathing which kept on getting bigger and finally, it stopped.  Papa checked her heart with his stethoscope; she was still breathing with gaps but there was no beat. After her last breath, I checked it. There was silence, a loud silence.
Islamically, the body is to be buried as soon as possible. Since we had already planned things, we were able to do the burial the same day, later that afternoon. Mariam, my sister and few other relatives gave mom her final bath. We prayed over her body, the final prayer of burial at the local mosque before proceeding to the cemetery. I got down in the grave along with my brother and two other close relatives to lay the body down. I was the last one out.  I made her slant a bit to her right so that she would face the Kaaba in Mecca. She was buried without a coffin, wrapped in white sheets. When I was moving mud around her body, my hand touched her face and could feel her nose. That was the last time I touched my mother. Soon afterwards, she was under piles of mud, on her way to eternity. After her washing, I saw her at the mortuary and she looked as if she was smiling, a slight smile, peaceful face and at ease. It’s been a while since we saw her without pain.
The support from our friends and family was overwhelming. I can’t imagine anything better. Many of mine and Mariam’s friends dropped everything, took the day off work and came over to be by our side. They took care of kids, made arrangements for “A’zza”, the reception for people to meet family and give condolences. The numerous hugs and words of encouragement, teary eyes of these macho friends of mine, it all just over took us. One of my best friend’s dads saw me at the Masjid, gave me a hug and started crying. I had to console him! I met mothers of four of my closest friends, all of them crying. These people whom I am not related to by blood were crying for my pain. They were crying because they are related to me by faith and by humanity.  We do not know how to repay them.
And thank you all for your support and for sharing our journey.
Many of those who called from all over the world could not believe that mom was no more. They broke into tears and some just cried and hung up. They couldn’t talk. Baji was gone. Who would go around in the middle of cold nights with blankets and give them out to the people sleeping in the cold on the streets of our home town in India? Who would stop us from killing even a bee? Who is going to make sure the baby of the girl who lives near our house gets milk? Who is going to teach the neighborhood girls? The list goes on and the void gets bigger.
If I was asked to summarize mom’s legacy, it would most certainly be of charity and simplicity. She lived a simple life with minimal needs and wishes. What she had was for others; she would always be giving. To help was her nature. It would melt her heart to see someone suffer. We have gotten quite a few emails from people who have benefited from this blog. Her disease, her pain became a tool for her to help others. She lives on in our hearts and the hearts of many for reasons we would never know. She is her legacy, even in death.
So long Amma… Inshallah we will see you in Jannah.
Wassalam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatu
(May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be on you)

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