A few months ago, a dear sister and companion of mine gave me some heart-breaking and unexpected news... her dad was very ill and had been given a few months to live. I remember when she told me, I felt somewhat numb and disturbed - why? - only once before had I been aware of someone being told that their precious time was slowly drifitng away; and that person (may Allah have mercy upon them, ameen) passed away within months. Thus to hear this again, I didn't quite know how to handle it, but for sure I was not going to let it pass me by without taking heed.
She sent me a message, over a month ago; a simple and yet profound reminder on the reality of death and the uncertainty of life. I could sense through the undertone of the message that something was not quite right... and a few days later, she sent out a message asking sisters to make du'a for her abu - her beloved dad - for he had returned to The Beloved (Swt), The Creator of the Heavens and the Earth... our Lord (Swt). I sent a message of condolence, trying very hard to be as careful as possile with my choice of words. Though she and her sister kindly accepted and thanked me for 'my continuous du'as (supplications)', 'love and support', I knew there was nothing I could have done or said to take away her pain. [sigh] What we forget is that we're all in the same boat. Each and every one of us is nearing towards our death, but whether we choose to accept it or not is another matter. The difference between us is that some have been given a wonderful gift - 'the gift of anticipation'. Though terminally ill servants of Allah (Swt) do not know the exact time or place of their death (though they're given some sort of 'indication'), they naturally begin to prepare for it, as they are constantly awaiting the inevitable. All they are reminded of its death, and though we too know we must meet the same fate, we assume ours will take place when we'r good and ready. So I ask you . . . who is most certainly better off? We or they? I read my dear companion's message on dealing with the death of her dad and as much as I tried to hold back my tears, they gushed forth like a riverbank... and she states: "My family and I knew that this day would come, we tried to prepare, but we made a mistake of preparing alone at first. Sometimes we need others to help prepare us, not just for death but the journey towards it. I read a quote, not sure where, it read “We are not living, but dying slowly”… how true, how simple yet how easy to forget. "My non Muslim friend asked me if I was angry! Never did that emotion come into my heart, although you do feel a wave of emotions filling your heart and soul, anger is not one of them. I think one of the reasons why it didn’t is because I had comfort in knowing that he has gone to a better place, there were many good signs of his end, and till this day there is still a source of comfort when I think back on those signs. All of us have to go one day, Allah saw it fit to take my daddy at this time. He gave me the best thing in the world, Allah gave me the best dad, in ways which no one but me will understand. When the time was right, when Allah knew I was able to handle it, He took my dad to the next stage of his life. My mum says it feels like he’s gone somewhere and we will see him soon. I replied and said that’s exactly what it is, he’s gone to Allah, his journey in this life has ended, but as for us, we still have travelling to do, how long that will take, we don’t know. That’s why we must take as much provisions and prepare as much as we can for death." I can't envisage what she and her family must be going through, not even an atoms weight. I have never experienced death in my family, and though sisters often think that's a great blessing - yes, masha'Allah most certainly. However, I just can't help but think "the longer you grow with people the harder it becomes to say goodbye". When that time comes, by Allah (Swt) it'll be nothing but an absolute test of faith... and one that I pray, like my dear comapnion, I'll have the courage and strength to accept for the sake of my Lord (Swt), ameen.