I could hardly believe that we were on the 14th fast as I sat trying to digest the news I had received that morning. My phone had begun to ring before my alarm sounded for me to wake for suhoor. I answered with a deep dread in my heart as it was only always bad news or births being announced this early.
“Hello, is that Sam?” the clinically sounding voice asked.
“Hello, yes, this is she.”, I answered, hoping that I was wrong in my assumption.
“This is Nurse Gilead from St. Mary’s. I’m sorry to inform you that your fathers’ condition has taken a turn for the worse. We think it would be best for you and your family to come through as soon as possible.”, she said efficiently with a slight hint of compassion.
Mum lay next to me, still asleep, snoring as I grabbed her hand, almost scaring her to death. She roused herself as she saw the concern etched on my face. “Sam, what’s wrong? What’s happening?”
My tears came forth before I could talk and, I felt like a knife was being plunged into my heart as I relayed the news to Mum. I hardly gave her time to react as I barked out orders for her to get dressed so that we could get to the hospital quickly. It was cold as we dashed to find a taxi.
Mum was unusually quiet as we headed to St. Mary’s. My mind was filled with thoughts of what we were about to face. How does a child prepare for the death of a parent? Would I make it on time to speak to Dad, to tell him I loved him, that I needed his forgiveness, and for him to understand my new path was where I had found peace and contentment?
Suddenly, Mum grabbed at my hand, startling me and sending us both into a fit of laughter. And soon after, as we reached the hospital, we clung to each other as reality set in.
Security was tight at the hospital due to the pandemic. There were strict protocols in place. As we were being escorted, a male nurse roughly pulled me aside and insisted that I remove my headscarf as it was not allowed. This was not my first experience of Islamophobia, but it was under very different circumstances this time. My every fibre screamed to lash out at the man who kept referring to me as a Muslim terrorist.
Umme’s words echoed in my head: “anger does no one any good. Nabi (SAW) advised us to control our anger.” I ignored the comments and waited as we were made to sanitise and then suit up in the personal protective gear made available. Mum watched the entire episode without reacting, which was strange, but under the circumstances, I understood.
Only one person at a time was allowed into the ICU Covid Unit, which was sterile and cold. Dad looked insignificant in the large bed, hooked up to all sorts of hissing and beeping machines and tubes. We had not seen him in weeks, and he was a shadow of himself.
Mum visited for a short while before the nurse said I could go in. I had tried praying while I waited, but my mind was filled with thoughts about what I would say to Dad. Seeing my father, once vibrant and loving, being kept alive by machines was hard to accept. I was allowed only a few minutes and to hold his hand. As I spoke my heart, tears coursing down my face, I felt a sense of peace in my heart. Dad understood; he always had.
Mum and I held hands as we stood outside, looking in through the glass. It was hard saying goodbye, but I knew that my father was in Allah’s care. My prayers weren’t only for my father, as I constantly asked Allah to lead my mother to His Deen too. Fatima always said that Allah is Al-Hadi, the One who guides.
My father lost his battle that night, just as my brother was saying his goodbyes. How merciful is Allah? Mum seemed at peace. She said she knew in her heart that he was in a better place. Mark came over that evening as we had made plans to make for the funeral.
Both my families shared our grief. Fatima and Umme were supportive as Mark, Mum, and I informed relatives and tied up loose ends.
My heart was grieving, but I find solace in knowing that Allah is Al-Mumit the taker of life, for surely to him, we belong, and to him, we return.