By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS
I am going to tell you a story. A story of loss, grief, love and newfound hope: I know these are all clichÃ©s you have heard before. But as you read on remember that this is not just a story, this is my story; If it feels like a big clichÃ© then just imagine my life as a clichÃ© altogether. But imagine it all as true, because it is. I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to bring out all the pain and confusion and smear it over these pages. I will do this because I am hoping someone will help me make sense of things that confuse me and make the situation even harder then it already is.
I am a motherâ€¦let me correct that: I was a motherâ€¦no I think itâ€™s accurate to say that I am a mother because I will always be my childâ€™s mother whether he is with me or not. I lost my son just recently. He had come into my life after a lot of wanting and hoping. He was a dream come true when he was born. Although he was born after a lot of complications and had brain damage as a result of all of it- but it didnâ€™t matter since he was my son and to me he was perfect.
Itâ€™s a weird thing love for oneâ€™s child. It makes you say and do stupid things. A person as practical and as unemotional as me would have never imagined herself thinking and doing things that I used to with my son. I remember when my husband would be out of town or would have to work late I would lay down with my son and talk to him. I would tell him all about my day and how I feel as though he understood. In return he would coo and smile and that was enough re-assurance for me. I would tell him that the whole world could leave me but as long as he was with me it wouldnâ€™t matter. No life is without ironyâ€¦now the whole world is around me as it was and he is not!
The day he passed on to his other life I was sad. But I was also relieved for him. I knew he was better off for it. And I also knew I am better off for it. I wouldnâ€™t have to go through the practice of what it takes to take care of a severely sick child. I knew I would miss him terribly but at the same there was a sense of release. I sat on the ground and prayed that day. I thanked Allah for making this decision for me and making things easier. I thanked Him for making my son Jannah bound without any efforts on our parts as parents. I thanked Him for taking my son out of the misery that he would have been in if he had lived. And once I did all that I felt better. It didnâ€™t seem like such a terrible thing after all. So, I was sad but I was not miserable. I was satisfied with the decision my Allah had made for me.
Now here is where the confusion started. People started to come and visit. They started to tell me how sorry they were for my loss. They told me that they understood how it feels (even though most of them have not lost a child). They told me they prayed to Allah to give me a better substitute. I was confused not knowing how to respondâ€¦Why were they sorry? Did they not realize he was sick and now he is comfortable in Jannah? And even if they didnâ€™t when I made them look at it that way why did they look at me like I was crazy? Also how could they possibly understand what it feels like? Why were they treating me like they knew how I should be actingâ€¦I mean is there a manual on this that I didnâ€™t get? And lastlyâ€¦a better substitute? Is that possible? I can have more kids and I am sure I will love them but will anyone ever take my sonâ€™s place? Absolutely not. My kids could be prettier than him they can be more intelligent and bright but the one thing they will never be is him. They will never be my first bornâ€¦they will not be the one with whom I experienced the most exceptional role in lifeâ€¦motherhood!
I understand that the way I handled things was different. I know I didnâ€™t cry my eyes out like everyone else. I know I didnâ€™t sit in a corner and ignore the world for weeks. I know I didnâ€™t try to gather sympathies by talking about missing my son and the pain of losing him. No, I did what came naturally to me as an intelligent and educated human being. I understood that this has come from Allah and that He does what is best. I tried to move on and tried to keep moving on with life. I didnâ€™t do this by avoiding the reality that my son is gone. I did that thinking about himâ€¦missing himâ€¦ and discussing what life would be like without him. But I realized that this is not how we are supposed to beâ€¦we are supposed to be miserable and sad regardless of what we really feel.
Here I am today months later asking you to help me with my confusion. Where did I go wrong? How is not crying constantly a crime? How is not wanting to waste my life being sad for someone who is happy wrong? How is smiling because you are imagining your son happy and playing in the gardens of heaven incorrect? Even now people think that I am either insensitive or just didnâ€™t love my son enough. This is funny to me though…I mean do they really believe that those people who were crying their eyes out loved my son more than me? Itâ€™s my own fault…when they were crying and looking at me like I am some kind of a monster for not crying I should have asked them. I should have asked them how many times during the night he woke up. I should have asked them what his favorite lullaby was. I should have asked them what it meant when he raised one of his hands to his mouth. To be honest no one but me can answer these questions I was the only one dealing with him every day. And everyone who has the audacity to tell me that I am not acting like a good mother by not crying I have something to say to themâ€¦ it wasnâ€™t your child who just like that disappeared from in front of your eyes forever. It wasnâ€™t your life that was turned upside down in the matter of minutesâ€¦so do me a favor and keep your opinions about my life to yourself because my life is not yours to poke holes in just like your life is not mine to judge!