Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Grief and Loss

2013 has not been a kind year to me. It claimed the two people who taught me most about love and compassion in my childhood. In January, I lost the man who raised me; and in December, I lost Auntie Anne, the lady who ignited my love for English and the only person who ever read me bedtime stories as a child. After her death, her daughters, my uncle and I found solace in each other’s company. 
But my grandfather’s death; now that was a different story. 
The post I'm sharing today was written after I came back from his burial, in fragments, on tattered sheets of paper. Every time I sit down to write, this unshared piece casts its shadows over me and almost paralyses me. I want it to stop lurking in the shadows and therefore I’m setting it free. Out in the open. As a final step in my grieving process. Today, one year and one month and eight days after his death, I still miss him and always will. So here it goes... 

Friday, January 25th, 2013 

This morning, we took our last ride together—my surrogate daddy and I. I rode with him to his grave. He was “sitting” in the back. And he never liked to sit in the back. It made me cry. 
He was a pilot and a chief and always in charge. He didn’t like to sit in the back. Ever since I was three years old, I was his second in command. 
Car rides were quintessential parts of our lives. For years, he drove me everywhere—mostly against my wishes—but the fun part was tagging along for the errands and the family visits and the road trips. 
Whenever I asked for his permission to learn how to drive, he used to tell me, “you’re my co-pilot! You learn by watching.” 
He died last night, without ever officially promoting me.
If I say that I am overwhelmed with grief, it’d be just another cliché, and an understatement. I am not overwhelmed; I am drowning in sorrow, literally choking on my tears. 

The longing to hear his laugh echo through in the car tore my heart apart. He was the most joyful person in the family. We lost happiness when we lost him. 

We rode together, him in a box in and me in black, both silent yet connecting. They'd wrapped him up in white cloth, and his face was covered—for eternity. I am never again to see his smile, never. I am never again to hear him laugh. This is somehow a fact that I have to live with for the rest of my life.  

I, the unwanted child of parents who got married way too early, was welcomed into the world only by him, the only parent I had ever known. 
My grandfather and Amira, my grandmother. 

He was only 41 when I was born, young enough to be my father himself. He who’d lost his wife, my grandmother Amira whom I was named after, at the young age of twenty-three and never remarried. He was a fountain of love, kindness, and tenderness—even when he was tough. And he is no longer here. 

I am in physical pain. My stomach is tied up into countless knots; my heart is beating its way out of my chest; and my lungs are constricted, compressed as if to refuse filling up with air. 
“El bakaa lillah” is one of traditional Egyptian/Arabic condolences formula. It roughly translates to “Only God is eternal/everlasting.” 
The trouble is, every time someone said that to me, it made me furious!  I wanted to scream. 
Yes, I know we are all mortal but how does that help me?  Why does no one care about my feelings, my pain, my grief? Why can’t anyone just simply wrap their arms around me, hug me tight and let me cry? A chance to mourn, to feel my loss, is all I need. 
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