Friday, November 24, 2006

Death is certain

It wasn't the first time that I had to deal with an emergency @ the Hospital for Sick Children as the Muslim Chaplain Assistant. But it's one of those incidents that you can never forget. Subhanallah. May Allah (swt) protect us, and give us good health. Life's trial can be very extreme for some people. And can change their lives forever.
And I hope that I never forget it.
The last thing I was expecting within a week of Eid was an emergency @ the hospital. My friends and I had just finished giving out some gifts to the kids in the hospital, when one of them expressed that she'd like to go home...
"But there's one more baby to visit...", I said. This was on Sunday afternoon, after Eid... on October 29th. But she expressed that she was tired, and wanted to go home and change.
I walked by myself to the NICU, thinking about what to say. I wasn't quite prepared- I didn't know the family, or the case, all that I had done was dropped off the baby's gift with the nurse on the day of Eid.
I explained who I was, and the nurse let me know. I was familiar with this ward... so many machines... the family care room, the incubators, my first emergency case earlier in the year... Subhanallah, I felt scared. The nurses of the baby were very confused to see me.
"How did you know?"
"Know what?"
"That we're going to remove the feeding tube?"
My heart skipped a beat. Here I was, to see the beautiful baby, and to wish the family Eid Mubarak, and spend some good time with them, and the nurses tell me that the baby is going to die really soon! I really wasn't prepared for this. Incidentally, I didn't have my Qur'an on me, or my reference book either. The next few hours, as I witnessed the tragedy the family went through, my mind was so confused. I felt very lonely, and at a loss for words. I'm not even sure if I asked Allah (swt) for strength. And personally, that time in my life was so difficult, I was being lashed out at like a leaf in an angry storm.
"A chaplain! You must be sent by God". And the other nurse repeated the same.
When the whole ordeal was over, I realised definitely I was sent by Allah (swt), to learn some very important lessons of life.
The nurses updated me on the case. It was really sad. The mother only spoke Urdu, and thankfully that's one of the languages I speak. The baby was about a month old, a girl and she could not survive on her own due to a congenital defect.
I sat with the mother for a long time. She didn't look much older than me, but had 3 other children, who were watching TV next to us. I can't imagine how it must have been for them to spend their days like this @ the hospital. Her husband was on EI. They didn't have any relatives. She said some things to me, that really made me reflect.
"Why did Allah give her to me, if He had to take her away?"

Yes, why does Allah (swt) give us people we love in our lives and then take them away, whether it's because of a death, a separation, divorce, misunderstanding?

The nurses would come every now and then, to take the baby away from her. Of course, one of the nurse said, "there's never a good time. Waiting is not going to help much".
I looked at the mother in front of me, a tiny figure, her face wet with tears, her scarf and clothes all ruffled- she had the baby in her arms.
So much love, I thought to myself. Even though the baby is deformed, and has caused the entire family to spend the month in the hospital. Her hands and feet were deformed and twisted. But her face was so beautiful... They loved her so much that they wanted this little life to live, even though she wasn't perfect... Just pure, simple, beautiful love.

"They've been asking me to give her to them. How can I do that? How can a mother do that?"

I didn't realise what a profound action it would be for the mother. Basically you're giving your own daughter, whom you delivered from your womb, with a lot of pain, to death. They would take off her tubes, and that would be the end of her life. But wasn't it Musa's mother, who cast him into the river in a basket? And all the strong women of the past, who made greater sacrifices? Mother's are tested the most in this world. Look at all the mothers in Iraq and Palestine.
Her husband was so supportive. I had to contain myself, and be strong for all of them. He said, "she was only meant to be with us for this short time. Say Allah's name and let her go".
I recited Yasin softly. They waited for me until I was done with my duas.

May Allah bless Musarrat and Aunty... they showed up a bit later, and were an awesome awesome support. Musarrat made sure all the children had food, and she even cleaned up everything. She sat with the mother and hugged her, and comforted her a lot.
In front of me, I witnessed an action so powerful and compassionate- what one Muslim does for another truly for the sake of Allah (swt). And there are people in this world who find it so easy to be unjust.
It was getting late in the night.
I did go home, but the nurse called me back saying the mother really needed support. I got onto the bike, and was back @ the hospital.
The baby had died. I spoke with the two boys. Mashallah, what strong young little boys, the oldest being in grade 8. They had sober expressions on their face. I can't believe these kids were witnessing something like this @ such a young age. For sure this would shoot up their maturity, and change their perception of life. I wished that I could've talked to the 2 boys longer.

The nurses informed me that they better take the baby away soon, because she's going to turn blue, cold and hard, and it's not good for the parents to have that as the last memory. And true, in front of me, the baby had begun to turn blue. Her brother touched her and said she was very cold. Yet, she was wrapped in blankets, and her soft, silky hair were slightly visible. Her mother looked stunned, she was quiet, and crying silently. Her husband sat on the chair next to her.
A while later, I started a conversation. She said, "I was convinced Allah would cure her. In Pakistan my relatives said that the doctors have been able to cure several such cases".
What do you do when your conviction in something fails you? It's the affair of the believer. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "Strange is the affair of the mu'min (the believer). Verily, all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the mu'min." But if it were in the hands of the doctor... this world doesn't work this way.
I couldn't stress enough how important it was for the mother to be patient through this. I repeated again and again, and again. For there's nothing better than beautiful patience.
I'll stop the narration here.
That day I realised that, anything can happen to anyone, and at any time. Doesn't matter if you're rich or poor. If you have a lot of iman or not. Allah will surely test you. You will be hurled around in this world. You will be forced to hold on to hope. And sometimes, you'll have to let go of hope. But your troubles will never be greater than the ones of the one in front of you, and you can never fully understand what the one in front of you goes through. Your deeds are your own deeds. Your pain is your own pain. And this is just a temporarily world, and Allah's promise is true.

Related link: Chaplaincy-The beginnings


Anonymous said...

Did u train others to take ur place, any1 else helping out now

Anonymous said...

My aunt - yea, my mom's sis, her oldest son was born around the time his grand father (my uncle's dad) passed away. And of course, his grand mother used to be down all the time. I'm not sure how, but she got really attached to my cousin - i guess being busy with him really helped her forget her sorrows. My aunt gave him away to her m-i-l. She was very patient, very forebearing - even today - prolly after 25-27 years, I haven't heard her complain once. Think about it - it's her first kid - her son - literally a part of her - and she's been (even) non-verbally asked to let her son go. He used to live with his grand mother until he was, I think, 20 or so. He used to visit his parents once. Imagine, visiting your own parents?! My aunt might always craved to spend more time with her son, always wanted to be more involved in his life, share his happiness, and share his sorrows!

When his grand mother passed away, he moved back with his mom. Now they live together and sometimes I wonder how strange it might feel.

May Allah reward her for her sacrifice, and bless her son with the happiness in this world and hereafter.

(i'll become a lil' selfish now: May Allah also bless my aunt's youngest (to-be) daughter in law. May Allah help in fulfilling her duties, as a daughter, a daughter in law, a sister, a wife, a siser in law, and all her relations, ameen)