Living With The “Unimaginable”

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
Then push away the unimaginable…

These powerful words begin the song, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” in the amazing musical “Hamilton.” I must admit: at first, I was “too cool to like Hamilton.” But after seeing the musical here in Chicago, I was an instant fan…and quickly proceeded to download all of the songs.

Spoiler Alert: I can’t help but reveal some details about what happens…

The part when Hamilton’s son Philip died was extremely powerful for me, for I understand the pain: my eldest daughter past away from cancer in 2009. On December 30, she would have turned 20.

Then comes the song above, and I am instantly captivated. Losing a child is truly, truly a “suffering too terrible to name.” I also “held [my child] as tight you can” as she passed away, but I couldn’t “push away the unimaginable” because it was happening to me right then and there.

Sometimes, Lord,

I get tired of being strong.

Ever since then, I have been living with that “unimaginable.” Ever since then, the pain of her loss has continued to plague my heart. Most definitely, I have been blessed with so much goodness, so much ease, so much blessings. I truly cannot thank the Beloved enough.

And at the same time, the words of the song are so very true:

The moments when you’re in so deep
Feels easier to just swim down

Living with the pain of losing your child is indeed like constantly having to swim up. What’s more, because I don’t want my wife and kids to feel bad, I am always trying to be strong for them. Because I don’t want my wife and kids to feel sad over our daughter’s loss, I am always trying to be strong for them. Because I don’t want my daughter’s death to be a constant dark cloud over their lives, I am always trying to be strong for them.

But, you know what? Sometimes, Lord, I get tired of being strong. Sometimes, Lord, I don’t want to be strong any more.

It hurts. It hurts so much. And as the months and years since her death have passed, her memory becomes more and more distant. That hurts as well.

But when I take myself back there; when I take myself back to those hours before she died, the memory is overwhelming; the pain comes back full force, and it is suffocating. In those moments, it definitely “feels easier to just swim down.”

But, when I feel that way, I “push away the unimaginable,” because I need to be here for my wife and kids. I need to be strong.

Yet, whatever strength and value the lyrics of this song have for me, there is one thing in it for which I am so grateful did not apply to me:

And I pray
That never used to happen before

Thank God, that does not apply to me. Before she passed away and ever since, I have prayed to the Lord, and I continue to pray to Him. This is because:

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name

I have been living in that grace. If it wasn’t for that grace, I would not be here right now. If it wasn’t for that grace, I could have easily strayed away from my Beloved. If it wasn’t for that grace, I probably would have gone mad.

But, thank God, I am still standing, albeit in terrible pain. That “grace too powerful to name” has kept me breathing, kept me going, and it has kept me from choosing to “just swim down.”

And I can’t thank the Lord enough for that grace, and I pray that He never, ever takes it away from me.

And, my beautiful, beloved Booboo: Happy Birthday. What a beautiful 20-year-old you would have made. Baba loves you so very much.


I Know How They Feel

In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful

Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen the Disney movie “Tangled,” then know that I reveal a few parts of the film.

The moment was one of the most powerful of the film “Tangled.” The King and Queen, as they do every year, release lanterns in memory of their daughter who was lost many years before. Just before he releases the lantern, the King has his head bowed down with tears streaming down his face. His wife, the Queen, had her hands on his face, trying to comfort his pain. When I watched this scene – with my two daughters sitting next to me – I could barely breathe, and the tears would not stop.

I know exactly how the King felt. I know the horrific pain that the King had in his heart, as he remembered his beloved daughter and faced the reality that she is not with him. I know how painful that is for the King, and watching the scene really made me cry, and I fought with everything I had in my being not to let my daughters realize that – inside – I was screaming in sheer agony.

The same goes with any scene in any film that depicts a parent who has lost a child: I know exactly how they feel, and it feels absolutelyy terrible. At the end of “Tangled,” when the Lost Princess is finally reunited with her parents, I actually had to cover my mouth to prevent myself from screaming out in the theater. It gave me a glimpse of the reunion I know I will have with my daughter in the hereafter. The sheer joy of seeing her again, being with her again, and hugging her again will cause me to scream out in joy, with tears streaming down my face.

But that reunion will not come now, and that is very difficult to come to grips with.

It has been almost two years since the darkest day of my life , but the pain is still there. The agony I have is still fresh; the sadness is still acute. Yes, we have happy moments. Yes, we laugh together in our family. Yes, we try to live our lives to the fullest. But, we are not the same. Our picture will always be incomplete. Our hearts will always be scarred and deformed.

For the loss of a child is a torture unlike any other. As I said before, I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

Letter to the Beloved

In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving

Most Beautiful, Holy, and Noble Messenger of God,

May the unending Peace, Grace, Mercy, Love, Light, and Soothing Presence of the Precious Beloved Lord be upon and with you always. I send my salutations to you and my thanks for your enormous sacrifice on my behalf: so that I can know the One True Lord in all His Glory and Beauty. I am thankful, blessed, and honored to be among your followers and your community. I pray that I see your glorious face on the Day of Resurrection smiling at me, and that we are in communion with one another for all of eternity in the Light of God’s Face and Love.

Beloved Messenger, I am hurting.

By the will of God, my eldest daughter passed away almost four months ago after battling lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. It was a terrible disease, and although we did our best to fight it, the Precious Lord called his flower back to Him to thrive unscathed in His Garden, where no flower wilts and no frost will ever come. Yet, beloved Messenger, I am hurting.

It was torture to see her ravaged by the disease. It was torture to see her suffer so much pain at the hands of the cancer. And the treatment was no better: it really made her sick and it hurt her almost as much as the cancer itself. I am not, holy Messenger, complaining. But that is the way it is with cancer treatments in our day and age. Sometimes, the treatment is worse than the disease itself.

Yet, I am writing to you because I want to try to comfort myself with a little bit of your presence. How did you do it? I write as one parent to another. How did you manage to bury every one of your children except one? How did you manage the torture of seeing your child pass from existence before your eyes and then put dirt on top of his or her body? I know that I am not as you. You are stronger; you are closer to the Lord; you are His Beloved; you are my Messenger from Him.

I do not delude myself into placing myself in the same sentence, let alone realm of faith and strength, as you, O precious Messenger. Yet, you know, better than anyone else, the pain of losing a child. You know, better than anyone else, how difficult it is to watch your child die in front of your eyes. You know, better than anyone, else the torture of surviving and burying a child. How did you do it?

When I reflect upon the pain I feel, many times my thoughts drift to you, O Sweet Prince. I think about how you must have felt when your two sons, born of my beautiful Mother Khadijah, passed away before your ministry. I think about how your Noble Daughters, Ruqiyyah, Umm Kulthum, and Zaynab, also died while you were alive and tending to the faithful. I think about how you cried tears of immense pain – similar tears to my own – when you held Master Ibrahim in your arms as he passed away. In fact, Beloved Messenger, the words you uttered when Master Ibrahim went back to His Lord were very comforting to me. I thank God and you for them.

When I think of all these things, O Messenger, it brings me comfort, for I know that you have suffered much more than I. And it makes me grow in awe, and respect, and reverence, and admiration, and love for you. I am ugly while He is beautiful, and I am nothing compared to you. Yet, your life and its story have given me hope and comfort, and inspiration. You are an amazing human being, indeed truly the best of creation, and I am again honored and blessed to be in your Nation.

Messenger of God, I love you. May He grant me everlasting communion with you and your Companions, and may we meet on Judgment Day smiling at each other. Whenever my heart twinges with the enormous pain when my thoughts dwell upon my beautiful daughter as she left this world, I think about what you had to endure with your children, and I am comforted. I thank you for that, and I thank God for that first and foremost.

May God’s Eternal Peace, Grace, Love, Light, Mercy, and Blessings be upon and with you always, my beloved Messenger, and may we all be reunited with our families in everlasting Peace and Happiness.