How can I not consider that the incident tested on my loyalty, love and devotion to my late husband? At times when he had restless and sleepless nights, I could not ignore him by falling into deep slumber; though that's what I sometimes did. At times when he could not eat and was throwing up the contents of all that was in his stomach, I could not turn my head away in disgust but to keep on encouraging him. At times when he made visits to the doctor and was sent away only to come back another day, I could not leave the health of my beloved to be decided by those who claimed to be experts in the field of medicine (hence my persistent queries and questioning).
Yet, I remained baffled and helpless; unable to put his ailment and woes to an end. Somehow, I do not regret all those. My only (slight) regret was not being able to spend more time with him in his last 24 hours because I was too busy attending to others. However, I had managed to spend solid hours minding and caring for him in the hospital from Friday to Sunday afternoon(26th - 28th Oct 2007), giving him all the attention I could. He was given a single room all to himself and we were together all the time. I remember him looking up at me and smiling, and us holding hands together. I remember walking him to the attached bathroom, waiting by his side when he sat crouched at the sink, vomitting his heart out. When he slept on the bed, I slept on the chair; when he slept on the chair (he was always very uncomfortable and restless), I slept on the bed.
But I also remember the amount of tears that wet my cheeks that weekend, as I realised that his health was deteriorating, instead of improving. It saddened me to bits to see the man I loved so much withering and becoming very frail. At that moment of hopelessness, only faith to the Almighty helped me to move on.
I am emphasising here again that ever since my late husband was diagnosed with cancer, I never failed to perform my tahajjud prayers (take note: I never did much of this previously), repetitiously reading in the last sujud:
"O my Lord! let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honor and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honor; and grant me from Thy Presence an authority to aid (me)." Surah Isra (17) verse 80
Yes, I sought for the presence of 'an authority to aid me', and Allah gave me just that. In no time, thanks to the existence of this blog, ex-school mates, ex-colleagues of mine and late husbands', friends, relatives, fellow-bloggers and total strangers were all knocking on our door, offering assistance. How does one explain meeting a relative, unknown to be in the country, in the Emergency unit at the hospital? How does one explain the financial support which flowed into my account totaling to a generous amount, that would only make you gape and gawk in disbelief? How does one explain the offers of alternative treatment from far-away countries and even as far as China? I received unbelievable support from family back home, the local Muslim community and the local Malay community - physically, mentally and spiritually. Not to mention the prayers made in the holy month of Ramadhan by the ummah worldwide. They were all 'sent' by the Almighty as authorities to aid me. Alhamdulillah.
It is well to give when asked but it is better to give unasked, through understanding
Kahlil Gibran, 'On Giving,' The Prophet, 1923
Lebanese artist & poet in US (1883 - 1931)
Every time I think of this, I cannot stop feeling so small and weak. There was nothing I could really do, other than to turn to the Creator of all creations, and to surrender in the truest sense. Only then did I understand the meaning of tawakkal. Life can not always be planned. Unfortunately, we (especially Malaysians) are often so cautious about every step we make, often ensuring that every decision into the future must be backed up with a strong lay-out; a five-year plan or a ten-year plan (talk about visions!). I was one who succumbed to that sort of living. There's nothing wrong with planning, but once it limits your trust in the Almighty, it's a total No! No! No!
Through hardship, I believe that Allah is simply trying to make us better humans. I must also mention that in battling through the wild waves, not all who approached to help managed to do just that. Some had 'good intentions' but were overshadowed with doubts and negative vibes that actually made a very troubled me more confused and restless. With 'good intentions', sometimes people forget the main objective of living and the concept of surrendering to the Almighty. Unkind words were thrown to my face, scribbled in my comment section (in the blog), and whispered behind my backs! Whose life was it anyway?
Some accused me of being the controller - not wanting to bring my late husband back to the land called home. Some persistently offered ways and methods of travelling back home. Some became pessimists who thought of all the horrible things that could possibly happen in a foreign land - differences in mazhabs, availability of Muslim cemetery (duh??), etc. I don't mind people sharing viewpoints and concerns because it always means that there are people who care (?!), but not respecting our decisions was a bit far-fetching, don't you think?
My late husband and I shared a life full of love and respect for one another that we openly discussed and decided our lives based on rational factors that were according to the religion. So, why couldn't people accept that BOTH of us had decided to fight the battle where we were at the present time. He was unfit to travel (whatmore on a flight of 13 hours, when he could hardly bear 3 - 4 hours' car journey to Durham a month earlier) and did not even get the doctor's approval to do so. He did not want to put himself into such agony and distress. The only thing he told me was, once the doctor says I can travel, I want to go to Mecca to repent and perform my ibadah there. And on the issue of death and burial, Don't you ever transport me home - have me buried as soon as possible; let me rest in peace.
In retrospect, the main lessons I have learnt and wish to share here are:
1) To understand the concept of totally surrendering to the Almighty, without any reservations
2) To offer the sincerest help to those who may possibly be in need, without hesitation
For the umpteenth time, I extend my gratitudes to the Almighty for choosing me as the one to be tested upon, and to all who have helped in any possible way - only Allah will be able to return your kindness and good deeds in the hereafter.
This entry is just my reflection - it does not intend to belittle, mock or ridicule anyone (my apologies if it has). My intention is clear: we learn from life and should always attempt to improve it and make it better. I am still in my journey through life and I'm trying to make the best out of it by pausing and reflecting...