- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
They Say Time Heals All Wounds
- 26 May - 01 Jun, 2018
I stayed at the hospital for about three days. I was allowed to go home once my condition became stable. Doctors could help me heal physically but emotional healing would take a lot of time. The journey into becoming a mother and experiencing every phase of it could not be erased by medicines or tears or even by prayer. I needed closure and I had to find my own way to it. I knew the journey would be a long one. Tiny steps, Saima. Tiny, baby steps... one day at a time. I could hear my friends tell me. Little did they know that even the slightest mention of tiny or baby took me back to ground zero in whatever context it was presented. The ache was indescribable. It was throbbing and palpable.
My mother wanted me to go with her and rest at my parents’ home till I had my energy back but I knew Fawad needed me. He couldn’t cope without me in this time of sorrow. I refused. But only before asking her to help me out with home chores and maybe cooking for the next few days. She happily acquiesced. Parents are a blessing.
Life is an experience. Being in such a difficult place was new for me. I began to notice that a grieving person gets to understand the softer side of humanity. Nurses that would generally be coarse and treat their patients matter-of-factly went out of their way to show me kindness. I felt like I didn’t deserve it, what had I done? I didn’t perform any act of heroism, I had only dealt with a rather difficult fate. But their kindness was appreciated, I craved for normalcy or anything close to it but I didn’t brush them aside or didn’t take out my pain on them. They were only trying to help. I tried to be kind in return, for I had been to hell and back. I knew.
In my weakest and most vulnerable moments I had long conversations with God, asking, crying, sometimes chiding. I wasn’t afraid of His anger, I had already suffered. I think I wasn’t due for the next phase of suffering too soon. So I let it out. I lashed out only at Him. It wasn’t fair taking it out on people. No one had come out of the shadows to take my Noor away from me. It was His decision. At times, I would become careful not to cross the line with Him though. No use tempting fate again. Worse could follow. I don’t think I had in me to bear anything worse.
When I was leaving the hospital everyone stood in silence with respect to what had happened. Everyone was dealing with the loss in their own way.
Home felt good when we finally got there. The comfort that home brought could not be compared to any other feeling in the entire world. Home. But would it ever be the same for me?
I could almost smell her presence when I walked through the front door. Maybe it was the baby powder that I spilled in my rush trying to keep it in my bag when we left for the hospital? Baby powder reminds the senses so vividly of anything baby. Hmmm... that’s tragic I thought to myself.
Fawad gently positioned me on the sofa in the lounge and went bustling about trying to get things done for me. I asked him to sit down beside me and talk to me.
He lost his child too. There were so many things going through his mind that hadn’t been addressed. At the hospital every person’s attention was riveted at me. Fawad and I didn’t get a chance to talk about what we were feeling. We needed that communication. We needed to filter out our feelings. We needed time.
Fawad remained quiet. We both wept. I finally said, “We will be ok. I don’t want us to try and forget her. Let’s try and keep her memory with us forever. We are sad now but with time we can celebrate having her in some way, if that’s possible. I don’t want to try forgetting her. That’s unfair to us and mostly to her. She was a person and she now lives in heaven. God chose to keep her with Him because He loved her too much.”
I don’t think Fawad was ready to articulate his feelings just yet but I could visibly see him relax and find solace in what I said.
Before Fawad brought me home, he made sure to clear the house of anything belonging to her. He kept it all inside the incomplete nursery and locked the door, not for good but at least for the time being. Out of sight, out of mind. The pigeon effect. But I wasn’t a pigeon.
Even though he was trying to help, I feel a great deal of healing and cessation takes place when a grieving parent takes care of these little details. I wanted to touch Noor’s clothes, the ones she never got a chance to wear. I could visualise her in them and the memory would comfort me.
But Fawad was looking out for me. I didn’t undermine his efforts. The day would come when I would feel emotionally strong enough and I would take care of these things gradually. That door will open and I will relive the sweetness of having Noor and the bitter sorrow of losing her. The evening ended with us finally falling asleep. Sleep. A brief interlude between consciousness and the unconscious. We would get some rest, for a while. An escape from reality, just for a while.
I awoke early the next morning. I thought I was still at the hospital but then I realised I was home. I stayed still for a while recollecting the past few days then rose from my bed and went into the kitchen to start preparing breakfast. Fawad had taken a few days off from the office. He was going to stay home with me for at least till the weekend.
I wanted to get back to normalcy while having him around. His presence gave me comfort and strength. I knew that without him I would crumble.
I think he heard me bustling about my business in the kitchen and woke up because of the sounds. He walked in groggily, smiling at me.
That smile. He must be feeling better.
“Why are you up?” he said with an outstretched arm trying to take away the frying pan from me as I began to cook us some eggs.
“You should be resting while I do the work.”
“Work helps me keep my mind on track. Let me do it, Fawad.” I complained almost childishly.
“You can do whatever you want when I start work again next week. For now let me pamper you some more. And besides you need to get well and strong again to take on the world.”
With that he sent me back to my room and told me that he would bring my breakfast in there in a few minutes.
His kind words all held sad undertones for me. If I had had Noor, I would be up and about taking care of her like any regular mother. I would have sleepless nights and busy mornings. My entire focus would be on her and no care for my own personal health. How the tables turn. The strange irony of life.
But I followed Fawad’s orders. I felt exhausted already, even though I had done practically nothing.
Breakfast was followed by lunch, an afternoon nap, more eating and sleeping ensued for almost the entire day. The house transformed from day to night almost in a few hours like a time lapse video. I think the medication made me increasingly groggy and lethargic. Fawad promised to ask the Doctor whether I could discontinue taking them, I wasn’t comfortable with my mind and senses shutting down like this. I needed to feel coherent and alert in my head. I had things to think about and my comatose state was not helping.
Weeping became less and a calm set it. A strange divine calm. God had his ways of giving a hard blow followed with a calm that definitely could not come from any worldly or physical place. It was God communicating directly with His beings.
Then my mind would wonder why I was tested in the first place? Why not give me what I want and let me be happy. He chose to take it away and give me this calm in return? Why?
As Fawad remained business-like throughout the day and theatrically cheery for my sake I couldn’t even share these thoughts with him. I knew it was a guise and I had to be prepared for the drop scene. It sometimes hit him hard followed by anger and shouting and sometimes it came as a rational communication, a desire to talk. Either way I had to be ready for it. I was patient. I was in no hurry. We all find closure in our own way.
I began planning the future. I decided that I would go with Fawad on his business trip. The change of surroundings would be good for us. We would have some time to sight-see and that would be therapeutic. I knew I was taking a huge leap of faith. The risk of shifting myself from comfortable, familiar surroundings, I would find myself in an unknown territory. Did I have the courage to do that now, in my frail state? Was I ready for it?
Then I would rationalise that the worse anything could happen, happened already. I was now stronger and more tolerant. This quantum leap was exactly what I needed to jog me out of depression and dare my mind into shifting.
I felt exceedingly alone. Fawad was still not ready to talk to me on this. I began to get impatient. I didn’t want to go through the movements of the day pretending that everything was fine and perfect. I was still grieving and I needed Fawad, I needed my husband.
He would suggest watching a movie or playing a board game. I wanted to open the nursery and fall asleep by her crib holding one of her stuffed animals. I wanted to let the mobile play over her crib. I wanted to touch and feel and smell her clothes. I wanted to try on her shoes, even if only my toe fit into them.
Then it happened as unexpectedly as I expected it. We had just finished dinner and I was helping Fawad clean up the table. While he did the dishes I turned on the TV and very casually asked him when we would be leaving for London and whether his office had made the confirmation. I could hear the plate slip from his hand into the sink and then nothing. Then I heard Fawad’s sobs, and I furtively walked into the kitchen. He was slumped against the kitchen counter, his body shaking uncontrollably and tears rolling off his eyes.
I hugged him and brought him to a chair. He slumped into it and put his head on the table.
“I’m sorry, Saima.” He eventually said.
“I think I was living in a bubble, avoiding the truth. But when you mentioned the trip all those pent up memories of our plans and her birth came rushing in.”
“It’s ok, Fawad. You’ve been strong for the both of us. You don’t have to be superman all the time you know. I understand.”
We had a heart to heart talk after that, on road to the healing process. We made future plans too.
At the end of it, I felt happy. I felt renewed. I didn’t feel alone again. •