Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Letter to Jeddah (Grandma)

“Can I see Jeddah (Grandma) now?” I asked daddy for
the fifth time. I had been sitting in the waiting room
all morning and wanted to finally get a chance to see
her. “Jeddah is very ill Najah,” daddy said sadly,
“she needs her rest.” I sat back in my chair, staring
sadly at the floor. Jeddah’s illness had been sudden.
She was visiting in Malaysia when daddy got a call
that she was coming home right away. The doctors in
Malaysia said she was very sick and could not tell
what was making her ill.

As I sat in thought, I remembered the first time I met
Jeddah. Jeddah loved to travel. When I was born, she
was overseas with my aunties. Daddy always showed me
pictures of them. Jeddah was tall and had a kind
smile. When I could talk, I would speak to them over
the phone. I loved talking to Jeddah. She always sent
me pictures and presents from the different countries
she visited. Then one day, I got a big surprise.
Jeddah was coming back to the States, just to meet me.
I was so excited, but a little worried. “Is Jeddah
going to like me?” I asked daddy. “Of course she is,”
he laughed, “she is going to love you, just as she
already does now.”

Daddy had been right. Jeddah and I got along very
well. We did everything together, playing, gardening,
reading, shopping, and even cooking. Jeddah always
knew the right answer to everything. When there was a
problem, she knew how to fix it. My daddy and aunties
say, Allah answered her duas because she was a good
Muslim, so they always asked her to make dua when they
had problems. Once I got sick, Jeddah made dua for me,
cared and stayed with me until I got better. But now,
Jeddah is really sick, and the doctors don’t know how
to make her better.

I climbed into my daddy’s chair and curled up in his
lap. “Well, when can I see her daddy?” I asked wiping
away my tears. “Insha Allah soon baby, soon,” he
answered. A man in a white coat and a long face
entered the waiting room. “We have the results back
in, and I’m sorry to say, your mother has terminal
stage cancer. We have tried everything but her body is
not responding to treatment. All we can do now is to
make her comfortable.” Daddy lowered his head, “from
Allah we come, and to Him we return,” he whispered in
grief. With a gently pat on the back, “you may all go
in and see your mother now,” the doctor said then bade
daddy goodbye.

Daddy took my hand and led me into Jeddah’s room. Her
eyes were closed, I thought she was sleeping but when
I entered the room, she opened her eyes and smiled. In
a voice, weak and hoarse, not at all her own, she
whispered, “As Salaamu Alaikum Honey Pie, how are you
today?” A tear fell as I gazed at Jeddah, weak but
still strong. She embarrassed me with a warm, and
gently hug, the kind that only grandmothers could
give. “Don’t be afraid, baby cakes,” she whispered,
“every person must return to Allah, it is just my
time,” she smiled, gently stroking my head.
“Everything will be alright.”

The next week, Jeddah came home. Night after night,
I prayed and prayed. Jeddah always told me to pray to
Allah. But, Jeddah only got weaker and sicker. “Is
Jeddah going to die?” I tearfully whispered to Auntie
as she read Qur’an to Jeddah resting in her bed.
Auntie closed the Qur’an slowly. She picked me up and
held me tight. “It is possible, I don’t know for sure,
but Jeddah is very sick. Her body can no longer fight
the cancer.” “But I’ve been praying and praying,” I
said. Auntie smiled and kissed me on the head. She
hugged me burying my face into her scarf. “Mommy,
Allah has decreed death for everyone. We will all die
one day and return to Allah. Some people die old, some
die young. Some die healthy, while others die from
sickness. But when Allah calls one to return to Him,
no one can change it,” she said. That night I went
home, I kissed Jeddah gently on the cheek. Her breath
was slow, gentle, but weak. “Insha Allah, see you
tomorrow,” I whispered as she slept.

The next day, the sun was gray and the birds did not
sing. Daddy entered my room with tears in his eyes. He
picked me up and hugged me tight. “Jeddah has returned
to Allah.” I cried that morning, noon and night. “Why
did she have to die?” I thought. I cried and cried
some more. I missed Jeddah so much. All the times we
shared, all the fun we had, and everything she taught
me. Who would teach me now?

Days, weeks and months soon passed. I sat next to
auntie one day at the kitchen table. “Do you miss
Jeddah?” I asked. Auntie smiled. “Of course I do, and
I always will. That is why I pray and make dua for her
everyday,” she answered. “I miss her too,” I said,
“and it makes me very sad I can’t talk to her
anymore.” I laid my head on the table and closed my
eyes. Auntie put down her pen and papers, then, she
folded her hands. “You know,” she said gently, “you
can still “talk” to Jeddah. Even though Jeddah is not
here, you can keep her memory alive. What was your
favorite activity you did with Jeddah?” she asked.
“Hmm,” I thought, we did so much together and I loved
all of it. I thought long and hard. “I really liked
writing letters to Jeddah,” I smiled. “She would write
me back sometimes when she wasn’t too sick.” Auntie
smiled. “Okay then, you can still write letters to
her, even if she can’t read them.”

Write a letter to Jeddah, that seemed a bit weird but
I could give it a try anyway. In the privacy of my
room, I switched on my night light. I stared at my
paper and pen. What will I say? Where do I begin? I
lifted my pen.

Dear Jeddah,

As Salaamu Alikum Jeddah. I really miss you.

No comments: