Finding Courage

 

Bismihi Ta’ala

Khawlah

Life is unpredictable. And then it’s amazing. At times deliberately unbearable. And then it’s amazing again. And in between it all, it’s ordinary and mundane, and all sorts of crazy, but we trudge through it because we know that at some point the moments of amazement will find their way to us once again.

The thing with life is that we always make everything about it super important. Whether it’s our jobs or our work or what we’re cooking for dinner… everything is majorly important until something more important comes to light. And that’s when you realize that it was the only thing that’s really important. Your health. Above all else. When sickness makes a show… that’s when we see how we borrowed from the bank of our health taking loans of stress and sleepless nights to pay for the things that don’t really matter… but when it’s gone, well, it changes everything.

And the thing is, it wasn’t easy when we’re tested. Because that’s exactly what it is. Our health and our wealth and the people that we love. It wasn’t easy to be strong and keep the faith through the tests. It wasn’t easy to keep believing and understanding that whether good or bad, everything only came from Allah Aza Wajal. We needed constant inspiration. Reminders. A continuous flow of unchanging Tawakkul that helped us to get through it.

When I looked back though, I realized that I was truly lucky. Whether it was Aunty Radiyyah, Zuleikha or Nusaybah… whether it was a Bayaan that someone sent me or a Wazifah that I had been told to read… I owed them the world for every piece of advice or motivation then so willingly offer to keep me going. It gave me courage. Hope. Perseverance. Because whether we find ourselves in extreme difficulty of whether we fall into complacency, we all need something to shake us up and remind us about Allah’s grand master plan. We all need to be reminded…

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

And as I looked at my friend with the very strength that I had acquired through her channel of love, she was obviously not buying my assurances.

”I’m perfect,” I responded, not really meaning it. There was just too much that had happened that was playing on my mind and I I knew I couldn’t hide from my friend.

I turned my face away as she narrowed her eyes at me and the smell of her Nik Naks hit my nose. For some reason I was beginning to resent the cheesy smell of  Nusaybah’s favorite chips. The main problem was that my dear friend seemed to be in love with them and overdosing on them during our study sessions.

”Listen Missy,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest and raising her eyebrows at me. “There’s only one Mr Perfect and the names not up for grabs… even if you do happen to be married to him. Spill it. Is he okay?”

“He’s perfect,” I said blandly, amused at the irony.

Mr Perfect was no longer perfect.  There might be some adjusting there for my dear friend. I looked back at my her, knowing that she was just concerned about me. To tell the truth, I was a bit concerned too.

I looked at my friend as she watched me, swallowing hard to suppress the tears.

“You have courage, Khawlah,” she whispered. “More than anyone I know. Pour your heart out on that Musallah if you can’t to me, and Allah will surely answer your Du’aa. I know you’re scared but I can almost see that hijabi-warrior mode switched on in your brain and I don’t know how you do it…“

Her eyes searched mine fervently as a single tear rolled down my cheek. I shrugged as I met my friends eyes, not really knowing how to answer.

Tawakkul, right? It was like a superpower. And as I sat and prayed that night, trying my utmost to plead with Allah through prayer and perseverence it was almost like I could feel my Lord reaching out for my hand.

Tawakkul. Sometimes we had to just pull it out and wear it over our clothes, even where we’re burning inside. After a while… the courage from within finds its way to the surface, knowing it has to pull us through.

I sat there, wondering what it was about life that made it all seem so surreal at times. I could barely believe that it had already been just over two weeks that the spinal tumour was confirmed and there were no words to describe the turmoil that had been engulfing me just at the onset of my final period of examination. The timing was completely unprecedented. Aadam’s uncle had explained that the tumour was an aggressive type and surgery wasn’t possible.

Somehow, through all the tests after the fall, they had missed this. This one crucial problem that would cost us so much. Maybe even his life. And yes, we could be angry but it was no-ones fault. How can we question Allah’s will? It was meant to be. The oncologists had been concerned about the Myeloma and it’s revelation had diverted them from the other signs of Aadam’s underlying condition. Usually patients were given time to consider all the pros and cons but Uncle Siraj had briefly and sternly said that he strongly recommended that Aadam start immediately. In a way, I was relieved to find out about it.

As terrible as it was, a certain amount of consolation accompanied the palpable fear. At long last… I was relieved that there was a reason for all the pain and discomfort. Relieved now that it wasn’t undiagnosed. Relieved that Aadam had finally consented to attempt some medical treatment… despite being so stubborn about it in the initial stages.

He would go to the hospital every day for a few hours and come back by the late afternoon, at most times, utterly exhausted. I had asked him multiple times about how he was coping but he never spoke about it and I had realized that it was something that he didn’t want to delve into. Whether he thought of it as tedious information or some kind of shortcoming on his side… I wasn’t sure, but I respected his wishes and let it be. We lived in a world where hope was our weapon and Tawakkul would see us through. My thoughts drifted back to the day before when everything had became starker than we ever wanted to see it…

“Drink this.”

I could see Aadam shifting uncomfortably in his seat as he looked back at my mother-in-law with his one raised eyebrow.

He studied the glass carefully.

”I don’t see anything floating in here,” he said with a tiny grin, despite his apparent weakness on that particular day. “Is it safe?”

”Of course!” She said, hands on her hips. “It’s only water.”

”Water that she’s made ‘phoook’ in about 25 times,” Rubeena mumbled to herself from behind us.

I grinned as I heard my sister-in-law’s voice, not expecting to bump into her here today. She had probably wanted to see Aadam before the big night. I smiled as I remembered how my mother-in-law was going on two weeks back about a lady who she was convinced was after her family, and was now going all out to protect them with her reading of various Amal, thankfully approved by Ma.

I turned slightly to smile at Ruby in mutual understanding, not expecting to almost do a double take as I glimpsed her lightly made-up face that seemed to be glowing from within. I was a little in awe as I looked at here, shocked that she looked so different today. Calm. Composed. Serene.

Being naturally pretty, she never did wear much makeup, but today’s subtle application was done just beautifully, to suit her completely natural demeanor. To accompany it, she had tastefully matched it with a beautiful pastel dress with a simple floral print that suited her perfectly. Of course, her abaya was thrown over the chair to cover the slightly fitted dress, until later on when she would be having her first meeting with her new husband…

”Wow, Rubes,” Aadam said, giving her a raised eyebrow. “You look like you’re going for a wedding or something …”

Never mind it was her own Nikah. That was just by the way…

And as I watched her chatting quietly to my husband, I couldn’t help but think that maybe Ahmed was a luckier guy than he had thought. i just couldn’t help but feel sorry for Rubeena who would have to deal with my clinically unexpressive brother well… for the rest of her life.

Of course, having first found about the Nikah two weeks ago was a bit of a shock for me, but not completely unexpected.

It took some processing but it was amazing to see that as I warmed up to the idea and truly became excited, I realized that this was the happiest I’d seen any of them. Rubeena was glowing. Ahmed was literally on top of the world. The best part was that the boys were equally excited when they realized who their new father figure would be. Surprisingly, Ahmed wasn’t as terrible with boy kids as I thought he’d be. 

And just as I was about to tell her how stunning I thought she looked, before I could get a word in, between us suddenly stepped my mother-in-law who was on a solid mission, relentlessly splashing drops of Aadam’s ‘phook’ water on her from all directions. She looked like some sort of weird sprinkler system.

I could see Rubeena’s expression change from peacefully composed to annoyingly exasperated in literally three seconds. I had a feeling that her serene composure was dangerously close to disintegration and I stifled my grin as I watched them both.

”Ma, please stop,” she said, rolling her eyes as she tried to avoid the droplets splattering her face. I could understand how annoying it must have been, but my mother-in-law was hearing none of it.

Ma!” She almost yelled now as her mother continued, holding up her hands. “My make up! You’re spoiling it!”

“You rather spoil your make up now than spoil your marriage later!” My mother-in-law almost barked at her. ”If only you know how people can be. Selfish and jealous. Anything they see, they look with bad eyes and then you’ll find yourself falling flat on your face even when you’re sleeping! You have no idea, Rubeena!”

I wanted to giggle, but I pursed my lips to conceal it. I got what she was saying. I knew that there was the evil eye and people who do weird things when they’re jealous and a little bit messed up in their heads… but that being said… like Rubeena, I also shared the notion that she was being a little over the top. Sometimes the bad things that happen to us are tests. Sometimes we needed to understand that Allah places these tests in our way for us to turn to Him…

And as the two of them argued inconclusively and finally left the room to fetch the boys and get them ready for the big night too, I smiled to myself, thinking about how sometimes things just work out so perfectly. I could see the relief on Aadam’s face when everything had fell into place for Rubeena the week before. When I hadn’t put up a fight with him about what I had always thought would be the worst move ever…

Surprisingly, Shabeer too didn’t stand much of a chance with trying to convince Rubeena to reconsider.

I snuck a look at my husband that evening, noticing his eyes serenely closed. I could see that today wasn’t a good day and I missed his usual banter. The thing was, the more serious Aadam’s condition became, the busier the house seemed to be getting. It also meant that he got more tired, and faster. We didn’t have much time alone. There were people who were coming to visit him that I’d never heard of before, apologizing for not coming earlier because they didn’t know. Now that Aadam’s cancer was out in the open, I supposed the reality was also hitting much harder on my heart…

And as I glanced at him, and then busied myself with clearing up some scattered cups that were lying around, I barely even noticed Aadam shifting around uncomfortably behind me and then suddenly sitting up and sprinting to the bathroom in haste, promptly retching his poor guts out as I listened in shock from the outside.

My heart was hammering in my chest as I heard it. It sounded horrific. His breath was raspy and his heavy breathing was audible even from outside. I couldn’t help but shudder at the noise of his gagging as I pushed the door open, then watched him dabbing his mouth with a face towel, not meeting my eye as I witnessed him at his worst state yet. Yes, he was fatally ill but the reality never really hit me because I had never seen him this way. 

”Sweets,” he said softly, not looking up at me yet. There was a slight quiver in his voice as he spoke. “I don’t know if I can do this today. I mean, I can’t. I can’t find the strength… the strength to drag myself out of this room… but I know that I need to…”

He sounded desperate as I watched him, searching for the familiar signs of humour in his eyes as he said it… but today, there was nothing. Today he was hollow. Inside and out. When your body can’t make the cut, there’s really nothing else that can be done. I wasn’t sure if I could even accept what he was saying. Aadam never complained. It was the first time he’d ever showed pain. Weakness. It was the first time he was showing any sign of defeat.

He leaned over the sink and looked at me from the side of his eye, almost as if he was beyond repair.

”I can’t do this,” he said again, his voice dropping as he looked at me. “I can’t.”

If only he could see the sins falling from him for every ache and pain that he had so patiently endured…

I shook my head at him, not knowing what to tell him. Everything that I had known and loved about him had been sucked out of him by this illness. Every hope that he had had was extinguished. I could feel my heart hammering as I watched him, taking a step closer and pulling him toward me as he sunk his head into my shoulder, involuntary heaving as he let it all out, finally realizing that his strength was not meant to bear so many mountains.

I helped him to the couch, sitting next to him as he gained his strength. I ran my fingers over the stubble on his neck, taking in the familiar scent of him as he pulled me towards him. 

It was amazing how Allah put empathy and patience in between hearts to pull us through the most trying times. It wasn’t like this was a a familiar feeling for us. This kind of feeling was foreign. Unexpected. Completely beyond anything I had felt before. This was above the romance and passion and intensity that had engulfed us over the few weeks that Aadam was still ‘okay’. Right then was something beyond superficial. It was when understanding and compassion and love were the founding factors. It was a calling to show him the beauty of the strength that Allah had most definitely given him to get through this. It was when I had to remind him that you can’t throw in the towel on something that Allah had placed in his path, despite how deeply you may be hurting inside.

Sometimes it was in those moments of weakness and vulnerability that we truly seek what we’re looking for. Sometimes when we think we’ve lost it all, it’s the very time that we find our greatest treasure.

”Aadam,” I said to him, holding his hand tighter as I spoke. “Listen to me. This is not forever. You will feel better. You may be hurting… but you will be okay. Yes, you’re allowed to have moments of weakness but let me just remind you that you aren’t defined by this. You are stronger than this and you will find the courage because this is what Allah promises. He promises us that we will never be given more than we can bear and one thing I know and have learnt over the years is that Allah’s promise always holds true…”

His dark eyes were still searching mine for answers as he looked back at me. 

“How is this even fair?” He asked, shaking his head.

I looked at him as he said it, obviously not having any words to answer him. We were never promised that this life would be fair. We were never given a promise of justice and recompense for this temporary abode. If only we could see what awaited us after… when we walk in our eternal home… then we’d truly understand.

“I mean,” he continued, looking up at me with the shadow of a smile. “That I have you. I took a little chance on an investment that I made and look how I’ve been repaid. Overpaid. Like I don’t even understand it… because all I am is a smelly sick guy who married a girl who blew me away and somehow I scored the gold…”

I couldn’t help but grin as I looked at him, glad to see the going of humor in his eye again.

”You’re not smelly,” I said to him. His lashes were darker than ever today for some reason, and his one dimple flashed at me as he smiled. “You always smell amazing…”

“If vomit and dettol is your flavor,” he said wryly. “Maybe I should puke around you more often. Like really go all out. Maybe even puke on you. Might do me wonders, yeah?”

”And yet another talent of yours,” I said, trying not to smile. ”I love that you do everything with so much of passion…. always going the extra mile…”

“Really?!” He said, raising his eyebrow playfully. “You think I have skill?! Wow.”

I nodded.

”You do,” I said with a sweet smile. “But you know which talent I love the most?”

Aadam cocked his head and looked at me pensively.

“Please do go on,” he said innocently.

“Most of all,” I said slowly, building up some momentum as he eyed me out cynically and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Most of all… I love that weird eyebrow of yours,” I said with a giggle. “It’s the cherry on the top!”

And just as I stuck my tongue out at his anti-climatic moan in good humor, it was at that precise moment that the shrill noise of the buzzer erratically sounded.

“My eyebrow?!” He asked, shaking his head. “Come on! This calls for a re-election.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said with a laugh. ”Let me get the door.”

”If it’s my mother, tell her I’m on a hunger strike…” he called after me.

I shook my head at him as I made my way to the door, tightening my hijab and stopping to unlatch it without really thinking about the possibilities of who would be outside.

To tell the truth, I expected one of Aadam’s or my family members. I expected a friend or someone who might have worked with him. What I didn’t expect to see was the striking female doctor that I had met at the hospital those few months back, looking at me with a slightly hopeful expression and a certain reservation in her eyes.

I could already sense her hesitation and as I spotted the little girl on her hip… my mind already racing with all types of possibilities that I had never imagined before.

Yes, life was unpredictable. Amazing. At times, unbearable… but in between it all, it’s all sorts of crazy that bring you back to the reason you were put here in the first place.

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Sometimes life unfolds in sinister ways to show you what the most important things in them really are. And sometimes the worst of situations can be the very instance when we find the greatest treasure of all…


Dearest Readers 

Apologies about the delays. I know I’m pushing it but I had a few patients in my house the past week and it still hasn’t ended!   Am aspiring to be more punctual InshaAllah #goals 

Duaas always needed 

Much Love

A xx

Duaa at the onset of Rajab, do recite.
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Don’t forget our Sunnah Revival!


Favorite foods of the Prophet (SAW): Pumpkin and Barley. All we have to do is make an intention for Sunnah and we’ll get multiple rewards! 

Anas RA said: “I went along with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) barley bread and soup containing pumpkin and dried sliced meat. And I saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) going after the pumpkin round the dish, so I have always liked pumpkins since that day.” (Abu Dawud 3782)

A forgotten Sunnah. Eaten fallen particles… Sometimes we forget the Barakah that can be in even a grain of food. To eat what has fallen on the cloth or even the floor… SubhaanAllah.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034). 

#revivetheSunnahofMiswaak 

#revivetheSunnahofAkhlaaq 

#revivetheSunnahofKinship

#revivetheSunnahofhonouringguests

 

#revivetheSunnahofdrinkingwater 

#revivetheSunnahofeating 

#revivetheSunnahDuaas

Twitter: @ajourneyjournal

12 thoughts on “Finding Courage

  1. The lessons in this post was beautiful Masha’Allah !!
    Can’t get enough !
    It’s happening for Ahmed and Rubeena ☺️
    And once again that nail biting suspense 🙈

    Jazakillah Khair for the post 💕

    Liked by 3 people

  2. ما شاء الله
    Loved the post especially all the beautiful lessons…
    Enjoyed the ‘phook’ water part lol…
    Wish I had a Khawlah and Nusaybah in my life with so much tawakkul in Allaah…

    And she’s for it again….
    2 Cliffhangers in a row….

    Liked by 3 people

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