Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Funeral

Another cousin of mine passed away yesterday. This cousin was quite close to the family, a first cousin, my mom's brother's son,. His dad, passed away when his youngest sister was about 2 or 3 years old ( I am not sure how old he was, then). My mom once recounted the incident of her elder brother kissing his children one by one as a farewell gesture, on his death bed and told Mom to help keep an eye on his children when he is gone. So, Mom and Dad kept their word and helped to ‘keep an eye’ on all his children. So at some point in each of their lives, they came to stay with us, so as to enable them to be placed in a reputable school, since school was (and is still even till today) allocated based on a child’s location of residence. So during that period, they became a member of the family; another sibling for me. They came to stay one at a time. So during that period, when my teacher asked how many members in the family I had, I remember always quoting two extra siblings, because there was always one of them in our family and I always thought that mother’s younger foster sister was my elder sister..

What struck me most during this funeral was that while I am lamenting about God’s “failure” to answer my prayers, there before me, stood a woman, strong and stoic as she came face to face with the death of her son. She has been well acquainted with Death, who has claimed so many of her beloved's lives, beginning with her husband when she was barely 30, and then a son, due to talasemia, when he was in his teens; and later another son, from the same disease; and today the latest addition of her offspring has been invited by Death to join those who have gone before her. And I thought..it must be a lot harder for a mother to see her child precede her , yet this mother who have lost three, did not complain. She surrendered and put all her faith and fate in the hands of Almighty God. While I?????

For that reason, this funeral was the most humbling experience for me. One that taught me to be thankful for all the children that God has blessed me with, regardless of the challenges that they face, or the challenges that they pose to me. It taught me to pause before complaining about my plight, and instead to seek the opportunity to find the blessings often hidden behind every challenge and hence practice gratitude for everything that God has bestowed.. It made me realise the wealth of wisdom behind everything that He bestows regardless of whether they are in the form of challenges or blessings. And that when we trace His actions to the roots, it will inevitably lead us to a point where we understand that they are all grounded in His Love and Benificence.

I saw the procession we made to the cemetry as a farewell gesture to a loved one, because we will not meet again for a long long time. But it is not like we will never ever meet again. God has explicitly described in the Quran , that we shall eventually do so in another world. I don’t know, perhaps we had the same procession in the spirit world before we were sent into our mother's womb..but God did not permit us to remember it, or we did not then have the physical facility to store the memory of that experience. And later on in the womb, we perhaps had the same procession or ritual before we were sent out to this world called earth...and now we proceed to another realm. With this realisation, instead of the deep seated fear that I used to experience when I encountered the death of close family and friends, I felt God's love cradling me and comforting me. I felt His Love and Benificence in the way He made us grow into these different forms, to cater to the environment in the different ‘worlds’ he has created for us.

I used to seek solace in other human beings to resolve or at least dampen the fear that I have about death, but now, as God made me stand alone, with no companion to share my fears, I begin to understand that another human can never give me the solace that I seek. It is only Almighty God who can bestow that boon, and this fear can only be overcome, by feeling His presence in the form of His LOVE and by being in communication with Him.

And I know that my cousin is in the lap of God’s Love now. He was a good man. And he is in a new world tonight..And the Prophet PBUH once said that if your sins are as far and wide as the distance between this earth and the sky, believe that verily, God's Grace is far greater than that!! (I hope no one will come and say that this is a false Hadith, since i am not too scholarly to quote the source..)