Back in the old board, I remember reading Sr Kathy's post on her experience and thoughts when she went through the "bathing" of the janazah of a sister she knew. I thought she wrote beautifully and her insights and advices were certainly very thought-provoking. Still, at the back of my mind was always the doubt as to whether I would be strong enough to go through with it when a loved one pass away. That was before my late mother was stricken with the relapsed cancer.
The painful day came and I had 6 hours to contemplate and decide whether I wanted to go through with the motion of performing cleansing and ablutions for my late mom. It was difficult. I guess my biggest hurdle would be my fear that it would be too much for me to handle and that I would break down, thus rendering my presence useless, let alone humiliating.
Still, when the sisters in charge of performing the rites came and asked who the deceased's daughter was, I knew I couldn't fail my late mom. I am her only daughter, I am the sole witness that she was being prepared properly for her final journey to meet Allah SWT. I took a deep breath, strengthened my resolve and told them I was ready.
I am glad I made that decision. Subhanallah, the experience was humbling, poignant, painful and beautiful, all at the same time. Washing her hair, with her lying inert and serene, I imagined how it must have been like for her, holding a baby-me in her arms all those years ago, gently and tenderly washing my innocent head, reciting verses all the while, so I will grow up true and good. No matter how lovingly I wash the soap off her hair, I know it wouldn't measure up to the loving caress she gave me, with each stroke a promise to care and protect me. I was also reminded of the times she would hold my eldest born, her first grandchild, as she kissed him and splash water lovingly all over his trusting body. I tried so hard to swallow my sobs, tried so hard to prevent my tears from spilling over, not wanting to begrudge her this process of preparing herself to meet her Creator. I never knew that it would be the most difficult thing I have had to do.
As we draped her body with the white cloths, I was so close to throwing myself on her and pleading with her to wake up, to tell me she would be here for me, like before, like always. Telling me that my time with her has not ended. I guess it is because she looked so peaceful and beautiful, that one could almost believe that she was just sleeping. Looking at her in all her purity, dressed all in white to journey to Allah SWT, it reminded me of the morning she was preparing to go for hajj. She did her ablutions and read her du'ahs and she wore the white jubah specially tailored for the pilgrims. She was so excited, telling me that she was so happy wearing them, that her dreams were finally coming true. Back then, she also was preparing herself to journey to Allah SWT, in submission to the last pillar of Islaam. But she came back. This time, she is dressed for a journey that will take her away for all eternity...
After all is done, I kissed her forehead and stared at her face for some time. My beautiful mother is at rest. She is at peace after a long struggle with pain. She looked so calm, so beautiful and so serene that I didnt have the heart to be sad at her passing. After so long of accepting Allah's will for her and facing them with tawakkul and redha and sabr, He has finally blessed her with eternal rest and peace. And that is the best wish a daughter can have for her mother.....even if it meant that the daughter has to accept the loss of a protector, friend and soulmate. Accept the loss of a mother who before, was the fulcrum of all her sacrifices, fears, strengths, loves, loss...the centre of her universe.
Not a day goes by that I didn't miss her. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for Allah for the Mercy He has shown....for my loss, is her reward.
Innalillahi wainnalillahi raaji'oon.
In loving memory of my mother
Hatijah Bte Alam
1950 - 2008
I love you mom.