There’s No Other Name for Mama

I see her in the spaces she no longer occupies. Every room still holds outlines of her presence, and as I walk in, I feel like I just missed her. When I am still enough, I feel her being superimposed inside me; and she is breathing through my pores. Sometimes I want to rage against the thin veil that separates us. I know she is just on the other side, not so far away that her scent no longer lingers.

Yet she is gone. And the irrevocable nature of her journey beckons me to examine mine. I marvel at how loved she was. I reflect on her diligence in carrying out small kindnesses attracting souls to the largess of her heart. She was surrounded in her death, as in her life, everyone with a story to tell. “She loved me best, let me count the ways…” As any other soul impacted by the shock of grieving and loss, I want to spend eternity recounting her virtues. I look around me and wonder at how relentless life is. The sun still rises faithfully and I am continually being carried forward by waves of obligations and life that insists on being nurtured.

And so my grief also comes in waves. In the most mundane of moments, I remember that I have no one to call “mama” anymore and I grieve for the little girl within me. This sadness then ripples to the rest of the world and I cry over how broken everything is. Or it is the opposite, my frustration against the mundane leads me to remember how she is gone and I pour myself out into that void.

I miss her in ways I still can’t find words for. I am left with the echo of her love reverberating throughout my life. So I find myself retracing some of her footsteps to stay connected to her memory. And the prayers, the only tangible source of connection I still have to her and the procession of the dead that have preceded her life. So I pray, pray, pray, for all who have passed before us, for this broken world, for me…And when I am overwhelmed by emotion, I pray some more, and blow kisses of light to her grave.

May He forgive us and those who have preceded us and may He illuminate our steps to guide us back to the folds of His Mercy. Amin.

Maliha Balala

Maliha Balala lives in Maryland and adores mommying her two boys, reading, running in pretty places (okay more like jogging!), writing and daydreaming of all the things she still wants to do when she grows up.

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