“I have to go.” I blurted and quickly hung up. I was sitting with a coffee in a shopping area, talking to my sister when I saw her. She stared at me and I stared back, taking a couple of seconds to realize who she was. “I thought it was you!” she said softly. I got up to give her a hug. She was Tammy, a former workplace mentor, and it had been more than five years since we had seen each other. I heard that she had gotten married and had a baby so I congratulated her only to find out that she is divorced now.
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” she said sadly. Her words rung through my mind for the rest of the day as I recalled the Tammy I worked with over the course of one year. She was a woman who was concerned about turning 30 because she was not yet married. Tammy longed to start a family and looked forward to the day she would bake birthday cakes for her children. So when I had first heard that she was married and pregnant, I was thrilled for her. But Tammy’s life took a different path from what she had envisioned, and an alternate, more complicated picture emerged.
I started reflecting on how you just never know what the future will hold, as cliché as this might sound. Only Allah (SWT) has knowledge of what will happen in our lives and I started to realize how humbling this is. Weeks passed with Tammy’s experience still on my mind when I met another former colleague. She told me that her daughter had just been diagnosed with a serious illness and she said to me, “Never for a second did I ever think this could happen to my little girl.” I started to almost feel shivers when I heard her words. Then I thought more about the others I have encountered over the last several years:
“Never in a million years did we think this would happen,” my friend who lost her husband once told me.
“I never thought this would happen to me,” said another friend battling breast cancer.
Who knows what one’s life will be like ten years from now? One year? Next week?
Reflecting some more, I realized that perhaps all of us have things in our lives we are facing which we never expected to face. There are challenges and even feelings we might experience which we never thought we would have to deal with. But that is life, after all. Allah (SWT) says in Surah 67: Al Mulk (verses 1-2): “Blessed is He in Whose hand is the Sovereignty, and He is Able to do all things. Who has created death and life that He may try you, which of you is best in conduct; and He is the Mighty, Forgiving,”
Hebba is a Canadian mother of two boys and lives in Oakville, Ontario. She is a passionate Montessorian and is currently working at an Islamic elementary school.