Fragile Life

When I was in high school, I knew a girl named Reem Dah.  She was a kind, sweet, smiling type of person.  One morning when I rode the bus, my friend and bus mate, Rana, told me the shocking news.  A bus driver had lost control of his bus yesterday and rammed into Reem’s family car.  Her mother, father and four year old sister sitting in the front had all been killed. In a moment.  In a heartbeat.  Just like that.

Reem and her two other sisters were badly injured and taken to the hospital for surgeries and therapy.  When I visited them in the hospital, I did not know if they knew the tragic news.   I never did find out when Reem found out the sad truth. And we never saw her again.  She was taken from the hospital back to her country, to her extended relatives’ care.

When I was living in Baghdad recently, I experienced, and continue to experience the same tragic agony for another family I met, my neighbors.  One day my neighbors had two grown sons and one son-in-law; all newly married,  two happily expecting their first borns, and one unknowingly expecting his second born. Within minutes their family heard of the kidnapping.  The Kidnapping.  The kidnapping that robbed them within minutes of their three young men.  Robbed three new brides of their husbands.  Robbed one old man and his wife of their sons.  Robbed three unborn children of their fathers. Robbed one living toddler of his father. In one fell swoop these three young men were taken from their computer business by unknown, masked men.  Two years later, there has been no word of these men.  Two years later, six families directly related to these men hold a small, inextinguishable hope that they are alive, somewhere out there.  Two years later, the chapter book stays open, waiting for an end.

And so it is with the Palestinian crisis unfolding in Gaza today.  One family lost five (FIVE!)  young daughters in one minute.  One family lost NINE children AND their parents in a one ton bombing.  One man cried over the extinguishing of his THREE young children and their mother.  In one moment. Just like that.

And so the sadness rocks deep in my heart.  How can I ever fathom what it would be like for me to lose all my children and my loving husband in one fell swoop? How can I ever imagine the sadness that would engulf my world if I were to lose three of my dearest siblings in one sudden crash?  How can I imagine what it would be like to lose my sister who makes me laugh, my sister who makes me confide, my sister who makes me proud, my brother who makes me dream?!

At the end of the day, there’s little that we can do.  But we must continue to have faith in Allah’s mercy, to thank Him for, not the little things in life, but the big things in life, the things that are right in front of us that we take for granted every day.  And more importantly, we have to feel for these people who have lost so much, put ourselves in their shoes, and never forget their story.  For if we forget their story, we lose a part of our humanity, our tender-heartedness, our brotherhood.

O Allah, give us mercy and give us strength. Make us steadfast and do not test us with that which we cannot endure.

Fatima Abdallah

Fatima Abdallah is a dedicated mother, sister, daughter, and MAS youth worker. After spending several years in Cairo and post-Saddam Baghdad, she now lives in Virginia with her two daughters, ages 2 and 3.

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  • kariman

    indeed, what a fragile life. as i read your post fatima, i truly felt your words and the thought of loosing my child, husband, sibling or parents brings a burst of tears. how do we prepare for such a separation?

  • ummossama

    For me, and I am sure for many others, just the thought of loosing a loved one is so painful that I can only hold on to it for a few seconds. It is truly only the mercy of Allah(swt) that can wrap us in peace/ comfort and give us the strength to endure such devastating/tragic times as these. JAK Fatima

  • Zainab

    Beautiful post Fatima. I think about this all the time and I try putting myself in their place but I just cannot imagine losing my family so suddenly. Life truly is fragile and we should be thankful for all that we have been blessed with…

  • Mumtaz

    Beautifully said. We all to often forget when we’re mired down with mundane stressors just how good we have it. When we’re annoyed with our husbands and children, we lose sight of just how precious they really are. Thank you so much for this post – we cannot be reminded enough to be grateful and rejoice in what Allah has given us.

  • hanan

    Asalaamu alaikum…Do you feel that pain in your body? Especially at the thought of losing a child…It is like electrical emptiness across my arms and chest to think of such a loss. As if the place that you physically hug someone aches. I look at my son and daughter and think to myself…By what right do I have to see them safe, warm and fed every day? Where is the justice and wisdom? I know it is there because that is the way of God. The best I can come up with is that I must mother my children so much the harder. Mother them away from the commercial numbness and the peer pressure, the materialism and the laziness, the merciless individualism and isolation of technology. Mother them toward awareness of God and surety of purpose, the critical nature of the here and now. I feel I need to EARN my children by making them different. Like in some way, I can help ease the pain of another mothers loss by not wasting my children…like maybe if I try hard enough they will be a small positive tribute to being left behind. Not that we all aren’t always trying hard. It is just so heavy sometimes.

    Wa salam…

  • Maryam

    A really beautiful reminder of how we are all ultimately in Allah’s hands and how we should thank him for those simple, yet priceless blessings we so easily forget about and take for granted. Alhamdulillah.

  • syoussef

    SubhanAllah, thank you so much for your post Fatima. It really is a good reminder on how fragile this life is. I really loved Hanan’s post as well. You are so right… it is true that we almost have to earn this right, this blessing that Allah has given us, of comfortable lives close to our loved ones by trying so much harder to have a purpose driven life and to constantly thank Allah for all the blessings we have. It is Allah who gave these blessings to us, and it is his right to take it away.

    I have felt it mostly while getting ready for my first baby, choosing from an array of travel systems, high chairs, clothes, bouncers etc for my upcoming baby while other children around the world can’t find a bite to eat. I pray that Allah always makes us of those who remember the less fortunate in our daily lives and of those who always thank him for his blessings.

  • Um Lubayah

    I often think of losing my family, and how I would feel my world crumble around me. But those thoughts always lead me to the more important issue, my death. Am I ready to meet Allah? Am I satisfied with what I’ve done? Do I think I have what it takes to get into Jannah?

  • Maha

    It is very scary to think of how fragile our lives are and how quickly they can be taken away. Like Um Ossama said, it’s a thought you can only hold on to for a few seconds…

    But I think being reminded of those thoughts makes us run to Allah, flee to Him, seek protection with Him, because only at His side can we find any true permanence and protection. So in remembering death and the fleetingness of life, we actually live more hopeful and faith-rich lives.

  • kelly

    Asalamu alaikum Sr. Fatima/mamas,

    ma’sha Allah. i love your blog. i had written a comment last week about your blog and Sister Hanan’s comment. and unfortunately, i didn’t save it properly to re-send.

    i just wanted to let u know that i was so very touched by your blog and Sr. Hanan’s thoughts. insha Allah, i’ll find my post.

    love, kelly

  • Fariha

    beautiful post Fatima, we so badly need these reminders to wake us up from indifference, ungratefulness, forgetfulness…