Monday, 10 March 2014

Aisha Part 4

At each subsequent visit I could see a marked decline in her condition, as if she was fading away before my eyes.  She had to increase her intake of morphine for her pain and this meant that she would doze off in the middle of a conversation, and eventually she couldn’t even pray without nodding off, waking up, continuing her prayer, nodding off again….It reminded me of the hadith where the Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) instructed us to “Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death”.  One day we settled her in her bed and she seemed to be sleeping so I gently kissed her on her head and said a dua for her.  I didn’t think she was aware of it until my friend who had come with me that day said that she saw a tear in Aisha’s eye.

In the first week of March one of her closest friends rang me and urged me to go and see Aisha as soon as possible as she was fast losing her voice, so I asked her son if it would be ok to come and see her on Friday 5th and he said it would be fine. Her husband had returned by now and had been very shocked to see her condition, and wouldn’t let anyone help him with her nursing, doing it all himself, something I know she appreciated as she spoke of him with such affection and love.  So I drove in along with my eldest daughter, Sarah, and when I saw her lying on the sofa I knew that she was very weak… so much so that she had difficulty trying to remove a piece of couscous stuck between her teeth.  Her voice was very weak, just barely a whisper and she reminisced with Sarah about the time, as a little girl, she had stayed with them, and she had cut her finger.  Aisha was so afraid that she might get an infection that she made her put her finger in a bucket of water and ….. bleach!  As they laughed over the memory Aisha remarked it was a wonder Sarah didn’t lose her finger!  We didn’t stay very long as I knew our visit was too much for her so we left promising to return soon.  And that was the last time I saw her, as she passed away in her sleep the following Wednesday, 10 March, before Fajir. 

I travelled into to her home to pay my respects to her son and his father’s family, and after picking up a couple of friends, one of whom knew her from England, arrived while the men had gone to the funeral prayer.  To be honest I was very calm and was chatting away to the two women and my daughter until I got to the steps up to her home, and then I remembered the last time I had climbed those stairs, and I found myself tearing up.  I really didn’t want to go in and upset everyone so I tried to gulp down my tears, but the more I gulped the more I wanted to cry and I had to stop and take some deep breaths and apologise to my friends for being such a gooseball. I found it very hard to go into the room and look at the sofa where I had seen her last, and the room was full of dry eyed strangers, all of whom were neighbours of the family and none of whom, I’m sure, ever met Aisha and had no idea of the big hole she had left behind.  I just found it so difficult being there trying to choke down my emotions that eventually Sarah had to explain to the women gathered that Aisha had been a good friend of mine.  Eventually someone from the family came downstairs and brought us up to    where they were gathered and we reminisced over cups of coffee and cake.  When Aisha’s son returned from the funeral he came upstairs immediately and sat with us and started telling us all about his life with his parents in Kuwait and all the funny things he remembered.  I found out afterwards that Aisha had asked one friend to ask us all to tell her son about all the things we remembered about Aisha’s life from England.  At one stage Sarah and I were sitting with her son and I remembered Aisha’s mum whom I knew also had cancer.  When she had been to England for medical treatment she had spent some time with her mum who had expressed a desire to come and visit her in Algeria, something Aisha had thought would be too much for her. I said to her son, ‘oh and by the way… how is your mother?’  As soon as I said it I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.  ‘I mean… your grandmother,’ I tried to correct myself.  He looked at me and then burst out laughing and with relief I realised he had his mum’s wonderful warped sense of humour, especially with Sarah saying ‘Oh MOM!  I can’t take you anywhere!’  I learnt some time afterwards that her mum passed away only a few weeks after her.

May Allah forgive Aisha all her sins, make her grave wide and spacious and grant her Fidous, and make it possible for me to meet her there one day.
In memory of Aisha who never did get to come to look at the sea at the end of our road

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