We all have special days in our lives. Anniversaries of when we met the one we love, graduation dates, the first day of our dream job. There are days we look forward to- like the day we leave for hajj, or the day our baby will be born. There are days we never forget, like the one when our mother passed away, or the day we won the regional spelling bee.
Today is a significant day for me, because today is the day my baby girl Shukurah officially outlived her sister, Nadhiyrah. When my first daughter died, the trauma of it left a scar that rewrote my belief system. This is what trauma does. It makes you believe that whatever you lived through will happen again in the right place, or under the right conditions. That park where you were attacked is the park where you will always be attacked. Or that intersection where the bad accident happened is the most dangerous intersection in town. I’ve lived the last 10 years with a subconscious belief that baby girls only live for a little over 112 days, so after I had Shukurah every day was like an agonizing countdown of her short lifespan.
Logically, we know that this doesn’t fit reality. But the parts of our souls that have been traumatized have their own reality, their own set of laws and rules. Only can a new experience rescript the old, maladaptive one. So today is a day where facts kept archived deep in my psyche are finally reformatted. Today is a day when Shukurah DID wake up in the morning, and she is breathing. Right now she is laying next to me sleeping, turning her little head from side to side with grimaces and grins.
I know I will never lose the vigilance I have with her. I will always be worried about her safety and wellbeing no matter how old she gets. I feel my mind thinking, deep down, that every day hereafter is most likely “borrowed time”, and I will never rest easy that even one day of her life is guaranteed to me. In some senses, trauma never goes completely away.
But then, if we can be traumatized by the lack of a sure thing in life, then trauma is the hallmark of our very existence. Nothing is guaranteed in this life, from one beat of the heart to one breath of the lungs to one dollar to spend. A lover may leave, a business may fail, a friend may betray, and every possession could be burnt to ashes or swept away in a storm. We, in our imperfect state, cannot even depend on ourselves to stand for a single prayer, or even sleep through the night without waking from a bad dream. We cannot stop ourselves from longing for the wrong things or abandoning the right things if we aren’t given divine strength to do so. And though we may know that Allah is the only sure and reliable One to trust and follow, our fallible created nature won’t even let us remember it for more than minutes at a time.
So I take this moment to thank Allah for shifa, for barakah, and for hope (don’t know the Arabic word for that one, sorry). I thank Him for all the painful experiences that are the alchemy to wisdom and peace. But most of all, I thank Him that no matter how Great He is, He still succors us at our insignificant place of need. Truly, Allah is Most Great. Allahu Akbar.