These past two weeks have been a steep rising and steep diving of emotions. What follows is a piece written as the result of this incomprehension, solace, beauty, and hurt. Don’t worry, I don’t lose anyone in the course of this piece, except perhaps myself.
I wrote this on March 2, 2021, during my first week back in Port Sudan after two and a half years away. After I finally came to terms with the extent of my grandfather’s weakness. It’s (almost) unedited, so be kind to a hurting heart.
Before the Loss
Everyone talks about the loss. Some about what follows. But few talk about the before,
We grieve the beloved, we remember the beloved, but we’re never ready to lose the beloved.
When we speak in hushed tones, step soundlessly around their bed, think quietly of how much thinner they’ve become, how much weaker, how much sadder. (poetry, much like music, takes liberties with grammar)
Sajdas (prostrations) become longer, prayers more strongly felt, fears rising but never discussed.
Time doesn’t stop for the broken, nor the healing. The latter just bares it better.
To love the beloved as a person, not ready to lose them as a thing.
Because they always become just a body when they’re gone. A human only in the past tense, a detached soul in the present, the future.
I’m not ready.
The most difficult part about seeing my grandfather slowly succumb to human fragility is the sheer helplessness. Often, it was in knowing I can do next to nothing for him, but especially in knowing I can do next to nothing for someone who’d do anything for him – my mother, his eldest daughter. Every day a fear resounds over how tightly he holds on to the grips of life, and with what strength that fate holds back. I remember sitting, telling him how I promised to come back to Sudan and never give up on a crumbling system. I remember his reaction when I said I study politics, how he sneered with menial disgust at how politics is nothing in Sudan. I remember how I reassured him that it wasn’t politics I intended, but education. How quickly he found comfort and praise in those words. How often he repeated “The first thing is, always, May Allah grant you success,” over and over and over and over again. The prayer of a parent is followed most closely by the prayer of a grandparent. To him, my prayer is, May Allah always keep you with me. I’m not ready to lose you.
Now that I’m away from him once again, every phone call is a heartbeat on pause and a breath held without notice. My subconscious resigns itself to the worst-case scenario as easily as I type these words, which is far too quickly and far too heartlessly. I am grateful for every ounce of strength he puts into every phone call, because I know his breath is hard to recapture and the words come more slurred than before.
Here’s to every broken and every healing heart. May you find comfort knowing you are not alone in fearing the loss of a beloved or mourning those who have gone. For those feeling every form of grief. May we all be reunited.
Please spare a prayer for my grandfather, I’ll spare one for all those you love.