I am thinking back to the three months after July 13, 2005:
It is the usual evening phone call from my youngest brother, “How are you Apa?” he asks. A loaded question that has no succinct answer as even I am unaware how I am, leave alone tell him some substance of the truth.
He is a little short of breath, which tells me he is out on his aerobic walk and memorizing the surahs from the Quran. He is in the process of memorizing Surah Tariq (he had told me last time we spoke) I have been unsuccessful in memorizing that surah, some of it has been a paralysis of effort.
“Apa…. grief is like an Elephant in the room” he continues “At this time it is raging, but slowly it will calm down and eventually it will decrease in size and sit in a corner quietly”
I note that he refrains from saying that “Eventually it will go away”
His next words confirm what is in my head “It will never go away, but it will reduce in size and it may be made to sit quietly in the corner with effort” what he means “effort on my part”.
Concerted effort to calm (not ignore) the raging elephant of grief in the room………..how true that has been. I can see that clearly now almost two and half years later.
I am deeply thankful to Allah SWT that he gave me five brothers to start with, and even though one of them left us to join Him (SWT), the others each in their own way have strengthened me all through this time.
Meanwhile I have been wrestling with my grief, sometimes being thrown to the ground and sometimes taming it to sit quietly in the corner, but never am I without it. I have learnt to live with the elephant in the room, wary and alert.
A year later I am at a funeral visitation for Tariq’s friends brother. He has thrown himself on the railroad tracks, and ended a long and protracted time with depression. His deeply saddened mother asks my husband about the pain of loss “how is it a year later……….. is it ever any better?”
I am stunned when my husband says “you will never get over it…………it will always be there with you….forever” A year later she writes us a letter and says……….”Paul you were so right…….!”
We parents of dead children, are all living with the Elephant in the room. Some of us have learned to subdue its rage, and some of us……..are still wresting with it……….and some have been trampled by it, and are in pieces.
Even as I live each day, pray, laugh and see patients I am keenly aware of it…..my grief, at all times. To think that one will ever be “over it” or “forget it “ or “go back to life as it was” is a fallacy. Each one of us has been transformed by it and we can never go back to being who we were.
I am in a continuous inner struggle to submerge my grief in my personal preparation for Akirah; always keenly aware that at any time the elephant in the room may go into a rage and trample me, rendering me immobile.
Do you have an Elephant in your room?