It was July 13, 2005. The sun was shining, it was noontime, and I was going home to have lunch with my son who was driving to a city three hours away with a friend. There was no hurry on my calendar, I was going to be alone on a long day, my husband was out of town and was coming in late, my daughter was working and my son was going out of town with a friend.
When I got home, he was ready to leave without eating lunch as he was giving a ride to another friend who needed to get to the airport three hours away.
He turned at the the door, wearing khaki shorts, his favorite moss green shirt and his glasses, his expression was pre-occupied but I could sense a latent sense of excitement for what lay ahead. He turned at the kitchen door, and waved to me “Bye Mom” he said and stepped out of the door and my life forever. I never got to kiss him while his head was warm & vibrant with life.
I went to the grocery store to buy a cake for the graduation ceremony for our office intern, I wondered if my son had forgotten to buy our travel snacks for the next day. I called my daughter and asked her. She said he was already gone and that yes he had bought what I had asked him to and left it with her.
After the graduation ended, I felt an indefinable state of panic within me. “ I have to go home” I thought to myself. There is no one at home came the next thought and it was only 4.33 pm.
The sun was peeking through a shimmer of rain, there should be a rainbow I thought, but instead far away somewhere dark ominous looking clouds were approaching promising pain and plunder and a blinding rain.
By 5 pm I was beside myself, shortly after that I was headed for home. As I turned towards the road home, there was a gentle rain, with promise of ominous weather waiting in the wings.
As soon as I left the clump of trees blocking my cell phone’s reception I called him and his voice mail with his usual message with a smile came on “ hey this is Tariq, please leave a message, if this is an emergency call 911” I was frustrated at him not answering. I wished he would answer; I just wanted to hear his live voice.
Meanwhile Hurricane Dennis was dumping blinding rain on the highway, the EMS Department of T County, one hour away, had received 44 calls for a 911 emergency on the highway where a green BMW had been smashed by an eighteen-wheeler.
As the Sheriff reached over to identify him, in the pocket of his khaki shorts, his phone was ringing, his mother was calling but God got him first.
The Sheriff reached over and turned off his phone, as the Jaws of Life were at work, only this time they were just the jaws as there was no life inside the car.
The spirit of my son, his dear childhood friend Im and his new college friend were long gone from the car leaving behind their bodies to be retrieved and wept over by many who loved them.
I reached home and started to clean, iron and pack for our annual family vacation trip next day. I looked at my cosmetic case and removed my mascara; I wont need this on this trip I thought to myself. I was right; I did not need it, not then, not the next day, not ever again.
Unbeknownst to me I was going on a trip sure enough, a trip into my life without my son, in which I certainly was not going to need mascara.
I now live by: Inna lil lahi wa inna elayhe rajaeoon.