An Open Letter to an Angel in Heaven

Dear Nina,

Today would have been your birthday. You would have been 35 years old and yet your life was cut short at barely 30.

The memory of you stays fresh in my mind. I will never forget your beautiful soul. The fact that on the day of your janaazah ( funeral), I met some people who told me that they knew you because – even though you didn’t always have for yourself – you always helped them and their families, warmed my heart and reminded me of the kind of person you were. I wish more people were lucky enough to have been in your atmosphere. To have been touched by your pure heart. I keep telling my husband that I wish he could have met you, I know he would have loved you to bits and yet I’m also glad he didn’t have to experience losing you. Because believe me, nothing I have ever experienced in my time on this earth can ever compare to losing someone you love – especially someone like you.

My biggest struggle is watching your kids grow up. Shane has been living with us and he has grown into this big, strong-willed young man. He’ll be 18-years old soon and who knows what he’ll decide… my biggest fear is that he won’t want to stay with us any longer and I can’t imagine what that would be like. Besides the fact that I feel responsible for him, I also feel like he’s my connection to you. He reminds me so much of you. And then Junaid. What a little genius! After every term he comes to us to tell us of his many A’s and how easy it was. And not so little Aaliyah. Goodness, that girl is such a madam. Her sassy demeanor and mannerisms…Jeez it’s like you’ve left us a little memento in her. Your children are a perfect reflection of you, each of them have a little bit of “Nina” in them. I know for sure you’re looking down on them and your heart is swelling with pride.


 

I never thought I would experience something like this but this is how it went:

STAGES OF GRIEF

Denial

You and your little family lived quite far from all of us and you guys never had a car so the only time we ever saw you was when my mom would pick you guys up or you randomly came through to make Ma and Pa food for the week. So I went through a phase where I had convinced myself that you were still with us, just at home where you always seemed to be. It was so easy to believe because we used to go weeks without seeing you.

Anger

Honestly, at first I was a bit pissed at you for leaving. As a rational thinker, I knew it wasn’t your fault nor your choice but as a grieving teenager, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of resentment. However, I did not once question God’s decision for you as I know that He knows best.

Bargaining

I don’t think I really did much of this as I knew that regardless of how I felt about it, this was God’s will and I accepted that.

Depression

A few months down the line I was randomly thinking about you and all of a sudden, my little facade shattered and it felt as though the pain was suffocating me. You were gone and there was nothing I could do about it.

Acceptance

One day I started looking for pictures of you and I together. I asked all your sisters and they rifled through their albums and no one could find anything. All my cousins have pictures of you with them. I cried about that because I just needed that connection but then I realised that out of all of them, I spent the most time with you when you were sick. I remember coming home from school everyday and coming to sit in your room with you. We’d talk about anything and everything and I will ALWAYS keep that memory with me.


I think the best way to overcome the grief is to deal with your feelings. Clearly the mistake I made was keeping it all in. Once I accepted that you were truly gone and the consequences that came with it, it became easier and easier as each day went by.

I will never truly be whole again because you took a piece of me with you when you left us. But instead of crying when I think of you, I’ve learnt to smile. And instead of resenting you for leaving, I’m glad that your pain ended. Every milestone I reach in my life all I wish for is to have you there but I know you’re watching down on us.

You will be in my heart, FOREVER.

Serendipity

In 2012, my family and I moved to a block of flats (in one of our many moves – we are like nomads). This is where I met Zayn.

You know, sometimes you come across someone who has the potential to change the entire course of your life but at that exact moment in time, neither of you are ready for it. This is exactly what happened to us. And then somehow he found his way back to me and this time, we were ready.

Back then we were both young and immature and to be very honest, I was kinda annoyed by him – and I tell him so all the time now. I was naive and the attention flattered me, and I thought he was full of himself and that maybe I was just another girl to him. So for a week or so, we enjoyed each others company until he suddenly broke away. I had no idea then what it was about but I just moved along as though nothing happened.

Then last year, a week after my 21st birthday, his mom messaged mine to congratulate her and wish me. She mentioned him in her messages which I found rather random although I knew that even back then she liked me and wanted us to be together. So that night my mom and I went to movies and as we’re waiting for the movie to start I get this Whatsapp notification  – “Salaam stranger, happy belated birthday. Sorry it’s now only but I didn’t have your number”. The reason I’ve quoted it as is, is because this message was a pivotal moment in my life whether I realized it then or not. His mom had given him my number and told him to wish me for my birthday. According to him, that was his only intention…mmm I’m sure it was!

We started texting and as most of you know, that’s one of the best parts of a budding relationship. The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is check your phone because you just know there’ll be a cute “good morning” message and the conversation just never dies out. Its thrilling, even more so when its unexpected.

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The more we chatted, the more we realized we were at the same point in our lives and that we wanted the same things. To settle down, get married. He has a four-year old son and I told him in the beginning already that I was okay with it. I love children and besides, I can’t judge him for the things he’s done in his past.

Anyway, the month of Ramadhan was approaching and we decided we would wait until after to actually meet up again. It was torturous but we endured it and survived.

So the 25th of July 2015, on a Saturday, he came over for the day. A novice cook, but eager to impress him, I made his favorite food: Butter Chicken Curry. And for a first attempt, it was delicious! Apparently, he was sold. He visited me every weekend after that. We clicked so easily. He was a totally different person to the one I knew back then and I was completely enamored.

Let me tell you, he is handsome as hell. He has these beautiful eyes, framed by the most unnecessarily long eyelashes, flawless eyebrows, the cutest nose, perfect full lips and of course, a beard. As if his ways wasn’t attractive enough??? I know he’ll be reading this so yes, I do think you’re the most handsome, cutest and sweetest ever. But that’s just my opinion.

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So on the 18th of August, after a month of getting to know one another, we made it official. We were “dating”. This is not actually allowed in Islam but hey, nobody is perfect. Anyhow, after a few months of dating, he introduced me to his son. He is absolutely adorable and the spitting image of his dad. Its taken him a while to get used to me but he seems to be warming up to me. We have some issues with the mother but I knew it would come to that and was always prepared to deal with it.

I have never experienced a relationship like this EVER. Where we are so accepting of one another and we deal with things together – even the arguments (and yes there are quite a few) don’t FEEL like arguments. If you could see the way we were with each other you would think we’ve been married for years. The ease in which we communicate, the affection and the way we care about one another. It’s as if we’ve straightened out all the kinks before we’ve even begun. God willing, it will ALWAYS be this way and perhaps increase. I feel so blessed to have someone who truly understands me and knows me better than I know myself. Someone who helps me deal with my struggles, who encourages me to better myself, to look after myself and someone who sometimes takes care of it all for me. I honestly can’t see myself with anyone else and I know that I will always feel this way about him.

This is what a relationship should be like. I hope and pray that God will keep us this way always and that the love and respect we have for one another will only grow as we do.

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