It is currently raining.  Just like it rained that night.  Precipitation pitter-pattered on the pavement in tune with the beeps of the four blood pressure machines that failed to pick up a heart rate.  I looked on as several nurses and doctors attempted to find ways to pick up her heart rate.

I can’t sleep.  Just like how I couldn’t sleep that night.  I fitfully slept in that uncomfortable chair, not leaving her side.  She wasn’t the same woman I’d known throughout my life.  They had to place a surface drip on her chest as they were unable to find a vein that would allow the intravenous needle to provide her with sustenance.

“Saraiya, I just want to go home.  Take me home.”

Those were the last words that my grandmother uttered to me on her birthday.  That was the last request that I was unable to fulfill.  Early hours of that morning I left and it was raining.  As the day progressed, the sun came out but my heart was heavy.  Heavy as it is now as I struggle to articulate how I felt that day.  Within 10 hours, I was told my grandmother had passed away at my desk.  The emotions and the pretense that I had kept pent up for two years broke the levies and engulfed me in a pain I had never experienced before.

I am crying.  Just like how I cried when I had to explain to my 17 year old sister over the phone that she’d finally lost her battle to cancer.  Just like how I cried and my legs gave way when I saw her lifeless yet peaceful body on the hospital bed I had visited again and again on numerous occasions that year.

I know she’s gone, but I haven’t come to terms with my grandmother’s death.  I haven’t mourned.  At times I feel haunted, because she was such a vivacious and charismatic woman who exuded love and generosity.  How can such qualities just go?  Then I feel guilty because I know she was in a lot of pain.  Remaining alive in the state that she was in wasn’t a mercy to her.  And Allah is most merciful.

Today would have been her 65th birthday, and I find myself wondering what would be a good way to mark it.  A colleague of mine said it would be great to do what she enjoyed doing.  Well, my grandmother was a legendary party animal so this weekend I did just that – I had fun.  But I feel her life should be celebrated every single day.  Which I already do.

I looked within myself and thought: “Which of her qualities do I possess?”

I am vivacious and have a big heart.

“How can I channel these qualities into my life?”

By loving whole heartedly.  Laughing until you’re gasping for much needed oxygen only to then use  it to laugh some more.  Rejoice in happiness – your own and others.  Cry if you need to.  Constructively vent your emotions.  Be the good human being you were created to be.  Use your skills to create a change in the world and inspire others.

Thank you Haja Zainab D’Jenaba Kamara for these life lessons.  It’s a shame I’m too late to thank you personally, but the world will benefit from the teachings. 10482427_10152399087292861_2291426298059811750_n

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