Sometimes the only payoff for having any faith, is when it’s tested again and again everyday.
This one above is a lyric from a song by Fall Out Boy that I have always been able to relate to, and in 2023, it seems to be hitting home harder than usual. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, I have had a lot of wonderful things happen to me this year. But with every month that passes, it seems that most of my time and energy are being spent in overcoming one big crisis after another.
Afterall, the year started with my dad having a stroke and collapsing on the streets. I still remember leaving work immediately to head home, praying to God that the strangers who found my father would bring him back safely. But worse than that, I remember how the entire journey back, I was making plans and preparations for what I should do if the worst happened. My entire family and I are still heavily dependent on my father financially, and the entire time I was mentally preparing a checklist of things to do to so that my mother and sister would have some financial support after his death.
It’s a cruel thing to do; to think about money instead of worrying about the loss of a person. But I don’t know how else to react. Financial stability has always been important to me; my greatest fear has always been lack of financial support in times of crisis. I do not know any different way to think. I do not know any thing else to fear.
I wish I wasn’t this way but I am who I am.
With the grace of Allah, my dad survived the stroke and the kindness of strangers meant he returned to us unharmed. But that was just the beginning of a series of tragedies that have been plaguing my family.
Soon afterwards my grandmother fell ill and needed several bags of blood and iron injections. She was later diagnosed with severe malnutrition and an early case of Alzheimer’s. At around almost the same time, my grandfather had a brain hemorrhage and needed urgent care as well.
In less than two months after these two incidents, my mother had an accident as well. While trying to move a large pot full of water, she injured her spine. My mother already has scoliosis (curved spine) which meant that she felt extra pressure on her injury, and now requires injections in her spine every month. For a long time, she was not allowed to get up from bed, she was not allowed to stay in bed for too long, she could not sit up for too long, she could not walk or bend.
And last night, my father slipped and fell and dislocated his shoulder. He is at the hospital with my sister as I write this down. He needs immediate surgery and we don’t even know if he can survive the surgery given his age and health condition.
At times like this, I cannot help but feel both a sense of helplessness and hope. I feel helpless because even at the age of 27, I need my parents. I don’t know if I will ever stop needing them. And seeing them suffer or need help makes me feel like I am standing on shaky ground. Like at any moment, the earth beneath my feet would collapse and swallow me whole.
I still feel hope that things would get better, because in spite of every hurdle we have been facing this year, somehow we keep moving forward. Somehow, we smile and laugh and crack jokes and continue living as if all the bad stuff never happened. We never get a break, we never seem to get a moment to just pause and breathe and process everything that’s happened. The seconds slip right through my fingers, turn into minutes and hours and days and before I know it, I am halfway done with the year and I cannot figure out how time just slipped away like that.
I understand my sister’s dark humor better than ever now; if we cannot laugh at our problems, the only other option left is to cry.
And I am not sure if my tears will stop if I start.
Again, I don’t mean to be ungrateful because I have had a lot of blessings as well. The way my father fell–it could have been worse. The way my mom hurt her spine–it could have been worse. I can see a thousand scenarios where I would have lost my loved ones, but I didn’t. I still have them with me, and I can still depend on them. There’s no blessing greater than that.
This 2023 midyear check-in was supposed to be about books and other life updates. But right now, in the wake of the trauma that my family and I went through just last night, all I can do is pray that the rest of the year is kinder to us. That this be the last crisis we face. All I can do is pray for strength and patience and perseverance.