Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It was the worst of times

This is the story that I have been dreading to write but I think it is time. I don’t know if anyone will want to read it, because unlike the others on this blog, this isn’t inspiring or happy. It is sad. But it is our story and these words needed to be written.

On Dec 13th of last year I arrived in Islamabad, first time with my baby girl and the first time that Papa wasn’t there to pick me up at the airport. Instead he was lying in a hospital nearby recovering from serious brain surgery and getting ready for some severe treatments for his brain cancer. Mama and Waliya (my baby sister) came to pick me up and even though we were all smiling and enjoying Anya’s reactions to meeting everyone, underneath it all was a huge burden. Our beautiful little world was shattering in front of our eyes and all we could do was ask for strength to breathe, be strong in these difficult days and hope against hope that Papa (and us) would get through this.

Before this on the night of Nov 26th, only around 36 hours before Papa’s surgery, a doctor’s panel sat and told mama about the severity of papa’s situation. Their words, ‘we are not expecting a miracle’ hung in the air as Mama drove through pouring rain and tears, the 40 minutes back from the hospital to their home, where Waliya waited, all the while thinking how she will break the news to her. Even now when I imagine that time and what my baby sister and mom must have gone through, I cant stop my tears. I will wish forever that in those heart wrenching days, before, during and after Papa’s surgery, we were all together. To be a strength for each other and for Papa.

After the surgery on Nov 28th, as Nadiya (my sister who lives in the UK) and I waited miles across for any kind of good news, Mama and Waliya were ecstatic to see Papa through the Intensive Care Unit window as he tried to wave at them. They thought this was tremendous after brain surgery and thought that definitely the worst was behind them. Later on, Waliya couldn’t stop crying as she remembered those early days after surgery. How hard Papa use to try to get up initially and as he gained strength tried to walk a little further every day in the hospital hallway, because the doctors had told him that the sooner he’s able to get back on his feet, the sooner he’d be able to go home and he really really wanted to go home.

This progress continued for a few days. Nadiya and I were even able to talk to Papa on the phone and even though his speech was slurred, we were beyond relieved and thinking he’ll be better really soon. Meanwhile we all tried to swallow the dreaded C word. No one close to us had ever had cancer before. Nadiya and I kept reading things online to get more information, alternative therapy for cancer, diets for cancer patients, recovery from brain surgery, cancer survivor stories etc etc, all the while thinking that even though this would be the hardest battle we had fought in our lives, we all will get through this. We made plans of how to spend the most time with our family and how to be of most use. It was set, I would be with my family in the initial months and then when Papa gets back home from hospital, Nadiya would join us and help Papa in his recovery as she has always been very good in this way.

Anyways when I arrived and went to visit him the day of, it was the worst I have ever seen him. It is still very hard to remember him like that, but I will never be able to get that vision out of my head. I hid in my grandparents room on returning and tears streamed down my face as I called a cousin who is a doctor to ask her why he was in so much torture. Despite knowing the truth of the situation and understanding it better than any of us did, she told me the words I wanted to hear and I felt better.

In my research online, while still in Seattle, I had found out about the different types of brain cancers and GBM4 stayed with me because of the terrible prognosis. In my heart I continuously prayed that that wouldn’t be the one that Papa has. Little did I know that across the world, my mom was holding Papa’s reports that spelled out the exact words. But, she had no idea what it meant, except for that the doctors ‘weren’t expecting a miracle.’ Maybe it is in our culture, that we think the family cant take the truth, maybe we fear saying the words, the reactions. I still don’t know what is better, not telling it clearly enough, or telling it too clearly. I will always wonder. But all I know is that in those moments, the mixed signals, infuriated us like anything. We felt like the hospital, the doctors, weren’t doing enough. When we would ask about any symptoms that we were worrying us, all they would say is 'bas aap ko pata hee hai na iss disease ka' you know how (bad) this disease is. Sometimes we were told how great the surgery had been, then another doctor who'd visit would tell us how the tumor has already grown again. In retrospect, it was terrible and frustrating at the moment but maybe we wouldn't have wanted to believe even if we had been told clearly. Till the last day we believed that there would be a miracle and he would recover.

One week after I reached, Nadiya reached too. She decided that it was too much to be so far away and she just had to be with our dad. She gave Papa, Mama and Waliya exactly what they needed, what I wasn't able to give with a little baby to take care of. She gave Papa all her attention from morning till night, when we would come back home to rest for a few hours. She would remind him of funny moments we’ve had together and entertain him with her sense of humor. She would clean and organize Papa’s hospital room. She helped Mama manage all financial issues and she was with Waliya when they had to take Papa for the terrible radiation treatments. In the days after she reached, Papa would keep asking for his 'Nadu' all the time.

Weeks kept passing. Our days was spent at the hospital. Our nights were spent praying and trying to cheer ourselves up so we are ready for the next day with Papa. We did our best to arrive at the hospital with a smile on our face and no tears in our eyes for Papa to see. We wanted him to see us and instantly feel better, we wanted him to smile and be able to cheer him up. We would remember funny stories to tell to Papa to cheer him up.  Even in those terrible days, instead of looking like the gloom our hearts felt, we tried to dress up for Papa, so he feels good when he sees us and he would always notice.

There were many days when Papa was better, he would tell stories about his air force days. He remembered all the names of his friends and even teachers of his school/college days. He would discuss technology ideas with Bilal (my husband) when he reached. He would ask us to bring him particular foods and sweets. And he would ask about Anya a lot, 'where is the little traveller' with a twinkle in his eye.

On the other hand their were days when Papa would forget where he was, would ask for the same things repeatedly throughout the day, felt very restless and would keep changing his beds or chairs and not be able to find a comfortable place to rest, where he hardly talked or opened his eyes, and just kept thinking something, what? My heart will always ache to think of that.

In those one and a half month in the hospital, Papa had more visitors than we could possibly imagine. News of his illness travelled among his lifelong friends and colleagues and it was a huge shock to everyone. Papa was not yet 59, and had always kept very good health and he was the last person any of us could even imagine lying in bed in the condition he was in. Day in and day out, people visited, from all across the country. We have no count of them because they were far too many. It is truly in bad times that you realize your worth and of those around you and we truly realized how loved and respected our dad was. Except for one or two, Papa greeted them all by their names, always shaking their hands firmly and telling them he would be well soon.

Through all of this, through brain surgery, through the terrible recovery and the cancer treatments, through the endless discomfort, there was never a time that Papa complained about what he was facing. He was more brave than anyone I have seen and in that courage he left a huge example for us. He showed us how to stand tall in front of the toughest battles. He would talk about God a lot. He would recite verses from the Quran. One of the last things he said to us before he went into coma was ‘meri betiyan kitni bahadur hain’, my daughters are so brave.

And all this above, was only half the battle we were facing. The other was more painful in ways because it came from those we had always trusted and hit where it hurt the most. It is true that you find out the reality of people in hard times, and as this tragedy unfolded, many in our family turned their backs on us. Not stopping there even, they went to all extents to hurt us. We arrived at the hospital every morning, with our stomachs turning hoping that this would be the day we wont have to see their faces. They pained us like nobody ever can, their words stung, their hatred burned and in those days when we needed all the support we could, they kicked us where it hurt the most. The worst is that they did it all in front of Papa who was already so helpless at that point. He would try to calm them down, but when evil starts, it is hard to stop it. Their plans were only beginning to unfold but at that point all we could think of was Papa and it hurt us the most that they were hurting him when he needed to be given the most peace.

On Jan 12th, 2012, Papa had seizures since the morning, doctors didn't arrive till much later in the day and it wasn't until the night that he was shifted to a room near the Intensive Care. They told us he was in coma, but we saw him open his eyes a few times in the 5 days that followed, we thought he wanted to say something, we felt his hands tighten on ours, and we truly believed, or in retrospect wanted to believe, that he would get out of it. In those 5 days we literally started living at the hospital in my mama's little car, along with Anya as there was no one at home who could take care of her. I would nurse her in the freezing little car, and one of us would take care of her while the rest of us would take turns sitting at Papa's side. At Papa's side, we held his swollen hands and we read the Quran, we read Ayat ul Kursi, we read duas endlessly, we cried, we talked to those that came to see him and we hoped against hope.

Jan 17th, 2012, started like any other day, bright and sunny. Papa had had a temperature since the morning and we scolded the attendants that stayed with him for the night on why they didn't inform us so we could've come right then to be with Papa. We were sitting outside as Nadiya took her turn with Papa inside and her phone call to Mama from inside didn't feel normal. The rest of the memories all play in slow motion in my head but I still cannot put them in words, we waited outside, we cried, we prayed, they told us to stand outside, doctors nurses went in and out, and then just as suddenly as it had came upon us, it was over. Papa left us too fast and too soon, with so much that had to be said, and so much that he still had to finish, so much that we had to ask from him and tell him and show him, and so much that he had to tell us.

May Allah bless him and may that life be a source of eternal happiness and peace for him IA. And May we be blessed to be able to meet him again one day and hug him and tell him all that was left to say. Ameen.

FYI: Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan; Ayat ul Kursi: Verses from the Quran that are read for protection from all sort of worries; Dua: Prayer 

2012-11-25 090

Thanks for reading this blog and for stopping by!

58 comments:

  1. I am overwhelmed! Not just by the traumatic and brave acccount set in prose, but by the courage it must have taken to transform your thoughts and emotions into words ingrained in the hearts and minds of your readers. You are indeed a monumentally brave girl, and they say sharing the pain greatly reduces it. I hope that stands true for you. In some ways by venting we free ourselves, of all the grief compounding inside our little hearts. Nataliya, you continue to be a source of inspiration and aspiration as the girl who has the courage to share the good, the bad and the ugly!
    May Allah continue to make ease for all of you through this process, may you all heal as best as possible and may you continue to thrive and prosper and remain a sadaqa-e-jariya for uncle. We love you and pray for you incessantly. Remember, a smooth sea never made a great sailor! So sail away in this ocean of life with the strength and the courage your dad instilled you with. iA you will all be united in jannat-ul-firdoos one day. Sending lots of virtual hugs and duas your way. Please call my mom at 03335106733, she has a way of healing like no one else can.

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    1. Fatima Ameen to these beautiful duas. You always know the best things to say and do to make me feel better. I will never forget your messages and calls in those early months when I got back from Pakistan. It is only in hard times that you realize who your true friends are and I am lucky to have you. Yes, I needed to write down this story more for myself than anyone else. Allah is kind. We do manage to get through these tragic times however impossible it may seem. I will be calling auntie. Lots of love

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  2. this is so beautiful and saddening at the same time. brought tears to my eyes. I can totally relate as a very close family member of mine passed away due to this terrible disease too. the pain never really goes away, we just learn to live with it. I admire you and your sisters. May Allah give him the highest ranks in Jannah, sabr to you all and lots of happiness in the future.
    xx

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    1. It is a traumatic disease and one that just comes up from nowhere and shakes your whole world. I am so sorry for your loss. May Allah bless you and your loved ones. Ameen to your duas. Thank you so much for your comment! Lots of love.

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  3. this is so beautiful and saddening at the same time. i can totally relate as a very close family member of mine passed away due to this terrible disease as well. the pain never really goes away instead we learn to live with it. May Allah grant him the highest ranks in Jannah, sabr to all of you and lots of happiness in the future. I admire you and your sisters, keep up your beautiful work!
    love xx

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  4. may Allah give him plc in jannat ul firdaus ... Aameen

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  5. I never read. I hate reading essays.. But I couldn't help but read all this. This made me cry, made me pray for each one of you. May Allah bless you all and may He give you all the strength you all need to face this. I'm sure your father is the happiest up there, watching over his beautiful daugthers and wife. I also, want to pray for all those who turned their backs on you. May Allah guide each one of them to the right path. This makes me realize how we all have to go one day.. And that day could be tomorrow.

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    1. Ameen and thank you so much for those duas. You are right, we must remember them in our prayers too. Yes, life is fleeting and this tragedy has been a huge reminder. More reason for us to make the most of each day and to live the kind of life we can be proud of. Be blessed and thanks for your sweet words!

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  6. It breaks my heart that you had to go through this heart wrenching ordeal Nataliya. I know its been a while since we've talked and since your father passed away but I know healing after the loss of a parent can never be a fast or complete process. My heart goes out to your mom and your sisters and I pray that God gives you even more of the strength and patience that your father was so proud of you girls for inshAllah.

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    1. Ameen to your duas Urouj. Yes it is truly hard and the world is a different place without a dad, specially in Pakistan. More reason for us to cherish our loved ones. HOpe you and your girls are well. Hope to be in touch. xoxo

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  7. Nataliya <3 i am really very sad after reading this :'( How you controlled your tears :'( While reading this i got tears.And all the day i am thinking that ho waliya,taaiya,and nadaiya handle this situation:'( May your father soul rest in peace Ameen......
    *HATS OF TO YOUR MOTHER,YOU,WALIYA,NADAIYA....<3
    Lots of love..Be happy...."Akhir,har kissi ko iss duniya se jana hi hoga ek na ek din"...So,don't be sad... =) Allah is always with you and your family. <3 =)

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    1. Ameen to your duas Zunaira. Bas when Allah brings you to it, He does get you through it. We are blessed in so many ways and yes our mom is the biggest source of strength for us. She is the bravest woman I have come across. May Allah bless her always. Thanks for your sweet message. lots of love!

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    2. Yes!
      Stay blessed.
      Be happy.
      #loveyou.

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  8. Nataliya, I am really upset after reading this post, I definitely have a fear of losing my loved ones especially with such heartbreak when you are so ready to face the good! That is really a sad story when you all are ready with the warmth of your heart to face the good with real happiness and joy, but comes what, just a heartbreak after such prayers and duas :( That feeling is just like when you are forcing the nature to do what is good according to you, but you never know, maybe this incident left you memories and things to learn. A loss changes everything. Now that thought has overwhelmed my mind the grief behind that smiling face. But your daddy must be so proud of you and maybe, once you regret those things you dad used to say, and now you must be so happy, so glad and so comfortable with what he used to say. You and Waliya are blessed, you are making people put words of prayer for you and your papa jaan.
    P.S: May his soul rest always in peace. May Allah grant him place in Jannat-ul-Firdevs. Amen.
    Don't worry, look back and step ahead with confidence that there's always someone praying for you. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for this message. Wish you had left a name. Your duas mean the world. Ameen. Every person has a story and we don't always carry them on our faces. The world would be a better place maybe if we could see the struggles and pains all of us carry within ourselves:) BUT we truly are blessed. When Allah wills something bad your way, there is so much good that He sends your way too. Thanks so your words and God bless you!

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  9. Nataliya, I am really upset after reading this post, I definitely have a fear of losing my loved ones especially with such heartbreak when you are so ready to face the good! That is really a sad story when you all are ready with the warmth of your heart to face the good with real happiness and joy, but comes what, just a heartbreak after such prayers and duas :( That feeling is just like when you are forcing the nature to do what is good according to you, but you never know, maybe this incident left you memories and things to learn. A loss changes everything. Now that thought has overwhelmed my mind the grief behind that smiling face. But your daddy must be so proud of you and maybe, once you regret those things you dad used to say, and now you must be so happy, so glad and so comfortable with what he used to say. You and Waliya are blessed, you are making people put words of prayer for you and your papa jaan.
    P.S: May his soul rest always in peace. May Allah grant him place in Jannat-ul-Firdevs. Amen.
    Don't worry, look back and step ahead with confidence that there's always someone praying for you. :)

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    1. Nataliya, this is me, Nejia, sorry for the anonymous comment!

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    2. Thanks so much for this message. Your duas mean the world. Ameen. Every person has a story and we don't always carry them on our faces. The world would be a better place maybe if we could see the struggles and pains all of us carry within ourselves:) BUT we truly are blessed. When Allah wills something bad your way, there is so much good that He sends your way too. Thanks so your words and God bless you! xoxox

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  10. What could be worse than losing a parent. I cannot imagine the situation you all had gone through. Unfortunately Death is the worst reality of life or perhaps its the only reality. We wish time can go back but all wishes are not meant to be fulfilled. All we can do is pray for his happy life in the world he is in now. Wherever he is may Allah (swt) bless him with his mercy, bestow upon him His blessings and happiness. InshaAllah you dad is in much better place. May Allah grant your family the patience to bear this great loss. Ameen . LOve xxx

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    1. You are so right Mariam. It is perhaps the only reality and the one we forget so easily till something like this comes our way. More reason to make the most of our days and life a complete life. Thanks for your duas, Ameen to all of them. Allah is kind. Lots of love. Xoxo

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  11. this is so hearttouching i cant stop crying reading this :'( i seriously salute u n ur family for being this brave all i can say is Allah sees what others had done to u n they will be answerable ue to their behaviour.may ur father get the highest place in jannat.ameen

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    1. Ameen to your duas. At the end of the day we always have Allah. People change, they come and go, but what remains at the end is always His presence. I wish we were brave, we just had to get through what was send our way. Thanks so much for your words. xoxo

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  12. my dear friend. i know you dont know me much. i never commented on ay of your blog post, nor do you know me. still i love reading your posts. you are so brave, rather it reminds me of a quote 'you cant know how much brave you are untill you are left with no other option'. i lost all my words... allah tum sabka hami o nasir ho. and may you all be source opf sadqa'e-jariya for your parents. aor allah unkay wo jahan bhut achay karay. ameeen....
    p.s i wish one day we could meet in which only you talak and i listen, because you talk so beautifuly. i wish one day i could visit your house in islamabad particularly the corner of the house you have posted the pic above.

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    1. Mominah, you made my day!! You are most welcome to come visit! And about me talking only and you listening, we'll have to see what happens with that :p, not that I wont love to talk! But thank you so much for your message I am humbled and your duas mean the world. Ameen to all of them. I am thankful to the beautiful people I have come across through this little blog. May Allah bless you always. xoxo

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  13. Omg I don't have words to describe what I felt after reading this ! U guys are truly so brave and he's surely so so proud of his brave daughters !! N he is in a much much better place inshallah ! May you all have all the happiness in the world and may he always smile at you from up there :)

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    1. He truly is in a better place. Ameen to your duas and thank you so much for your message. Lots of love

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  14. profound and heart breaking! Your father was right! He does have brave daughters!

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    1. I wish we were. I guess Allah makes it easy for you and you have no choice but to be brave. He is all kind. Thanks for your words. xoxo

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  15. This is the most overwhelming real life experience I have ever read, your seems like the greatest person and one of those people everyone loves. My friend lost her dad last year, and she hasn't still recovered which kills us all daily. It is special how you three sisters have each others back. May Allah grant him jannah and may you all be strong for him.Ameen.

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    1. Ameen to your duas. Losing a parent is life altering. I am sorry for your friend's loss. May Allah make it easier for her every single day. What consoles me is the fact that we all have to go one day, and that after him I am his legacy and how I live my life will always reflect how he raised me. Tell her that. In time it will all make sense I guess. Thanks for your words. xoxo

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  16. All i know right now that since i read it i am crying endlessly ....B Brave ,Tis too shall pass. But never even think that u will ever get over with it . This pain vl live with always .I cannot do anything for u except to pray and that i will do for u , ur family and ur dad. cant write more right now ;(

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    1. Thanks for your prayers. Yes, there are some things you don't ever get over, you just learn to live despite them, and you learn to smile despite them. Allah is kind. He brings ease in hardship. Thanks for your message. xoxo

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  17. u know that u r God gifted with words and ur expression is just awesome ...i can feel from depth of my heart that u r a great writer to be ..dont loose that touch and keep working on it . God Bless.

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    1. Thanks so much. Means a lot to hear that. May Allah bless you. Love!

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  18. I seriously couldn't hold my tears back while reading this. I do follow your's and Waliya's FB page and from time to time, i have seen you both mentioning about your dad. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain you all must've gone through, i'm sure your dad will be very very very proud of you. May allah grant him a place in jannah and give you guys all the happiness.

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    1. Ameen to your duas and thank you so much for your message. Be blessed.

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  19. May his soul RIP! I literally was teary-eyed all along, as I read this post. More because I can relate how it is to lose someone so dear, near and important to us.. and that person being no one else but your dad!
    This gives me the strength to survive through to,o so thank you so much for that :)

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    1. It seems from your message that you experienced a similar loss. I am so sorry. May Allah help you and make it easier. Thank you for this beautiful message. Because I wrote this most of myself but also for anyone experiencing loss. God is kind and we all manage to get through. Lots of love.

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    2. Yes, lost my dad when I was just one-year old. And not even being able to remember his face or having any memory with him feels terrible. But God sure is kind, still moving strong Alhamdullilah, with my mom.
      Please remember us in your prayers.

      Stay strong!
      xx

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  20. May Allah give him high place in jannat.ameen
    My heart was crying while reading all this
    I can feel the pain,the restlessness of heart....as I gone through this kind of situation too.....but I must say u ppl were so brave. Its true k uncle ki betiyaan bht bahadur hain:)

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    1. Ameen. I am so sorry that you had to go through something similar. Allah is kind, may He make this easier for you. We just managed to get through, had to be brave for Papa and for each other. There was no other choice. Thanks for your words and be blessed. Love!

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  21. May Allah bless his soul. It's really hurtful to see such strong people in pain.
    Brought me down to tears. May Allah Bestow you and your family with patience.
    Hold in there, he's in a better place.

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    1. Ameen to your prayers Momina. True that, he is in a better place. InshAllah one day all of this will make sense. Thanks for your words. Lots of love!

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  22. Nataliya Jani
    You and your family have been so brave throughout. May Allah give u sabr as the pain will still be there and the heart will crave. May Allah grant uncle the highest ranks in jannat ul firdaus and make u a sadqai jariya for him. may ur writing this account be a means of thousands of people praying for him. all we can say is Inna lillahi wa inna ilai hi rajiun
    TO HIM WE BELONG AND TO HIM IS OUR RETURN

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    1. Ameen. Ameen. Those duas are beautiful. Thanks so much Sahar. When nothing makes sense, only these words, 'To Him we belong and to Him is our return' console and put it all in perspective.

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  23. Dear Nataliya,
    This is the first time I have visited your blog and although I am at work, I could not stop the tears that filled my eyes when I read your words. You have inspired me to put my story down as well. I went through a similar ordeal in April 2010 but unlike you, I only got a few hours to "say goodbye" to my dad if thats even possible. Sometimes I get afraid that I will forget his smile, his voice, his smell. Someday, I also want my kids to know him and they will now, thanks to you. May Allah grant you and your family even more sabr. Undoubtedly, your father is the proud-est man up there to have exceptional daughters like you. I am so sure of it :). Keep writing because your words mean to other people, much more than you think.

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    1. Reading your message means so much to me, I cannot begin to explain. Its full circle, maybe this is why I had this urge to put all this down in words. I'm so sorry to hear about your ordeal Sameea. May Allah bless your dad, and may all the dreams he had for you come true. I know exactly what you mean. Every time I dream of my dad, I wake up happy because his voice rings in my ears again and his face is infront of my eyes again because yes, I have this fear too, that as time goes by I hope I don't forget. One thing that has helped is something a friend mentioned when I was totally disturbed in the initial months. She suggested I write down his memories, his words. Anything that comes to mind, just write it down. And when our kids grow up, iA we will have lots of stories about their respective nanas. Whether we talk again or not, I will hold this comment of yours close to your heart and pray for peace for you and your family too. Love and best of luck!

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  24. Just went through your whole blog,beautiful collections,definately going to try your DIYs,You have inspired me to click more pictures,you have a lovely daughter,and the fact that she could look at all this and know what she wouldnt remember after many years is absolutely brilliant.I had a lump in my throat as I read this,pray to god your father is happy wherever he is,I am sure he is proud to have daughters like you..you guys are brilliantly talented!

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    1. Thank you so much Neha for your words. It means alot. Stay blessed and thanks for reading!

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  25. Bheni nadiya here. I didn't have the courage to read it before. Just read it. Its written so beautifully. Uff reminds us of soo much.... .it was so painful... MAy his soul rest in peace. Ameen

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  26. i can feel the pain you guys have been through .Its terrible, and when there is a flash back of all those bad times, it seems it happened just a day before.
    but up there, your papa is watching you, and will always be with you..

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    1. inshAllah. Thanks for your sweet comment and for stopping by!

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  27. This must have taken a lot of courage to be put down in words.
    May Allah Ta'ala grant your papa a place in Jannat-ul-Firdous.

    And, even though I don't know you guys personally nor your parents but I just asked my Baba about Uncle Najib, his head bowed down as he explained to me what had happened.

    See? You have no idea how many people are still praying for your Papa!
    InshaAllah he'll be among those who have the highest ranks in Jannah :)

    Much Love.

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    1. Aw your dad knew Papa? It is a small world and you're right, he was loved by so so many people and you only find that out when our loved ones leave the world. May Allah bless his soul. Ameen to your duas and thanks so much for your sweet comment.

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