January 2nd 

As a person of Muslim faith there are plenty of holidays that I don’t receive gifts or don’t celebrate. So as an adult I have come to appreciate the symbolism behind the gathering of family for good conversation and good food, not as a celebration but as appreciation for one another and our lives. I’ve come to accept that we as human beings need these times and holidays as reminders. We use them as reminders of love and thankfulness, and strength. I see them as somewhat of a re-boost to continue on with jobs, work, school and families that have been weighing on us.

For many of us the hardest part about the holiday season is opening gifts and smiling without one or maybe more than one person whom you’ve lost. Not always does is have to be a person because as many of us know pets are family too. But sometimes these joyous occasions of cheer and happiness become nothing more than a constant painful reminder that someone you love and miss is no longer present to share these moments. Sometimes we find ourselves in a bubble of reminiscent solitude while we play back memories of our loved ones. We harbor anger at their lack of presence. We dread the holidays.

My dislike for the holiday season is for that reason alone. For starters, he (my father) was diagnosed a year ago during thanksgiving break and his passing occurred on a Sunday almost exactly one year later during thanksgiving break. So, not only do I dislike the thought of gathering for these holidays but I dislike the pain and discomfort I feel. A discomfort knowing that I should be happy and jolly and enjoy the company of those whom are still here but I can’t. I am burdened with thoughts and reminders of sickness, illness, chemo, radiation, surgery, and now death.

Yesterday has been one month since his passing and I would like to share with everyone and anyone that holidays, traditions, and special occasions are hard when someone you’re missing is missing. Be kind and understanding to those of us who find comfort in lonely corners. Be patient with those of us who seem to not want to participate but instead stay home. Refrain from anger when phone conversations have become shorter and shorter. But more importantly be conscious of us. Be mindful that we do not face our struggles alone. Offer comfort and a listening ear when the time is right. We are learning how to be and how to function without this person and that takes time. Some longer and more painful than others, but painful nonetheless. Help us to help ourselves.

To those of you who are like me and may be suffering through the holidays and new year while missing a special someone, be strong. Be faithful. January 2nd is coming and the holidays will take a short hiatus so that we may breathe just a little bit more. 

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Diagnosis: Cancer

The lump in his throat has become the cause for the lump of tears in mine. Family history? No. Smoking, drinking? No and no. Yet that demon chose to reveal its ugly presence in the first man who could ever love me. It had taken him from a once strong, stern voiced, red beard, cool walking Pops to a broken, afraid and frail man. He was not someone I recognized or wanted to become familiar with. All images of him in this limp and sick state I blocked from my mind. But with blocking the images I would at times block his feelings and concerns. Blocking myself from dealing with the reality that this situation is beyond our control. The dynamic duo who never let anyone or anything tell us a belief contrary to our own. We were struggling. Struggling to see eye to eye. You were struggling to believe that God would see you through and I struggled to convince you of the same. Faith had been tested and limits had been pushed. Talk of giving up but actions that did not follow, thankfully. I distanced myself from you afraid to see you bend and you were hurt. Asking questions like ” I thought you would visit?” I know what I said and I came once and that was enough because I stared into your sunken eyes and outlined your slim jawline with mine. I saw the same concern and fear that trickled within my conscious each night when I prayed for you. For your wife, my mother, for our family. And that fear pumped deep within you ten times stronger than I could ever imagine. Because this was your fight, no it was ours! No this is not a battle that we asked to partake in but here we are. Staring the possibility of death in its grim and ugly face. It will not win because you are still fighting. We are still fighting. Perhaps an easier fight this time but God willing, we will win.