Culture & Society · Faith & Spirituality · Family & Relationships · Food & Health · Recollections & Reflections

Ruminations on mortality

This afternoon, as I was trekking my way back to my car, I almost got run over. Apparently, the driver didn’t realize he had to make a full stop at a stop sign at an intersection of a university where there are people crossing pretty much during all hours of the day.

Sure, it was raining and the roads were slick. Maybe I should have waited, even though I had the right of way. But having the right of way does not matter. I keep thinking of that poor girl who was killed by a school bus a few months ago — she had the right of way, too. It’s almost like you have to assume that every driver on the road is distracted when you are a pedestrian.

I saw the car from the corner of my eye moving toward me. Immediately, I thought the dude was deliberately speeding because he saw me. When people are less than nice to me, I always automatically assume it’s because of the hijab. I later realized, he was just a distracted little student (I was wearing my parka hood – there’s no way he would have known I am Muslim).

My first reaction was to try to stop the car with my hands, I kid you not. Alhamdulillah, the kid was doing a rolling stop and saw me in time to come to a complete break right before he would have hit me.

I saw the look on his face – I think he was surprised, too. But no sorry. He just drove off. I was angry. You couldn’t even say sorry? But what was I going to do? Go all Britney on him and take out my useless umbrella and smash his windows? The thought did occur for a second. But, I was reminded of the sunnah, so I did not. I felt like my heart leaped up to my throat. I think it took the entire 30 minute drive back home for me to recover from what just happened and what could have happened.

I found out this morning that an aunt (a widow of my dad’s cousin) had passed away from cancer. I wasn’t close to her. But I kept thinking about the fact that her one son didn’t visit her before she passed. I can’t go into the reasons why, as I don’t really know. But can you imagine losing your husband in a tragic car accident when your only son was still a little boy and then to die almost 45 years later and not have that son be with you during your final days on this earth?

Death is always around us. But all of this happening today? Is God trying to tell me something?

I drive by the Crown Hill Cemetery every day to and from work; and just this week I noticed a little bench outside the grounds that has the following inscription: “Embrace mortality.” Now, I don’t know if this was something the cemetery did, as it’s outside the fencing, or something a resident painted on. But either way, the point is clear. As soon as we are born, there is only one thing in this life that we are guaranteed: death (I know the saying is “death and taxes,” but we all know that not everyone pays their taxes. Only us peons who can’t afford trickster accountants and don’t have offshore accounts).

I won’t say that I almost died today. I could have gotten seriously hurt… But I’m fine. Sh. Hamza Yusuf once said that we should think about death constantly. Not yearning for it, but knowing that it will happen and it serving as a reminder to be moral people in all situations.

I can’t say that I think about my own personal death everyday. There are still so many things I would like to do – have children one day, cook a meal that I want to eat, grow old with Mr. Rafia, etc.

But none of that is a guarantee. Especially that “cooking a good meal” bit.

In all seriousness though, we like to think we know how things are going to turn out in our lives. And we have all the ambitions to make them a reality! But we are proven wrong every single day. Being reminded of death today makes me appreciate the little moments I take for granted.

All of it is a gift unearned.

6 thoughts on “Ruminations on mortality

  1. When I was learning how to drive, my paranoid mother taught me to always assume other drivers are going to be idiots – so be extra cautious. Better safe than sorry.

    It was irritating at first, but I realised it’s good advice. Even as a pedestrian, it seems.

    These kinds of things are wonderful reminders, but sadly they fade away too soon. For me, at least.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know how it would be to remember death every day.. sometimes I think it would push me to be more active in achieving what I want for myself but then I think maybe its a reality check to instead slow down, let go and focus on the state of my heart instead. I dont know how to achieve harmony with the two (I say harmony and not balance as I guess everyone’s level of balance is different, and I read somewhere that my balance doesn’t need to be yours, so long as yours is harmonious with your life, if I make sense? lulz)

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  3. You can cook a good meal – just blind follow a small, basic recipe from someone you trust! When you accomplish it you’ll feel more confident in subsequent attempts. I was the same until I absolutely HAD to learn to fend for myself, lulz

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s true, which is why we get reminders so frequently. Sometimes I feel like I read too much into things. But if it motivates me to do good, then I guess it’s fine, right?

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  5. Haha, that makes sense! I have that difficulty too. But it’s not really the act of interpretating that’s the problem for me. For me, I think it’s a reflection of my indecisiveness. Do I push through the pain or relax and take it easy? It’s a fine balance… Or harmony as you might say ;)

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  6. I guess my problem is that I try to wing recipes and end up make substitutions I should not have. I don’t have the foundations pat down, but I look at a recipe and I get daunted by all the steps and lack of ingredients on hand! And the less I cook, the more of a nuisance it seems. :(

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