“Why her?” A pseudo-philosophical ontology

Two days ago, a young student at the school I work at was fatally struck by a school bus. She was someone from the Muslim community, though I didn’t know her and had never seen her before. But I know people who knew the girl and her family.

The fact that it happened right in front of the building I work at and that she was a hijabi made me think about her death more than any other everyday death would have. I couldn’t help but think, “what if that were me?”

First of all, I don’t at all think this poor young lady was targeted because of her faith. I think the driver was just distracted. But I am a bit shocked, because bus drivers are supposed to be safe drivers. From preliminary reports, it seems the girl had the right of way when the bus driver hit her while she was crossing the street.

I don’t know the full details, but whatever facts do eventually surface, it doesn’t change the fact that a young girl died.

One of my friends texted me asking if I had heard what happened. I hadn’t until I came home later that day. She later told me that she went to visit the girl’s family to give condolences and mentioned that the look on the mother’s face seemed unbearable.

I can’t imagine the pain her family is going through. I am not a parent, but I would assume that no parent wishes to see the day where they outlive their child. It seems to go against the natural order of things. It’s tough when you lose someone you love, no matter how old they are. I still to this day think of my maternal grandmother and my uncle Baba from time to time, even though they were in their 70s and were suffering from illness when they died. I have such vivid memories of both. With the former, I still feel so much guilt for not having had the kind of relationship a granddaughter ought to have had with her grandmother and with the latter, gratefulness to have had the love of a “second father” in a world where blood is thicker than water.

This young girl however was so young (18 or 19 years old), presumably healthy. It’s particularly sad to hear about someone this age dying and so unexpectedly at that. She’d been on this earth long enough to have affected people, made experiences, but not quite long enough to experience the full life cycle. She won’t get to graduate from college, get married, or have kids one day. For some of us, that will never be our reality. But this girl won’t even have that opportunity.

As a Muslim, death is not something to fear or avoid talking about. Actually, our scholars tell us to think of it often. YOLO is not an acronym any practicing Muslim should live by (although when it comes to cake, it seems that I subconsciously do). Death should be a reminder for us all that the life we live in this world, our actions, our intentions, do matter.

In some ways, this girl is being saved from the ugliness of this world. She was young and more pure than many of us still living. That’s what a eulogy written by a friend of hers on Facebook seemed to suggest. And while I do believe it’s true… I think it’s also natural to want to have a good long life in this world, too.

Why did God decide to take her and leave me and the rest of us still living on this planet? We won’t ever know. And if you don’t believe in God, I don’t think your answers are any more rational than mine. In fact, I find the very fact of death to be faith-affirming. I’m sure there are some that would argue that believers cling to God in the uncertainties of life because it makes us feel better, but I say to them…. *Googles for 10 minutes* Man, I remember reading a great defense of this failed logic for a class! I did, I know I did! Was it Descartes’s ontological argument? I can’t remember! DARN IT! I know it wasn’t Anselm’s. UGH. THIS IS VERY FRUSTRATING.

Okay, I’m alright.

What was I saying?

If anything, death reminds me to be grateful for all the things I do have, two loving parents and siblings, a husband whom I love even if he is messier than I would have preferred, my friends, even if I met most of them within the past 5 years, etc. I have a lot to be grateful for. We all do.

I can spend hours ruminating over why God chose to keep me and everyone else still alive. Maybe it’s because we all have more things to achieve in this world. Maybe it’s because God wants to give us more time to come back to Him. Maybe it’s both… I don’t know. But in the midst of trying to rationalize the why, I’m reaffirming my faith in God and that there are some things we human beings can never know. That doesn’t mean we stop asking, just that we learn to accept our limitations and the limitlessness of God when we find no answers.

Visiting the Past/Waiting on the Edge

Four and a half months to the day. Almost exactly.

I had assumed it was going to be a one-time thing.

Once is more than plenty; but to have this happen twice in my life?

I don’t believe in coincidences. But I do believe we get the messages we need in forms that are best suited to our nature.

Do you ever wonder, when you have sudden jolts in your own life, that it is God desperately trying to tell you something? God does not have to be desperate. But we human beings can be so blind.

I, for one, am not very good at picking up on subtle hints.

I know God was trying to tell me something the first time.

I needed that first time. That first time saved my life. It was what allowed me to finally leave a job that had messed with my head and sense of well-being. It was what gave me the gall to finally apply to my dream school for graduate studies, thus ushering the phase of my life that I now am most fond and proud of.

Many factors went into making June 13, 2015, Commencement Day, a reality – most obviously, the financial and physical support from my immediate family.

But I know what set it all in motion was that jolt from God (and of course, God’s consistent and constant reinforcement – but that’s not what this post is about)

This week I believe I received my second jolt.

But what is God telling me this time?

Is it really just “don’t stress” like my family has been telling me my entire life? Really? It’s gotta be something more than that!

I know I can’t force a meaning out of this (or anything for that matter). I will only find meaning in whatever happens in retrospect, like with all things in life. But I definitely do want to be more intentional about the things I do and am responsible for. Am I unknowingly drinking haterade? Do I really need to suffix that compliment with a “but”? Is refusing to acknowledge a Facebook friend’s birthday because she didn’t acknowledge mine really a beef worth having? I’m obviously having a lot of fun with this list.

What are you going to do differently now?

It’s a question Mr. Rafia posed to me a few days ago; and it’s worth repeating. As much as I hate to admit, that boy sure has a way of bringing me down to earth, reminding me that there always is a spiritual provenance.

There surely was the first time.

I might not get all the answers this time when I want them. Or even if I do, I might not like what I hear. But I have a feeling that I will be getting something.

I just have to be willing to listen.