We do not know anything about the manifestations of grief save through sharing. Most sharing in life is done by talking, but that offers problems (to the understanding). Human beings are often competitive, and will attempt to outdo one another. The grieving person, much like the mother evaluating childbirth just passed or the sick person analyzing his or her own illness and suffering, may have to fall back upon other personal experiences. In other words, an individual is often compelled to compare his/her feelings at one point in life with his/her feelings experienced at another point in life, and disregard all other testimony.
So I write these words to help myself and help anyone who might find comfort in them. Someone dear to me, a second mother for many years, has died. Her death has shattered me, just like my own dear mother’s death.
I lost my mother to an aneurism of the brain on Valentine’s Day when I was only 25 and she, 46. I flew to San Francisco to be by her bed. Later I found she was struggling to accept my conversion to Islam and marriage to a Saudi, for she was reading Robert Lacy’s The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Sa’ud.
Now I have lost my ex mother in law, Mama Juwaheir, a Saudi woman who died at a date a few days removed from my mother’s death date. I had no idea of the irreversible nature of Mama Juwaheir’s recent illness until I received the blow of her death. While I have been divorced almost a dozen years, I have visited Mama Juwaheir almost every summer since leaving my marriage. It was she who became my comfort and who showed, in so many ways, that she loved me. Through loving me, she made me love her back unconditionally, as I did love my own mother.
In the aching of the days following death of such beloved people, one wants nothing so much as to talk to them. Throughout the day, like the fasting person who forgets he or she is fasting and thinks about food, I yearn to speak to her. I feel like I am writing these things into a deep but narrow hole into the universe, for to say such things to Mama Juwaheir’s real children would be to usurp their positions. Their grief MUST be greater than mine, and I respect that. I will deal with my grief, God willing, as best I can and thank the Creator for allowing me to have such a splendid person in my circle of loved beings. I miss her every hour upon the hour and do pray for her to be in the shade of the Throne.
Someone once attempted to usurp my grief, when my mother died—a young woman, former friend, who made out to be suffering more than I, her daughter.
The callousness of this former intimate made my skin crawl and the ugliness of its memory haunts me still. God forbid it should be my sin. May God bless Mama Juwaheir and bring comfort to her family.