Life and suffering

Today I was working at our store and the owner of the store next to us, a nice, strong and vibrant woman from Mexico came with her family members in late evening. She hadn’t come to run her shop in over two weeks because of a brain tumor. Seeing her frail, weak and being literally carried by the arms by her sons brought tears to my eyes. In just those two weeks much has changed and she is no longer the same woman. The fact that she still came in her condition to inspect the store she loves and built from the start demonstrates her strength and will power.

We had been neighbors for several years and I remember every-time I saw her, she would be doing something to make her shop better. Painting the walls, rearranging the items this way or that way. Full of energy and life. She is kind, always has a smile on her face and we always greet each other with Hola. As neighbors whenever one needs change, to break a bill or borrow scissors and similar neighborly exchanges, she is the first person we go to and we are the first people she comes to.

To see her today very weakened and being so helpless was very overwhelming for me. I went to her shop to say hello. I never know what to say in these situations. There is nothing to say really, only to show up and hopefully that could be of comfort. She was being encircled by loved ones. I decided it was not a good time, so I will try again to see her tomorrow. I am very happy she is surrounded by love and support, it is a life treasure to have people that support you in your darkest hours.

When my grandfather passed last December and my grandmother not long before him, two years prior, may God rest their souls, there was much sorrow in our family, especially for my mother to lose her parents. It was the first time for me that death had been so intimate. And although nothing could be done to bring them back, it was uplifting to have so many people around the house, mostly for my mother’s sake to have women peers around. Just having the chaos of people talking, telling stories, reading prayers, coming in and out to visit was for that time being comforting, overwhelming the creepy silence and the mourning thoughts. The importance of having a social support had never been more profound to me and I see being alone as a calamity so much so that I pray against its affliction. We all need somebody.

Today was a reminder about this irony called life. Before the moment I saw her from the window come out of her van surrounded by her family members, I was stressing out about everything going in my life or should I say all the things not going right in my life, the number one stress factor at the moment being no news for school entrance next year and it was very humbling to watch the scene of our neighbor. How easily could that be my beloved mother and I that offspring holding her hand. May God protect us from calamity. May God grant us good health, as there is nothing more important than health.

I used to hear this saying, a Somali saying, “Balaayo Intay kaa maqan tahay qof kale ayey ku maqan thay”. Meaning, while tragedy or calamity is not visiting you, it is visiting, in other words causing havoc for someone else. It seems as if this world is designed sooner or later to make us suffer and break our hearts. May God protect us from calamity. May God restore her health.


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