I don’t care much for self-help books and self-proclaimed motivational leaders telling me to be grateful for this pandemic. I am not. I don’t believe I should ever be grateful for loss.
But I am grateful for the wisdom to recognize the abundant blessings life gifts us more often than we imagine, quietly.
13 years ago, my father placed his two warm hands on my cheeks and kissed my forehead. I did not know it would be the last. It was the same one I got every morning for 24 years until I moved out to start a family of my own. He would lean in to kiss my forehead while reciting verses from the Quran to wake me up for school, university, and work. (I never used an alarm.) I got that same kiss after I delivered every one of my girls. But the one that will never leave my forehead is the one life gifted me a few hours before he passed away, quietly like most of life’s blessings.
I read recently that a daughter like me at the other end of the world had to say goodbye to her mother on FaceTime as she struggled to take her last laboured breaths in isolation surrounded by plastic: masks, gloves, and robes. The COVID-19 virus I am told to be grateful for prevented her from holding her mother’s hand, kissing her forehead, praying in her ear. Their last memory will be a screen.
I have chosen to privately commemorate this day for the past 12 years —as I do every day of my life, with prayer. But lately, those quiet blessings have started to get noisy and loud. They need to be acknowledged.
I have at least four outfit changes a day. One for dog walks, one for exercise, one for the rest of the day, and one for prayer. They are all neatly folded in a special corner. I smile every time I change and recall how I used to tease you for the militancy of your routine. I never imagined I would be grateful for routine —and militancy.
Our dogs run our lives. Karma is real. You knew one day your three children will be whipped into shape —by adorable furry beings that will ensure we never sway from the program.
I get it. The world is magical at sunrise. It is a blessing only a few will enjoy. You are always with me then. I am so glad I get to experience some of what you enjoyed every sunrise.
Oranges are medicine. They have never tasted so good. I am grateful I have watched you perfectly peel them all these years. I humbly proclaim to be the world’s top orange peeler because I was taught by the sweetest, “bestest” of all. Some days I think my hands are turning orange. And as I drift off to sleep at the sharp hour of 10 every night, I swear I could smell oranges. They make me smile and think of you, with the basket of oranges on that small foldable table you moved around to peel our dessert after lunch and in the evening as we watched local news at 8. (The news hasn’t changed much by the way.)
I am grateful daddy, grateful for forehead kisses, sunrise walks, and oranges. I am grateful for your military genes, kindness, humility, and courage. Those self-help books and motivational gurus tell me I have to fill my own cup. They have never known you. They don’t know that I had my cup overfilled by the sweetest, bestest father of all.
You even kissed me goodbye before you left.
Are there puppies in heaven dad?