When death came, I shed no tears.

Listen to: Sometimes by Wes Willenbring.

Winter departs with just another soul escaping to the other side. She often wonders what this other side is. They speak of it greatly in movies and books; there is always an aura of white light depicted in pop culture. Then a soul leaves its body, just like that. She never witnessed a death, even in movies, she’d close her eyes afraid it would come after her. She would also skip paragraphs that spoke so beautifully about death, she failed to see the beauty of it. She could never come to peace with the idea of moving on so easily. Death is such an easy thing for the dead, they say. They will look over our shoulders from up above and guide us, they tell her.

—-

My grandfather passed away when I was in first grade. I remember coming home one day, running towards my mother’s room as I normally would, only this time her arms were not open wide to embrace me. They were wrapped around a wooden chair with her head leaned down. She was crying. This had been the first time I see my mother cry. I threw my big purple school bag on the ground and ran to her. The hallway leading to her room felt as though it was stretched longer than it normally was. I reach to her, kiss her forehead and pat on her head asking what had happened. Her voice was shaky, her crystal blue eyes shimmering with tears, she told me, “Jeddo ra7, noora. Jeddo ra7.”

I did not understand what she meant by him going, I just cried along. Her tears ached me. I have never seen my mother cry this much or be wearied by sadness for that long. We were not in Syria at the time and I think part of her being sad was because she did not get to see him one last time. I have only met my grandfather a few times back then, and my memory of him is quite hazy. He was tall with white hair, pale skin and blue eyes. They tell me I inherited my height genes from him.

Edna, my grandmother, still wears her ring after all these years. She has a picture of him in her bedroom. He was quite the handsome young man. She never tires of telling my sister and I stories of him whenever we visit. The most prevailing memory I have of him, however, was while hugging my mother as she cried him away that day.

My father grew up as an orphan. He often tells me of his beautiful mother and how she passed away at an early age. Grandpa re-married a few years later, as tale goes by, but my father tells me it is always different without a mother. Sometimes, he closes his door and listens to folk music about mothers. I dare not disturb his solitude, for death has shaken it to its core.

Death steals. Sometimes it comes unexpected and takes the young away, and at times, we feel its presence before it arrives. So we make space for it. We set aside our lives and feel a certain heaviness painting our days in grayscale. It comes in rescue of the ill and leaves a void within us. It is us, those who mourn, that feel it most. I believe the only time we do not feel the ache of death is when it comes for us.

I grew up fearing death for my loved ones that every night, before going to sleep, I would pray to God to keep my family safe. I would pray for each person in my family. I often cried as a kid. I never understood death. But my mother, she cried when it came. And my father, he closed his eyes in silence at its mention. So I cried, not because I understood it. I did not. But because everyone cries when death arrives. Then they smile.

Then in my early adolescent years, my friend died and I could not cry. Not one tear. At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. I still do not know why I could not cry, even when I wanted to. I think I cried in fear of death so much so that my tears ran out. I rarely ever cry. I do not know why. Crying gives such comfort and people always refuse it. I wish I could cope with my sorrows in tears. It would be easier to cry them away than to bottle them up like I always do.

Perhaps, this is why I am too cold, too heartless, too apathetic – because I could not cry when she died. I went on with my life. I refused to think of her. I packed her belongings in a box and gave them away. She gave me a novel once, I had forgotten its title. After she had passed I sat hours staring at the novel. I could not read for years. I could never finish a book. I always felt cheated with no endings to my novels. I wrote instead. I mark everything to read and leave novels unfinished. I only started to read this year. Every time I go to that place, right between the covers of a book, I see her shadow haunting me. I wish I could cry her away, even now, but I cannot. I am devoid of emotion. I am heartless. But I cried once, I was not always heartless.

  1. this is a really beautiful post
    and how big your heart is is really not proportional to the number of tears you shed

    my grandfather’s death was something that affected me as a child even though, like you, i was not in my country. it’s something i’ve blogged about once

    • Thank you for stopping by. Oh, my. I am sorry for your loss. I would like to read that, if you don’t mind.

    • Zain
    • March 5th, 2012

    our feelings towards death can never be explained..
    sometimes we cry hysterically, others we feel numb..

    your post reminded me of someone i know.. our friend died in a car accident 2 days ago, i went over to comfort her but she was unbelievably fine!
    she’s great at holding her tears.. but i know the volcano of emotions she holds behind that poker face of hers..

    human emotions are so complicated.. we don’t even understand ourselves!

    • Ah, yes. I too heard of someone dying due to a car accident in Sharjah a few days ago. Allah yra7mo.

      True, true. We are complex, but you see, emotions are raw. They can be as simple as we allow them to be 🙂

    • Qais Karadsheh
    • March 5th, 2012

    I’ve read this the day you posted it, just wanted to tell you how beautiful and touching it is; This is one of THE BEST things i’ve ever read. It made me think about life and dealth in a different new prespective. As you wrote: “I grew up fearing death for my loved ones that every night, before going to sleep.” This is the fear we all suffer from, or I suffer from, fear of dealth.
    Beautiful blog and a wonderful post!:)

    • Oh, my. Thank you for your kind words. The best? I doubt it could ever be ranked as such. Your flattery is quite amusing. Death is unknown, that is why we fear it.

      Thank you for passing by, you’ve put a smile on my face :).

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