2015 was a year of loss for me, but more importantly I wanted to reflect on all that I gained.
I lost a love and I gained purpose
On New Year’s Eve this year I lost one of the most important people in my family, my dear grandmother. As difficult as it is not being able to say good bye to her, especially when she was half way across the world. From this loss I gained purpose. Let me explain. Reflecting on my grandmother’s life leaves me astonished, my mother never fails to mention how my grandmother spent every day preparing for the day she would meet our creator. She stood by her daily prayers, up until her last day on this earth. She gave to the poor without looking to see if she had enough for herself, which of course, by the grace of Allah she always did.
Every time I spoke to my grandmother on the phone, or the times I visited her in Egypt recently, prayers were never absent from her lips. She prayed for her family, for her late husband and son, for every single one of her 10 living children, their spouses, children and her grandchildren, for all Muslims and even for Egypt! You get the point. My grandmother loved in a way that is indescribable. And to show her love for others she prayed for them. Prayer from her lips was more valuable than any worldly possession.
The Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings upon Him, was quoted to have said:
“Live in this world as a stranger. If you live till night, then do not wait for the next day, and if you wake up in the morning do not have hope that you will live till the night. And take advantage from your health before your sickness and take advantage of your life before your death (i.e. do every possible obedience in your life before death comes to you for then no deeds can be performed.)”
My grandmother gave to the poor, gave to her children, their children and their grandchildren with love and prayer. She lived her life in a way that I admire, in the way the Prophet (PBUH) commanded humanity to live on this earth. This loss gave me purpose that reminded me of the real reason we are on this earth, and that is to give to others and prepare for the only guarantee in life, death.
I lost trust and I gained self worth
Trust, I have learned, is one of the most fragile things we have. Once it has been broken or shattered, putting it back together is impossible. I find myself to be overly trusting of people. Maybe you would even say gullible. But it wasn’t until this past year that someone took my trust and manipulated it. How you ask? Well, I made the human error of trusting someone with my emotions. This is easily the most vulnerable state someone could ever bring upon themselves. It is when we trust someone, wholeheartedly with our emotions that we can get the most damaged. Some may say I am jaded or bitter, but I like to refer to this experience as bringing about self worth. To gain my trust, someone will need to break through barriers, tear down walls and fight like hell to prove their place in my life. Your trust is precious, and I have learned that you should only give it to those who deserve and earn it.
I lost friends and I gained lovers
“Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are”.
I feel as though some of us go through life collecting acquaintances and mistaking them for friends. I have decided to stop trying to be everyone’s friend. I always felt inclined to accept invitations to birthday, showers, gatherings etc. When in reality we don’t need to feel obligated to be around people we don’t want to be around. It’s really that simple. We have to be so extremely careful who we make memories with, considering those things last a lifetime. I admittedly get anxiety in social settings. I am always self conscious of my every move. For those who know me, reading that may come as a surprise. Well, surprriiseeee. Every time I go somewhere I think about: what I’m wearing, what I’m saying, who is looking at me, hidden meanings when someone responds to me etc. This may very well be because I am an analytical person but I have grown to realize that I don’t need to be in these situations that make me feel that uncomfortable. I don’t need to surround myself with “friends” when I can instead be around people I love, who I can be myself around and those thoughts don’t ever cross my mind.
Oh, as for the quote at the start of this section, I put it there as a reflection and a reminder, to myself of course. That when I get these invitations I need to think about who I will be surrounding myself with and if that’s who I want to be. Think about it Hoda, do you really want to be around these people? Do they reflect who you want to be as a person?
I lost expectations and I gained peace
I give way more than I get. My family tells me this, my friends tell me this and even people I barely know tell me this. I am, by nature, a giver. I am told I get this trait from my mom and my late grandmother. But unlike them, I always assumed that the same respect, appreciation and love I give others I would get back. Reflect and receive. Right? Wrong. I always saw this quote floating around:
“You’ll end up real disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you”
Time and time again, I found myself bending over backwards, crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t move a muscle or cross a puddle for me. At one point this made me more than disappointed, it made me feel as though I was being taken for granted, it made me angry and pretty much miserable. I resolved to stop doing nice things because I would never have the favor returned. And then I learned, only after I was hurt in a way beyond my wildest thoughts, that I was not doing these things to get anything in return. I was doing nice things for others because it was my nature. I am programmed to be a giver and I should not be ashamed or change the way I am because of disappointment. I truly believe the universe will in one way or another reflect those things back to me. So no, cold people, you didn’t break me, you just made me stronger and showed me the light. I gained inner peace knowing that I gave all I could and even if I get nothing in return at least I can sleep at night.