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18 Years Ago You Left Me

18 Years Ago You Left Me

By on March 20, 2015 in personal stories

March 20, 2015

18 years ago you passed away- at the young age of 58. You didn’t want to go. We didn’t want you to go. But these things are not up to us. We weren’t ready to live life without you in it. And like everything else you did in life- you faced it head on with dignity. There was nothing more they could do; and, I was so mad at the doctors for stringing us along and acting so flippant. And you saw your mom. And other signs. And we said, “I love you” constantly. As if you might die before we said it enough.  And I rushed to make you homemade banitza. You taught me how to make it- remember? By recalling the memory of watching your sisters make it. And in my stress- nothing became more important to me than making you some- though it really made no sense. And you had no appetite but you ate some anyway and smiled so sweetly- telling me it was “fantastic!” That moment and your smile is like a still photo in my brain. Right before you fell into the coma. And we stayed vigil. Until all of us surrounded you, clinging to you and with my hand on your forehead, I felt your soul emerge from your lifeless body- and I felt your most enormous grin you could have mustered in life- as you hovered above. Floating past and out the window.  You were finally free from the suffering.  So then- it was like a boulder thrust into my gut and having the wind knocked out of me.  For a year, I lived in state of duality. Part of the time living life, working, travelling, falling in love and planning my life. Part of the time, fighting through the gut wrenching grief that would put me in a choke-hold and torment me in the shower when the water rushed over my face. Or when I was driving in my car on the way to visit a client and not sure if I could make it through. Wondering if they would be able to tell I had been crying as I had fought the downtown traffic. Or randomly. Out of nowhere. For no reason. An instantaneous flip of a switch. Sometimes my love would look at me and say, “Tata?” And I would nod through my hot tears.  I know you could see me going through that from where you are- and I didn’t want to pain you. But I’m your daughter and you were my Papa and it is what it is.

I found it ironic for you to die on the first day of Spring. I felt anger that you had to endure winter only to be snatched within the first few hours of a new and bright season. But then I told myself it was Springtime for you on your new journey to the other side. It was appropriate.

You’ve come to me in my dreams when I’ve needed you most. And you’ve come to me while I’ve been awake. And it’s so amazing. How can anyone not believe in God and the afterlife? The proof is there. And I won’t talk about those moments. They are ours. And I’m not ruining them by sharing them or ruin my chances of you visiting me again. But if you don’t, it’s okay. There is no burden I need to put on you.

me n TatSo it’s 18 years- and that is the amount of time a person grows from birth into an adult. You’ve been gone that long. But if you walked into my kitchen right now and sat down- we would talk for hours as if no time had passed at all.

So thoughts of you are overwhelming me this morning. How- if you were here- you would  surely say, “Pffft. Screw it. Let’s get out of here and get some coffee.”  We would blow off whatever was on the agenda for the day and go explore somewhere. I loved that about you. You floated through this life the way the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said to – like a traveller. Never truly falling in love with this life – though you loved life. And you loved people. The perfect mix. Thank you for teaching me that!

Tata Accordio

God rewarded me for my grief. When my daughter was born looking half like her father,   the man I love- and half like you- my first love. What a gift to see you in her face each day. alhamdulillah  And he rewarded me again when he granted the gift of music to my son. Just like his grandfather, he sits down with his instrument (you – accordion, him – piano) and just plays by ear and just sings. Just.Like.You.  What did I do to deserve these gifts that have softened my heart and made this life so much easier to endure? God is surely the Greatest.

You cursed the heavens when the nurse told you I was born. A girl. What the hell were you going to do with a girl? And then when I was grown, you said you had no idea how daughters care for their fathers- and that you wished you had twelve of me. haha Thanks for saying that. I know I was loved- I won’t need therapy now- at least not for feeling unloved anyway. haha

Your manly strength has ruined me in life as I put every man I meet past the Tata test. No one matches up. Some get close – but none match up. And that’s why I speak up for myself because no one makes sense to me who doesn’t have the love for humanity as you did. (If you care not for humanity- I really don’t have a lot in common with you. And I have things I’m trying to do … )

Thank you, Papa, for teaching me to critically think.  To a fault.  Thank you for teaching me the secrets of the male brain.  🙂  Your open and honest dialogue with me on these subjects have made me into the person that I am today.  Thank you for enriching me with faith.  Thank you for showing your love to the world and for loving me.  Thank you for making every person that came into your presence feel like they were the most important person in the world.  You had such a gift of that.  To the point that my friends came over to see you instead of me. (wtf)  Thank you for always … always ….  accepting life’s challenges and disappointments with a “c’est la vie!” attitude.  You would smile when life handed you lemons. We would look at you like you were a lunatic. And then you would explain how it means another door is opening – and you can’t wait to see what is behind it!  MashAllah.   Thank you for leading by example – being raised by a man who had submitted his ego to our Creator in the ultimate acceptance of divine truth.  Oh- you were stubborn! And not always easy to get along with! But your stubbornness was your own jihad. And your love of God always showed through in the end.

I miss our pet jokes and our sweet nicknames; our harmonica wars and your stories of the old country- your antics- your bravery- and your amazing short life. I miss your ridiculous love of food – you talked about it almost poetically.  And your love of animals. You missed your sheep and goats and rams and when you would see them- you would kiss them on the nose. I miss your sincerity. You never lied. About anything. No matter how painful or hurtful or bitter tasting it was. That is one of the most amazing things about your legacy- your sincerity.

When I find myself lecturing my kids on long car rides to sunday school – about life and love and faith – I realize how much your words really were sticking and shaping me.  You stay alive through our lives as we carry on the values that you ingrained in us.  We’re an emotional and passionate and wierd family.  And the wierdness is being carried on- I can guarantee you that much.

Until we meet again, my Papa.  I love you.  Keep a spot open for me wherever you are.  And be at peace.



About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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