We buried someone else today.
My grandfather’s brother, the last of them.
There have been so many deaths lately. You hear of them, the people close to you who have lost people close to them, you grieve and you mourn and you feel for them, but there’s nothing like actually seeing a body wrapped in its kaffan to have reality hit you in the face.
To make you realise that one day, it’s going to be you up on that table, wrapped in white, hopefully with lots of loved ones looking on, sad to have lost you.
It’s going to be you at the start of that journey – death is another part of life, after all – being carried to the grounds, with loads of people accompanying you, only to be put into a new house of sand and mud and left all alone, footsteps echoing as they fade.
It’s going to be you who may have your life flash before your eyes and wonder why you did the things you did, hurt the people you did, didn’t spend enough time with the ones who loved you, or wasted time like you did. Wasted life. For what?
Living life might be perceived as living on the edge, for the thrill, daring to push boundaries, to have fun and enjoy it. And that might be so if it makes you appreciate it all the more. If it makes you realise that your end is going to be same as those who have not lived as you have. And yet, not quite the same.
The value of your life will be determined by how many people you helped, how many lives you made better, how much you cared and showed your love. Not how much money you made or how badly you rebelled. In the end, it’s going to be about your deeds, your ‘ibadah, and your relationship with Allah (swt).
It seems insensitive to have to prepare for the crowd that follows: make sure the house is clean, furniture is moved to provide space for visitors, prepare drinks, etc. But more people than needed were clamouring to do these mundane tasks, just to keep their hands busy and their minds somewhat occupied.
The guests poured in. We spoke of the deceased, of good memories, and of how strange it’s going to be without him. We spoke of life and the issues that claim our time daily, we met people after years, as well as those for the first time. It’s things like this that bring people together.
We cried, we hugged, we laughed; it was a wave of emotion.
In some ways, it was as though time had stopped still, and yet in others it was as though life had already moved on.
As time for the janazah drew nearer, the crowd was amazing. The house was so packed it was hard to breathe.
With the mosque just next door, the body was taken there to pray, and then they left to the burial grounds.
It was a beautiful sight: all the cars and vans and three-wheelers and motorbikes that poured out of the mosque parking lot and followed one another, stuffed with all the men carpooling to get there, along with the bus loads of all the people in the area. SubhanAllah.
While everyone mourned the loss of a person, I think it was only fair that we think about what’s to come for him: and pray for an expanded grave, for the family to be able to undergo this tragedy, for his final destination to be the best place, and that his meeting with his Lord is beautiful.
Seeing death puts one’s life in perspective, makes you realise what is truly important.
May this serve as a reminder to all of us – that this life isn’t all there is to it – and may we not just have to have death as a reminder.
“Every soul will taste death..” (3:185)
The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end, except for three: A continuous charity, knowledge by which people derive benefit and a pious son who prays for him.” [Sahih Muslim]