What are the lessons we learn after the sudden loss of a family member?
I published my last article in the summer of 2016, and since then I have been suffering from writer’s block. I don’t know the reasons behind that block, but one thing I am sure about, is the fact that not being able to write is very painful. Writing for me is a way of expressing my feelings and a relief from the daily stress or pressures I might go through in life.
Today, I am back to writing to convey to you an experience I have gone through recently. An experience that made me realize that life is too short, so we need to utilize that time and spend as much time as possible with our loved ones and give them the love and appreciation they deserve.
A few weeks ago, I lost a family member who symbolized the true definition of purity and peace through his character. My uncle Murtatha was not a regular person, he had a heart full of peace and love without limitations. His death was a shock to the family.
His suffering began when he was diagnosed with cancer about 3 months ago. This was a surprise to us all. Yes, he was old, but he was in good shape for his age. His health deteriorated so quickly, and we received news about his worsening health condition daily. It was then that I decided to fly to Bahrain and pay him a visit in the hospital. As soon as I arrived in Bahrain, I went straight to the hospital.
I was hoping to see him and remind him of the days when he used to take me swimming in Khatt Springs. I wanted to remind him of the stories he used to tell me about his life between Ras Al Khaimah and Bahrain. I had so many things in mind, but none of it was possible. When I reached the hospital, I came to know that the night before I arrived, he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I was in complete shock; I didn’t know what to do. I was confused and had mixed feelings about the situation. The fact that he was transferred to the ICU meant that he was at a higher risk from what I expected.
I rushed to the ICU, but I was not allowed to visit him. I was asked by the security guards to sit in the waiting area until the doctors allowed visits. There were many people in the waiting room including other family members. Everyone was busy reading the Quran and praying for their loved ones. After almost an hour, they started allowing people to visit but it was very restricted. Only one person per patient would be allowed in at any given time and was allowed a total of 5 minutes.
As much as I was eager to enter the ICU and see him, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to anymore because seeing other people visit their loved ones and leaving the ICU with their eyes full of tears made me anxious. While I was busy thinking, the security guard called me and said: “Sir, it is your turn now. You may enter the room. Your patient is in room 6 on the right”. I was hesitant as well as scared and did not want to enter. I asked my brother to go in first, but he refused and asked me to enter the room before him.
With every step towards the ICU, my heart beats increased. The short distance to room 6 seemed to be very long. I didn’t have any choices but to go into his room. The room didn’t have a door; just a curtain separating him and me. As I stood at the entrance, I could not go any further. With so many questions hitting me all at once, I did not know what to do. I kept asking if I should go closer to him or just look at him from a distance. The nurse stepped back so I can get closer to him, but I couldn’t move.
He was lying on the bed, surrounded by medical equipment, and during my stay with him, I didn’t notice any sign of life. I stood there looking at him and remembered every conversation we had, every moment and memory we had shared. At that moment, I wished he would wake up, so I would remind him of our moments together. In those 5 minutes I wished for so many things, but I guess it was too late.
I left the room with my eyes full of tears. It is not easy to see your loved ones helpless when you can’t do anything to help them out. As I walked out of the ICU and moved away from the waiting room; I had to hide my tears from my sister and cousin who waited for me outside. I didn’t want them to be devastated and had to pull up my strength and come back to the room and be with them.
I could not stay long as I had to go back to the UAE and wasn’t sure whether I would see him again or not. I asked my sister to keep me posted with developments of his health. I left the hospital hoping his health condition would improve. I still had hope for a miracle.
Unfortunately, the miracle did not happen, and my uncle passed away the next day. It was a big loss. On that day, I wished I could throw myself on my late grandmothers’ lap just like when I was a child when my mom used to yell at me.
I felt very lonely, and I was in pain. However, being surrounded by my friends and family eased it. Although death is a fact that we have to accept, it is the feeling of loss that is more painful. Since that day I have decided to give my family more time and attention because they truly deserve it.
May you rest in peace, my great uncle. You will be truly missed.
Abdulla holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. His abstract passion for history and literature with a hint of photography adds to his noble enduring quality. Abdulla enjoys visiting museums, art exhibitions and likes to spend his spare time in the outdoors. His column “Emirati Reflections” is a mixture of stories from the past and insights of the present, which blend together and formulate his understanding of the UAE’s culture.