Siti Humairah
Early Childhood Educator

Assalamualaikum Humairah! Tell me more about yourself.

Waalaikumussalaam! I’m 25 this year. I take a long time to warm up to people. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. While everyone was running around at the playground, I was hiding behind books. -laugh- I love reading. I think reading has become a form of escape for me. When you read, you’re immediately transported to the place in that story. In that moment, you can almost feel what they feel, fear what they fear and fall in love with what and whom they love. Subhanallah.

What do I love? Hmm… I love many things – from personalized knick knacks to chilling with my loved ones and cat. I loveee hugs. And food! I mean, who doesn’t love food right? I believe in ice cream on cold rainy days. I believe in enjoying your food and not rushing through your meals. I take my one-hour lunch break seriously.-grin- On a serious note, I believe that everything happens for a good reason. I believe in Allah SWT and that His plans are the best.

I’m an early childhood educator. I’ve been in this industry for seven years! People keep telling me to teach the upper levels because it pays more but I smile and decline. I think I’m meant to teach preschoolers. It gives me more satisfaction and I get to play while I teach. When you’re a child, you spend hours exploring, with such curiosity and wonder. Kids don’t love because they expect something from you, they just love. I’m the teacher, but you know what? I’m the one who learns life lessons from my little ones.

Aww, your kids sound so sweet ma shaa Allah. May Allah bless their innocent souls. Let’s move on to something very personal. Could you tell us more about your parents and their health issues?

My dad was sick for years. He’s a diabetic and a very heavy smoker. Over 4 years, he underwent many surgeries, from amputating a leg, then the other leg to going through bypass surgery. He had a stroke too. Taking care of him wasn’t easy. You see, my dad had always been independent. He was a personal driver and a taxi driver for the most part of his life. Imagine contributing to the household one day and then everything changing the next. Imagine knowing the roads like the back of your hand but not being able to drive because of your illnesses. I think it was tough for him to accept that. He got depressed and it was difficult seeing him crumble. The tension was high and we would have arguments over many things. In 2009, my ma was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The doctors said she had six months to a year to live. She was a patient care assistant at a hospital so she knew she needed help but she chose to focus on my dad. She was strong and held it all together. Taking care of her was easy because she’s very independent. Ma hated being fussed over so we would leave her to her own devices until she asked for help. Alhamdulillah, I had a very understanding boss who always had my back at work. Having sick parents means you had to take leave or go off early for emergencies. She made it possible for me to work and still be with them.

One day, Ma called me as I was about to leave work. My dad was not doing well again. I rushed home just in time to see him being wheeled out by the paramedics. I didn’t know that it was the last time that our eyes would meet. My brother and I had gotten so used to rushing to the A&E by then. We could navigate our way around the hospital with our eyes closed. We knew how long the wait always was so we would take turns to leave the A&E to take our break. I remember the day like it was just yesterday. My brother had just walked out from A&E after comforting my dad. I was in the waiting area with my husband, who was still my fiancé at the time. My mum was on the phone outside. Minutes later, the doctor came out and called for me. I walked up to him with a smile. I didn’t know that I would end up in tears. My dad’s heart had stopped. They were trying to revive him but it didn’t look good. My dad passed on hours later.

I can’t really remember the day of the funeral. It was such a blur. Everything happened too fast. As much as I hate to admit it, I didn’t turn to Allah. I just wanted to sleep. My dad’s passing wasn’t easy. He was normal when I left for work. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he had left us. It was a huge blow and I took quite some time to get over it. My ma was really affected too. She would put up a strong front in front of everyone but at night, I would hear her suppressing her sobs in her pillow. It was heartbreaking. The next day, it would be like nothing happened. Another painful part was that my wedding was two months away. A few of my relatives told me I should postpone it. My ma had to listen to very hurtful comments. They talked and judged but were not helping us so we would just ignore it.

My wedding day was hard. Besides my dad’s passing, my ma almost didn’t attend it. My wedding was held at my aunt’s so we had to bring stuff over two days before. It was just me and my ma. I told her to wait for me outside while I carried the heavy stuff. When I wasn’t looking, she carried a huge basket. Her knees gave way and she almost fell. She was in a lot of pain and we had to rush her to the hospital where she was warded. Later on, we found out that the cancer cells had attacked her bones. Can you imagine how I felt? The thought of not having both parents around for the wedding was excruciating. I don’t know how I kept it together. Alhamdulillah, we managed to get her out for a few hours to attend my solemnization. The moment I saw her, I broke down. My brother was the one who gave me away. I’m so thankful that my family was there. They’re the strongest people I know and they ran the show well.

Alhamdulillah… How was your Ma after that?

My mum is such an amazing person. She inspires me so much. She is selfless and she loved cooking for people even though she was sick. She cared for everyone and she would always remind me to be nice and respect people, no matter how much they have hurt us. Even though we were financially tight, she would help people. Even though she was sick, she would push away her pain and help other people who were unwell. My mum went about her daily business in spite of her pain. She tried her best to not trouble people. My ma had a heart of gold despite everything she was going through.

It was only a short while after my dad passed on that Ma’s health deteriorated. The cancer cells spread to her bones and brain. We had to hire a private nurse to take care of her while she stayed at my aunt’s. Alhamdulillah, my husband was very understanding. We slept over at my aunt’s because I wanted to be with her as much as possible. Before we got a private nurse, my cousins, husband and I would take turns watching over her while she slept. We were very concerned because she started having fits. We had shifts throughout the night and I’m eternally grateful to them for sacrificing everything.

Ma didn’t do so well towards the end. Whenever she was in pain, she would call one of us to administer morphine and she would try to sleep it off. She asked for morphine more times in the last few months than the past few years. We had to track how many times and how much we administered. Ma was disorientated. She would ask my husband why he slept over when he salam-ed her in the morning before work. We brought her back to the hospital because she slept a lot and woke up not knowing where she was. At the A&E, I stayed with her and she kept asking me if I loved her and telling me that she was in pain. It broke my heart but I kept praying to Allah to do what was best, no matter how painful it would be for us. I just couldn’t bear to see her like that. Allah put me through this but He gave me the strength to redha. The dates were a blur but there was a particular night in the hospital that her health went downhill. She was barely conscious and would reply in slurs. We knew it would happen soon. I think she knew too because she was in tears and tried to tell my aunt that she wanted to pray. I am so thankful that she managed to pray for the last time Alhamdulillah. We all sat around her, crying while my aunt helped her to pray while lying down.

The next day, the doctors told us that we could bring Ma home, but also that she might not make the journey. I chose to be in the ambulance with her and throughout the journey, I kept reciting surahs into her ears. She couldn’t respond but she kept crying. The next couple of days were tough but my uncle reminded us to never leave her side. My cousins and husband took turns to read the Quran while they kept watch. We all prayed together in the house. It was such a peaceful place to be in despite everything; it was comforting to have people visiting, praying and reciting surahs for my ma. It really brought us together Alhamdulillah.

My ma passed on at around 3 am on the day after Hari Raya Haji. She left when my husband and I were by her side. I had dozed off on her arm despite trying my hardest not to. My husband saw her take her last breath and woke me up. All I could utter was “Alhamdulillah” because she wasn’t suffering and had gone peacefully.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un… I’m sorry for your loss, Humairah. How did you cope after that?

It was hard for me to swallow because she looked like she was sleeping. Just a couple of days before, I read a post on the significance of Hari Raya Haji. It really made me understand the bigger picture. Allah was testing Nabi Ibrahim AS’s attachment to Nabi Ismail AS and Nabi Ibrahim AS trusted Allah. Nabi Ibrahim AS loved his son a lot. However, he proved that he loved Allah so much more. I remember thinking to myself ‘My attachment to my ma is great. How would I go on if He takes her back? I’ve already lost my dad.’ Alhamdulillah He really brought me through it. I didn’t shed a tear, not even one when the doctor pronounced her time of death. I think He gave me the strength and calmness because there was so much to settle. I only cried when I managed to take a seat and pray. Crying to Allah helped because only He knew what was in my heart.

I’d like to think that my ma’s passing was easier because I didn’t want her to suffer. However, it was still very difficult. I miss her. To redha is tough. Like Ma, I try my hardest to not cry in front of people. I gave myself the day of the burial to cry. On other days, I just kept it all in till night. When I was alone, I would cry and repeat Allah’s name. I don’t know how I held it in. I mean a couple of tears would escape but I think I’m stubborn, and I refuse to let people see me as weak, so I don’t cry. But the other day, I read a book titled “My Dad ” to my 5-year-old kids and I was trying to swallow my tears. It was about how great a dad was and I had to read sentences like “I love my dad. And you know what? HE LOVES ME! (And he always will.)”. Can you imagine how I felt?

Losing your parents makes you feel extremely vulnerable. I try my hardest to push the sadness away when it comes but at night, I allow it to consume me for a while. Then, I cry for a while, read dua, pray Allah places my parents in Jannah and sleep. “Verily with hardship comes ease.” The verse is repeated to make us understand his promise, that indeed with every difficulty, there is relief. Whatever issues we face, there is always something good. I have an amazing support system. I have my husband, my aunts, my brother’s family and cousins whom I grew up with. They all help in their own ways and they’re always there. Alhamdulillah, I think Allah sent these people to help me cope. It’s true how He would help you through what He puts you through. As a family, we have experienced so much but we always remind each other of Allah and His plans. We pray together as much as we can. My aunt gets us to attend religious talks to learn more about Islam. These talks keep us grounded. Nothing can pull us down or make us think we deserve better than anyone else.

What do you want to say to those who have lost their loved ones?

When I first faced these trials about 5 to 6 years back, I kept asking “Why me?” I was full of angst and Allah forgive me, but I thought He didn’t love me. My husband would tell me stories of Nabi Muhammad SAW and the trials he faced. Our prophet SAW lost so many loved ones including his parents, his uncles, his beloved wife Khadijah, his mirror Fatimah Zahra and his only son. He was mocked, abused and ridiculed by the disbelievers. There was a point when he was so hungry that he had to tie stones around his stomach to conceal the noises. Instead of giving up, Prophet Muhammad SAW persevered on with taqwa. Instead of seeking revenge, he prayed for those who hurt him. The stories really showed me that Allah tests everyone including the prophets and that He tests you only because He loves you. If you’re trying to change and be a better person, He tests you. The only thing that makes you different is if you persevere during these tests. The tests have a purpose. We have to have sabr when we face them. By testing us, Allah is not punishing us. Instead, He is raising our status. Alhamdulillah, I know better now. I hope that when you go through hardship, you will remember this too.

Learning to let go really helps. This hit me hard – the world didn’t stop when my parents passed on, so I knew I had to keep moving too. Also, I didn’t allow myself to feel any guilt or regret. Those emotions make it really hard to move on. Like you, I sometimes think about them and want to sob all over again. That’s normal. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to cry. I learnt that Islam doesn’t teach us to be emotionally repressed. Prophet Muhammad SAW cried when he lost Baby Ibrahim. Our hearts may grieve and our tears may flow but our faith in Allah remains strong. It took me a while to start cooking because the kitchen reminds me of my parents. Actually, every nook and cranny in the house remind me of them. Honestly, I don’t think these episodes will ever go away. Just when you think that you’re over it, you get reminded of your loved ones and it’d hit you all over again. However, it will get better in shaa Allah. Soon, you’ll start smiling or even laughing when those episodes occur. For example, my family and I would bring up some hilarious things that my late parents used to do and we would have a good laugh together. It’s one way to cope and a really good way to remember them. I know it’s tough. Before it gets easier, it will get tougher. But the trick is to have a strong support system and to always have faith. Trust Him and His plans. Cry if you need to but do not let it consume you; do not let it be you. You are stronger than you think; that’s why He chose you to go through this. You’re going to be alright, in shaa Allah.

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