We often ask for “a good end” in our prayers. and there are many examples for a peaceful merciful good ends that just say they are.
Good ends are bigger than the last moment in someone’s life.
Some people pass away while praying, some while in Hajj, some in Ramadan, some doing good, some peacefully in their sleep, etc.
But it’s more than just that moment.
It’s the whole going out of this life. Arranging to leave. Taking care of things and just planning.
Some say Allah inspire those who are good that their end is near and they prepare for it. Somehow they just move around taking care of things while their lips are sealed even to themselves.
Dad did so much the last year of his life that in retrospect, looks just like the routine one would do when they’re putting a bittersweet end to something they care about. With a smile.
He loved life and hated even the mention of death, throughout his living.
His name means “ the one that continues.” And he lived up to that name.
Yet, the last time he was fully awake, vocal and aware of it all. No cpap mask on face, no tubes anywhere other than his right arm and nose, and out of the ICU,
On Jan 13th, he told me, after a year of closing down accounts, selling things, giving away his clothes, throwing away all the junk, tidying the messy room of everything his OCD mind had been telling him needed of plastic bags and gloves, arranging the mess of official papers for lands he owned to have in one document, multiplying his charity giving, giving me money, giving my mother a cheque -which coincidentally was that last one in his book-, throwing advice for each of us, and so much more,
On Jan 13th he told me; “I’ve prepared for the long journey “
He was a retired pilot and I replied; “traveling is nice”
I understood what he meant but I felt like playing it down.
He nodded; “it is.” And went back to his contemplative silent stare.
I have this on video. Videos and photos I’ve long removed because I simply can’t see them, and I need to live on.
The one time I watched that video, I noticed in one long silent period, with machines beeping and air flowing sound from the one nasal tube, him with closed eyes, his lower lip moving, almost shaking.
He might have been moving his saliva to test if there‘s more blood in his mouth, as the beginning of the end had started by then, but he also might have been holding back the tears, chin quivering.
I asked him if he’d like to talk to mum. Something I thought he’d brush off as he usually does because “I’ll see her when she comes here in an hour or so”
However, he agreed.
He even didn’t mind the video call, and anyone who knows my dad knows his passionate hate for videos and photos. He once paid the camera man at a wedding so that he wouldn’t catch him on camera.
Yet, he actually talked with my mother, in a video call.
If anything I’m grateful for,
It’s that messenger call.
There had been so much tension for months in the family because of the continued state of randomness in his health.
But that call.
That call was the best.
He was smiling. She was smiling.
They joked and then said goodbye.
Dad wasnt strong, vocal or fully aware after that day.
That’s why I’m so relieved with that call. So relieved for spending that last day with him., as fully him.
I won’t forget the smile he silently gave me in passing.
He had re-entered the hospital on January 7th. I got a speeding ticket on that day because I was racing to the hospital for arrangements and papers before the ambulance arrives there with him.
He had been coughing up blood that night. And once the ambulance arrived home, I ran to the car hearing the last words of my mother echoing throughout my drive; “his eyes! he’s leaving me! He’s going away!”
He was admitted to the ICU, got better and was to be discharged in a few days, which was why we were in the third floor on the 13th, for observation before leaving.
After that video call with my mother he told me;
“I forgot I was to die. Your mother forgot too— that night when I coughed up blood”
He had always trusted my mother’s judgment. Rarely acted on it, but after the fact he’d always regret not taking her advice when he defied it resulting in an undesired outcome.
I didn’t reply, so he continued;”we got distracted with the ICU, and the tubes and the lungs. And I forgot to die”
I’m chuckling through the tears now.
If there’s anyone who’d say that line, it’s my father who always had things go his way.
“I forgot to die”
What a bizarre thing to say.
He subconsciously knew what he was ignorant of and what all the doctors missed. Because his blood coughing wasn’t his infection coming back but aspiration happening because of a problem in his swallowing, a complication that was probably missed in his brain bleed a month prior.
But it’s the age of a disease that attacks and often damages the lungs, so that’s their go-to, even though he didn’t have covid.
He said what he didn’t understand. But now I think in how it would seem that true, all the focus on the lung infection was a distraction.
Covid; Our red herring.
But why am I here now?
I went to the post office and I was reliving it all again while thinking of what a good end means.
Last year, dad told me he wants to close his P. O. Box because it’s useless and the only thing that arrives there is his monthly bank statement.
He tried to get the bank to stop, but they said it’s either physical or via email. And he didn’t have the latter.
He eventually closed his box and set the statements to arrive to mine.
Today I went to the post office, after a very long time, and there it was;
His last bank statement; marked on January 31st. One day after he died.
A good end;
When things come to a close in a subtle near-perfect manner, for the person and those around.
May you be showered in mercy, everlasting in a peaceful state where you actually will live up to your name.