"It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."
Two separate events. Two pieces of devastating news. It has been a tough week. As the saying goes, "When it rains it pours."
As a country, we are mourning. As a friend of Ami Schaheera, the cancer fighting fashion blogger with a beautiful soul, I am saddened by her recent passing. I didn't have a good feeling when her husband informed us that Ami had trouble breathing and sleeping due to a lung infection a week ago. I knew Ami had been in and out the hospital ever since she found out that she had leukemia three years ago. A month after her wedding, in fact. But this time, I really didn't have a good feeling about it.
We kept in touch via Facebook and Instagram but I couldn't remember the last time I had met her. I immediately made the decision to visit her at the hospital on Monday, 24th of March. She had an oxygen mask on and tears gently rolled down her eyes when I sat next to her. The pain was unbearable despite being on morphine which she was hesitant to take, by the way, because she didn't want to become addicted.
I smiled and held her arm to comfort her. I didn't know what to say. I had never seen Ami in that condition before. The Ami I was used to seemed rather healthy and happy. She had an oxygen mask on but she tried conversing with me.
"I'm sorry we can't chat much," she apologised while gasping for air.
"No, no, it's fine! I came here to see you. Please rest," I assured her.
Ami asked if it was okay to eat watermelons. I think she was craving for some. Sadly, we were told it might aggravate her lung infection. I tried to cheer her up by saying maybe she could drink a smoothie instead. She loved healthy juices and smoothies. Being the soft spoken and sweet girl that she was, Ami tried to hold a conversation with me despite being unable to breathe properly. I didn't want make her tired so I politely excused myself after half an hour.
"See you when you get better Ami! See you on Instagram. Assalamualaykum."
Those were my last words to her. The next day I was told her condition had worsened but when friends and family tried to make her practice the shahadah she displayed her unwillingness to give up by saying, "Nak baik, nak baik." ("I want to get better, I want to get better.")
Unfortunately, Ami passed away on Wednesday morning, at 1.29 am. Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. From Him we come and unto Him we will return.
Days after, her interview was published in Eh! magazine's April issue. The writer asked what was her source of strength and she answered,
"My husband is always by my side. He doesn't want to see me or treat me as a wife who is unwell... He makes everything much easier for me. I still laugh and and go on with life as the average wife and woman because there may be others out there who lead tougher lives so I need to be stronger and more grateful."
When asked what was her source of inspiration Ami explained,
"Life itself. Our lives have been designed in such a way and it is my responsibility to fulfill and carry out whatever I need to. Live life to the fullest - as long as I'm still breathing I must endure everything with redha (contentment and acceptance)."
Ami was very honest during the interview. The article was a real eye-opener and "heart-opener", if I may say so. With great strength she admitted to falling into depression several times but she also displayed perseverance by discussing the different ways she has fought for her life.
"You only know how strong you are after you are really tested."
I am very proud of Ami. She did the best she could. Every time she gave up she would rise again. Until God decided her time on Earth was up. I have lost a dear friend but my consolation is that she is no longer suffering and that hundreds if not thousands have prayed for her and will continue praying for her. And I pray she will always remain an inspiration to others.
‘O Allah, forgive and have mercy upon her, forgive her and pardon her, and make honorable her reception. Expand her entry, and cleanse her with water, snow, and ice, and purify her of sin as a white robe is purified of filth. Exchange her home for a better home, and her family for a better family, and her spouse for a better spouse. Admit her into the Garden, protect him from the punishment of the grave and the torment of the Fire.’ (source)
I will never forget what she wrote about me in her blog because who knew despite all my flaws and sins, I was able to help her? I've learned that we shouldn't wait to be the "perfect" Muslim before we do good in the name of Islam. Purification is a process. Just because I wear a hijab or write about Islam doesn't mean I think of myself as a "purified" person. My heart will go through this process of purification all my life, inshaAllah.
Sickness is also a form of purification and I pray all the pain Ami endured on this earth has been a means of expiating her sins and easing her entry to Paradise. Although we feel she has left us too soon only Allah knows best.
“But you prefer the worldly life, while the Hereafter is better and more enduring.” (87: 16-17)
I will also hold on to these words: "Do not say that every day you spend on this earth is a day closer to dying. Every day you spend on this earth is a day closer to finally living." - Yasmin Mogahed