Sorry to Say: “Good Bye Selina.”

It was a Sunday morning when a doorbell rang to Marcel’s home and it was Marcel’s wife who opened the door. At the door, it was Lisa and Robert. They never visited Marcels before at their place. So, Marcels were surprised. They invited Lisa and Robert in and had them sit comfortably in the living room. Lisa and Robert realized that Marcels were surprised.

Lisa is the one who said in a low voice: “We are going to see Sofia, would you two like to come along with us?”

Marcel said, looking towards his wife for instant approval: “Sure, what’s wrong?”

Robert answered, without looking towards his wife (Lisa started crying): “Just heard from David that Selina passed away. Selina’s sudden death was due to falling downhill while walking in a village. It was an instant death. Bobby was with her.” They did not know anything more.

“We have to tell that to Sofia. Find out the details later,” said Marcel’s wife.

“Do not know how to tell her,” said Lisa.

“Yes, it is a big issue.” Marcel sat down in a chair and said we need to figure this out. Sofia won’t be able to take it. It’s hard for Marcel’s too.

While all four were thinking and their brains were going numb, Marcel’s wife volunteered to tell Sofia. All were a bit relieved. Marcel’s wife suggested that one of them call Sofia and meet them at a nearby children’s park and give a reason, like, Marcel wants to talk to Sofia—nothing more. She suggested that Robert should make the call just in case Lisa started crying over the phone. Robert agreed. The plan worked, and Sofia did show up.

All of them met at a children’s park that same afternoon. Sofia was surprised to see all of them there and noticed their mood from their faces.

Before any conversion started, Marcel’s wife said, just like a command: “Sofia, sit down beside me.” And then, she held her hand and delivered these words: “Sofia your mama’s soul is in heaven. May God be with her.”

Sofia was as calm as a stone. Her tear drops were slowly sliding down the chin like little water fountains on a mountain, sliding down slowly. Marcel knew Sofia is a strong woman. So is Marcel’s wife. They hugged, and all of us just stood there watching.

Later that day, Marcel learned from Robert that Amina, David, Nadia, and Reza already took a flight to Morocco on Sunday early in the morning. Sofia, Lisa, and Robert will fly tomorrow morning. Marcel’s wife and Marcel do not travel at all. Marcel, he was sad.

It was Selina’s wish that she should lay to rest near a Saffron field. So, the family made the arrangements accordingly.

In a week, Marcel met Sofia, Lisa, and Robert. They were back from Morocco. Everything went well as planned. The last word that Selina spoke was “Sofi,”

A month later, Marcel heard that Sofia made a new commitment to spend the rest of her life as a caregiver. She decided to work in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Selina’s Story

“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts” – Albert Einstein

I remembered everything about Selina. Selina is now is 86 years old. She immigrated to the United States with her parents in 1939, when she was only nine years old. They lived in Brooklyn, New York City and had a shop below their apartment. Selina was a gifted, brilliant student. She graduated from high school a national scholar with honors and was admitted to Harvard, to an exceptional combined MD/Ph.D. program. Selina married her high school sweet heart Mike, who worked at Harvard stadium. They struggled financially throughout their studies at Harvard. In her late 20s, Selina became a faculty member at Harvard. I remember meeting Adia, Selina and Mike’s aidopted daughter a beautiful little girl from I. All dia  chose to become a nurse. Adia met Eurice at the hospital where she worked. Eurice was from Colombia and was a resident physician at the hospital. Adia and Eurice got married and had a daughter; they named her Isabella, Bella for short. Isabella was gorgeous, Selina and Mike’s only grandchild and nicknamed her Bella. Then Selina and Mike wanted Bella, Adia, and Eurice to live with them. As I recall, that was working out beautifully. I used to meet Selina whenever I had to go to Boston for job-related meetings. That was about 30 or 35 years ago.

 

Moments of Truth

Where am I going with my life? What would it be like to know that I had wasted my time in this world and find out it is too late to do anything about it. I must be self-conscious and be truthful to my conscious. That’s all I can do and pray to God for Mercy.

In my daily Salah (Muslim prayer), every time I finish a prayer, I Salaam once to the right shoulder and once to the left shoulder, to my Recording Angels.

One day, the moment I said Salaam to my Recording Angel to my right, I heard a voice echoing inside me:

“You complain that you made a big mistake in your life—given a second chance, what would you do differently?”

I paused a minute and searched my mind. Then, silently, I responded to my Recording Angel: “I wouldn’t have left my country when my family and I were facing danger. I should have faced the difficult situation with courage and dignity.” I talked to myself, and I felt that I had made a big mistake. Instead, I took an easy way out; I left my friends, family, and culture and my country and took shelter in America. Since then, everything that I knew about my life has changed.

Then the next moment, I Salaamed to my left, to my left Recording Angel. The Angel was reading my mind, and I heard his voice now:

“Are you sure about that? My notes say you love your American-Christian grandchildren as they stand today. Think and fear Allah, the All-Knowing!”

I am confused, my Lord. Guide me through. Begged for Mercy.

My Salah was over, and I thanked God in my Prayer.

All these years, I was so busy with myself, and my family that I forgot to pray and thank Allah for taking care of me and be grateful. All these times my wife happened to be thankful and pray to Allah. So, I turn to her for help. She gave me this:

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the lights.”

I turned on my lights and started to pray. It changed the way I view the world and the way I see myself. I began working hard to make sense of the world and my place in it. My life began to keep moving. I made friends with my soul, started writing to escape to my mind to find where my conscious fits in and speaks the truth of the heart.

 

Dignity

The riddle of the sphinx (Oedipus): “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?” is parable about a human life cycle, from infancy to old age. Infantile dependency to achieve adult dignity—upright posture and then find ourselves degraded at the old age. Each of us carries the fear of aging. We fear to become less than ourselves in the last stage of life.

Different cultures have different attitudes about old age, and these cultural perspectives can have huge effects on our experience of getting older. As it turns out, maybe by stroke, by Dementia or by whatever cause, we stand at risk of losing everything gained over a lifetime.
Dignity and respect matter because every one of us is vulnerable. In western cultures – the elderly are removed from the community and relegated to hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice houses – aging can become a unrespectful experience.