I hope you know that I was always on your side, Mom.
I am sorry I didn’t show it more.
I hope you know that I was always on your side, Mom.
I am sorry I didn’t show it more.
There’s a song I really like by an artist named Labrinth. The song is called Jealous. The lyrics talks about being jealous of how the rain falls on this person’s skin and how the wind blows through her clothes. The male singer is probably referring to a female partner he lost or never had but wanted.
He sings with such a deep expression and emotion that I feel it. But my thoughts of jealousy don’t go towards a guy. Instead, it is a jealousy towards whoever you might be around now. Those who get you up close and personal to you. Those who you might be working with or enjoying heaven with or laughing and learning with, or loving or teaching.
Because I know what that love is about and what a great teacher you are. I know how your touch and caring and nurturing feels. And anyone who gets to experience it now is very lucky. I know this from experience. It’s not that I don’t want you to be happy wherever you are. Of course I do. And I know that you will be deeply affecting any souls that get the chance to cross your path.
And of course I know you will forever influence my life. I hope that our souls are still very much connected. But I’m going to let my human, earthly, smaller mind get in the way for a bit and just complain that it’s not the same as having you right here where I can see you or touch you or smile and laugh with you and hear your voice. I guess it’s not supposed to be the same.
At first, I think I worried that maybe you might be jealous of the rain and wind and life that is around me, or around your grandchildren or your son or the rest of your family, because you can’t join us in these experiences as we grow. I mean, you can’t join us physically. And that makes me sad for you. I don’t want you to feel like you are missing out or that we ever forget about you. We don’t. Truly, we don’t.
But then I also know that you were never one to want anything less than the best for all of us. You wanted to give and give and give. So jealousy towards us doesn’t really seem in your nature at all. You are the type of person that would just be happy for our happiness.
It’s hard for me to be happy without you though, Mom. It’s hard for me to be happy without feeling your happiness, I think is the more important part of all of this.
I am jealous of the people, especially the daughters, who get to call their moms and hear their voices on the other line. I’m jealous of the little girls who hold their mother’s hand as they walk down the street, or feel their mother’s touch on their face or their foreheads.
I am so jealous of the mothers and daughters who go on trips together, or go shopping together, or sit and drink tea together. I am jealous of any people who still have the opportunity to apologise to their mothers if they have said something that might have been hurtful. I am jealous of those who when they call out to their moms get an answer back.
Sometimes I stare incessantly at kids and their mothers, or even adults and their mothers. And I watch all the little nuances between them- the smiles, the tears, the hugs and love and connection. And I yearn to get even a little bit of that back. Even writing that causes my throat to close up a bit as my emotions just build up inside of me. It hurts so much to not be able to go to your home and see your cute face opening the door to greet me.
I am jealous of the girl I was when I was younger, the one who was able to sit on your lap, and lay next to you, and be cradled and rocked by you, and picked up from school by you. The girl who had her lunches made by her mom. The girl who enjoyed her mom’s scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. The girl who got to wake up to her mom’s face and warmth.
I am jealous of the girl who had her adult years with you The girl who could always just go to Mom’s place when she needed anything, especially when she just needed to be accepted for exactly who she was, without having to prove or do anything special. The girl who was special because of her mom. The girl who had a mom who made her feel so special.
I am jealous of the woman I became who, when she needed to apologize or right a wrong with her mom, could do so whenever she wanted. I am jealous of this woman who had her mom’s forgiveness, sweetness, compassion and strength around her always. That simplicity in living and loving that made her know exactly what was important in her life.
And then I realize I am jealous of myself. That the time I had with you has passed and I wish so much to have it back. But I need to recognize that I was so lucky to have had it at all. 40 years of it. It sounds like such a long time. But it feels like it went by too fast.
I can’t be jealous of what I already have, can I? Maybe others can be jealous of me, because I had you, for those forty years. And you made me who I am today. Everything that is beautiful about me came from my beautiful mother. That is not something to be jealous about, but to be so proud of I’m trying to remember that, Mom.
I just miss you so much. And Mother’s Day is coming up. How do you celebrate a day dedicated to a woman who is no longer here with me physically but who gave me anything and everything I could have possibly wanted? and didn’t even know I wanted.
Mother’s Day is not a day, is it? It’s a lifetime. A miracle. Beyond one lifetime. It’s an energy. An everlasting love. An eternal love. A magic that I was so lucky to experience.
Thank you, Mommy. You are my everything. Always and forever.
I know my letters here aren’t the most uplifting, or just seem full of sadness. But I wanted you to know that I am trying to keep my spirits up and stay hopeful, to believe in what I might not be able to feel yet, but that I wish to feel. Actually, it’s more about what I wish you feel- safe, free, happy, worry free, at peace and without pain or regret.
So I found a new song -well, it’s actually an old song, but it’s new on my list of songs to sing to you, for you- to keep me moving towards my wishes. My wishes for you.
It’s the song “Together Again” by Janet Jackson. She is Michael Jackson’s sister. Maybe you already knew that. Or if you didn’t while you were here, maybe you do now because I am imagining that you can see and know much more now that you are with other angels.
It’s funny how I grew up listening to a lot of Janet Jackson songs, and I know this one, or I thought I did. But it wasn’t until now that I actually listened to the lyrics more deeply. And it’s amazing how fitting they are for my wishes- that we will be together again, that I could feel you shining down on me, that I could feel your love around me.
I guess when I was younger, the words wouldn’t have had the same meaning to me anyway, or I wouldn’t have known what it would feel like to want these things yet. Maybe I could have wished them for Mama and my’s relationship. But I don’t think I was old enough to fully understand how much these words could mean to me, and speak to me.
I love the chorus:
Everywhere I go, every smile I see
I know you are there, smiling back at me
Dancing in moonlight, I know you are free
‘Cause I can see your star shinin’ down on me.
To imagine you dancing in moonlight… wow! That would be amazing, and make me feel so happy, to see your freedom and happiness. Your lightness. Your shine. (I just realized that I must have been singing some very wrong lyrics to this song when I was younger. I had no idea she was saying “Dancing in moonlight.” What had I been singing all this time? That’s the great thing about the internet now, we can look up the lyrics to see what they really are, and then make fun of the silly things we used to make up because we just didn’t know any better).
The line There are times when I feel you smile upon me, baby gives me goosebumps, especially when I really sing it out loud in that higher key change in the music. A good cry to the heavens. I can feel how much I want it. How much I want to feel you again, your smile, our connection, your love not just as a memory but as a presence that still exists. I want to believe that it does and it will always continue.
I just need to change the word “baby” throughout the song to “mommy” and it would all fit, including the part about drawing strength from your words, your love and what you’ve taught me.
And then to be able to see you again one day. “Always been a true angel to me, now above, I can’t wait for you to wrap your wings around me, baby.” My angel mother. Together again, someday.
“I’ll never forget you.”
I wonder who Janet Jackson was thinking about when she said those words.
I will never forget you, mommy. You are with me and thought of every moment of every day. This song is going to be one of my new prayers to sing for you, Mom.
I went to see the musical Waitress over the weekend. It is a stage adaptation of the movie Waitress which I guess came out a long time ago, or awhile ago. I never saw it and can’t find it on Netflix. I started using Netflix after you passed away. Sorry. If I had figure it out before, I would have shown you how to use it.
Anyway, the reason I went all the way to Seattle to see this show is because
1) It didn’t look like it was coming to Canada, or at least not to Vancouver.
2) One of my all time favourite singer/songwriters Sara Bareilles wrote the music for it.
3) She Used to Be Mine- one of the songs in the musical.
I’ve been singing Sara Bareilles’ songs now for sometime. Her lyrics and compositions are so unique and full of memorable images and pauses, and syncopations and she has a beautiful voice. I love how every song really says something. I mean, the something is always profound, or playful, or poignant or all of the above. I feel changed after going through the stories in her lyrics and music.
But in particular, “She Use To Be Mine” gripped me almost from the first note, but definitely from the first few phrases. I first heard it at a live concert of Sara Bareilles’. My roommate Karen and I went to see the concert in Seattle a few years ago. At that time, you were still around, and the song still spoke to me, gripped my heart, and made me catch my breath a little. It made me sad, and happy, and feeling alive and inspired, but also pained and empathetic as well- towards the subject of the song or to myself, I don’t know.
It was explained to us at that time that Sara Bareilles wrote the song for the musical, and that the musical would be out in a couple of years. It was also explained to us that the song came about because the character in the play is pregnant, but she doesn’t want to have the baby. She is with a guy who doesn’t treat her well, and she doesn’t have a good paying job or much stability. So she feels like she has nothing to offer the child, and also seems to miss the person she thought she would become.
So at that time, the “She used to be mine” chorus made sense to me as Sara Bareilles meant it- that the person who was the dreamer and beauty, and go getter used to be a part of the main character. I think her name was Jenna. But that Jenna was mourning her passing- as if that part of her had gone and died. Was no longer there. As Sara Bareilles said in her concert- it is a concept and feeling we can all probably relate to- when something in our lives passes over us, and we don’t look or act or have the time to be or do that thing anymore that used to be such a part of us.
I fell in love with the song instantly, and when I got back to Vancouver, I wanted to sing it. I learned it and kept practising it. And something in it always brought me to tears, whether I heard it, was singing along with it, or just singing it on my own.
But after you passed away, I couldn’t say the chorus lines anymore without just breaking down. The “She used to be mine” line made me think that I was somehow referring to you, especially when I had to sing the whole line, “She is gone but she used to be mine.”
I found out recently that one of the karaoke places I go to often has that song available for people to sing. So I started singing it again. I try to imagine that I am singing it for you, or to you, or to tell people about you.
But there is a change that I make in mind when it comes to the song and the lyrics. Whether I imagine the “she” who is gone to be a part of me or to be you, I don’t allow myself to believe the “used to be mine” part. You are still mine and will always be mine, mom. As I have written to you before, no one can ever take your place. No one can every be or try to be my mom. You are the only mom I want, the only one I had, and the only one I still have. There is no “used to”. You are still mine. My mother. I hope you know that. I hope you know that I never forget about you and never will.
In the play, the main character ends up loving her daughter the moment she was born, and deciding to take care of her on her own. She doesn’t want the father to be around because she knows that he is selfish and doesn’t know how to love the woman let alone a child. And I thought it was so beautiful but also so sad, how selfless this woman becomes to give her all to her child. Without any help.
She would speak to the baby when she was in her stomach. Dear baby, she would say. She would tell the baby her fears but also her dreams for the baby, that she wished that she could give her everything.
I know you were that kind of mom, but you didn’t have to tell me what you hoped to give me. You just did it. I don’t know how. And it breaks my heart a little every day to think of how much you sacrificed for me. How there may have been so many parts of you that went away or had to go because you ended up putting me first, putting both of your kids first.
So I feel like apologizing and thank you all at the same time. I am sorry for all the things you had to do day in and day out to keep us safe, and cared for, and fed and loved, when sometimes that meant you didn’t have the time or energy to give that same caring and love to yourself. Thank you, Mommy for having me, for caring for me, for sacrificing for me, for standing up for me and keeping me protected and happy.
In the play, the main character’s mom has already passed away. But she was taught to make pies from her, and so she continues to do so- talking about some of her mom’s favourite pie flavours.
What would I choose as a pie name for you? Sweet, Laila Mama pie? Whatever it is, it could never capture all that you were and are to me. I don’t know how to ever repay you for all that you have done for me. I wish I had done more to show you how grateful I was for you during the time you were here. Please give me signs as to what I can do now for you. I know it is not the same, but I want to try. I cried so much in the play- for not being able to tell you all that I want to now. For not having mother daughter moments with you anymore. Is there a way to still have different kinds?- that surpass time and space? I need my mom still, and always will.
I think I suddenly got some sort of cold. I was fine yesterday, but then at the end of the night and this morning, I felt so tired, with a runny nose, and a bit of a scratchiness and cough in my throat.
I reached for the Vick Vapo Rub of course. It’s strange how such a small bottle, and the smell from it, can bring back so much sweetness, and love but also sadness and sorrow.
Vicks, and just that smell, makes me think of how I had such a loving mom- you- who took care of me when I was sick, no matter what age I was. Even though I got frustrated over you “babying” me at those times, God, what I wouldn’t do to have you do that for me again.
I am sorry if I ever gave you a hard time over caring the way you did. It was such gift I was given- to have you as a mom, to have you take the time to rub Vicks on my throat and forehead and nose. And your hands. Vicks conjures up the feel and look of your beautiful, soft hands, oozing love through every finger. Giving me your healing and warmth and motherly magic.
So I wish I could go back to those days, to appreciate them more. And more than that, I wish I could go back to them to tell you how very much they meant to me, how much you meant to me, and still do. And I wish I could give you back that same tenderness, and caring and time. You spent so much time with me- as much as was needed to help me through, especially when I got sick.
The soups, the hurder (tumeric), and blankets, and tea and your hand on my forehead. Everything soothed me right into my core, into my heart. And so when I think of you lying there in the hospital, and me not being able to give you back that soothing and comfort, it tears me apart.
Vicks brings me back a warmth and smiles- the tenderest of memories of the most love I received, and will receive, from any human being ever. But it also breaks my heart and brings me to tears because that love is gone. Or the love isn’t gone, but the touches and what I can see and hear- your voice unlike no other and the words you chose that no one else could. Even the way you said my name.
The thought of if already brings a ache in my throat. And this is not from a cold, but from grief. From anger, from pain, from losing you. But mostly from not being able to help you the way you helped me. I am so sorry, Mom. I wish I could have brought you a bottle of Vicks and put my hand on your forehead, and make everything magically better, the way you always were able to do for me.
I keep being told you are no longer in pain. But the people who tell me this are here, alive. So how do they know what you are going through? I need to see and feel it for myself. Please give me more signs. I still, after 3 and a half years, don’t feel it- your peace.
Please reach out and tell me or show me that you are okay. Please.
Guess where I went AFTER dance class this time, instead of before? Khane! Yes, I know I said it’s only a few steps away from my zouk class, but I usually would drive out to the zouk social after, if I have the energy to do any dance. But you know what I danced instead last night? You’ll never believe it. Rasra!!!
No really! You don’t believe me, do you? Or maybe you do, because you were there somehow in spirit and were the reason I even got the urge to do it?
I did tell everyone that I was joining the rasra circle for you, my mom. It’s true. And I was with a whole bunch of boody mas- older women. And men, too. But mom, some of these women can dance!!! How do they keep it up for so long? I was exhausted after just a couple of songs. But these women in their 60’s and even older were just going on and on and on. And with a LOT of energy!
That dance takes a lot of cardio. Man. I had my zouk class before then, but we move in a less jumpy way. This rasra stuff was definitely taking my breath, or pumping my heart. And when you do it properly, it really works your calves. Who knew?
This older woman in front of me was trying to teach me, because I seriously felt, and obviously looked, lost when I first joined them. And because I am a dancer, I wanted to not just get through, but also do some impressive turns and get the feet in rhythm and all of that. It looks easier than it is, for sure. But I tried to get some spins in there to see if you might feel that energy, if you might be able to feel the reverberations of it. Of me sharing it with you.
I am sorry I didn’t have sherbet. You know I never really liked that stuff. Maybe without the nuts and stuff. I like stuff a little plain. I did have cake though. Just for you. It was not as good as your cake though. No one’s ever will be. But that’s okay. Yours and you will always be my favorite. Nothing can compare.
So yeah, if you haven’t already guessed, I went out there because it was Kushiali- December 31st. They had a cake to celebrate Hazar Imam’s birthday. My friend and I were laughing because the candles weren’t being blown out. We were a bit worried that they would just let them die down on their own on the cake.
I don’t know many people at all in that Khane. I felt out of place, to be honest. Not in a non-welcoming way. But just in a “what am I doing here?” way. And then I remembered- I am celebrating for my mom. I am sorry I didn’t celebrate Navroz enough with you, Mom. I just never resonated with it. I felt disconnected from it. But I see now that it would have just kept us more connected. Given us more of an excuse to share more memories together.
But now I cannot bring back those days. I cannot turn back time to change the opportunities that I missed. All I can do is celebrate them with you in another way now. I hope you can feel it, somehow. I hope you know that if I had the chance again, I would get out and have cake and do some rasra rounds with you, and even have sherbet. Anything to spend more time with and around my mom. Now I can only hope that you are surrounding me in another way.
Love you, Mom.
I’ve been playing my guitar, and it’s all really thanks to you.
Do you remember that time that I came to your place with my little three quarter acoustic guitar? And I barely knew how to play two chords. G and C, I think. Or maybe it was D and G, just because I couldn’t get my fingers to sit comfortably or accurate along the frets on the C chord.
I sat or almost stood on your couch. And I was just strumming the same two chords, very badly, I might add. But mothers never see the bad, do they? At least you didn’t. When I stopped, and got frustrated, there was not even a hint of relief in your voice. I would have thought that anyone would have been so frustrated by the noise I was making. But not you. What did you say?
“Don’t stop. Keep playing. It sounds so beautiful. You should play in the Ismaili band.”
Haha. Mom, you could always make my heart melt. And on that day, I had no idea how much your words and that moment would mean so much to me. I had no idea how much that moment- your smile, your encouragement, the furry feel of that blue and orange plaid kind of blanket on the couch, and the warmth of my mother’s home would soak into me. It had to. It has to. It is no longer there. I can’t believe that was only a few years ago. Another part of me can’t believe you have been gone over two years.
I have two guitars now, Mom. I still have the small one and now I also have a classical guitar that a friend gave me. He wasn’t using it anymore. I play that classical one more because the strings are softer and the book I am practising from is geared towards classical guitar music.
I don’t play or practise often. But I know I won’t ever give it up. My mother taught me never to give up. Your voice, urging me to keep playing, stays in my heart. I wish I could have played some songs for you- full songs. Not just a couple of chords. But I know that the chords were somehow just as beautiful to you as any complete songs. Because you just saw and brought out the beauty in me your daughter. It didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. You just love me for me, and all that I was. You heard the music in me before I even brought it forth. You heard the songs before the were even played.
And so every strum, every note, every practice that I do practise is for you, Mom. I will write some songs for you, to tell the world about you, and to also connect to you. Whether it’s with my guitar, with my keyboard, with just my voice or a combination of them. Or even if it’s just with my heart, I am going to make this music reach you somehow. I have to.
If you have been near me, especially in the past few days, you would have felt the surge of hope and energy and light I felt at reading this new book Crescendo, by Amy Weiss, I heard about through the Hay House World Summit.
It is precisely about this- about the power of music to transcend life and death. That there is no death, just transformation, and many lives. It’s a beautiful story, Mom. I want to believe that you are at peace, and flying and free and resting, resting from the pains and worries and heartache that you may have felt in this life. I want to believe you are always with me, but without any fear or hurt or regret or worry. I want to believe I will see you again and again. And I wish that I could give a copy of this book to everyone around me.
And you know what the character’s name in the story turns out to be, right? Aria. Somehow, I don’t think this is any coincidence, not just for the musical themes in this book. Of course, that was intentional. But also that we have an Aria in our lives, in our family. But I’ll save that for a whole other entry. A whole other story or maybe even a whole other life. Many lives even. 🙂
I love you, Mom.
Thanks for the music, for making me believe I can create my own songs. All I want to do is to reach you through some of the magical notes, chords, sounds and silences. I hope you can hear them, hear me, and feel me. I just need to know you are okay, that you are well, that you are taken cared of and at peace.
Every song and melody and note is for you.
Love, always and forever,