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The Holy month of Ramadan is a month of prayers and communion with God, where you purify your soul and take on renewed energy and faith to continue for the rest of the year. It is a month where you question your conscience about your trespasses against others, about your transgressions, about your sins. It is a month where you pray to God to forgive you and to give you the strength to forgive others and to become a better person. It is a month of self discovery and self assessment.
Although I am not Muslim, but having lived all my life in Egypt, which is predominantly Musilm, I have come to know that religion as it is practiced by the centrist, truly pious Egyptians who are well versed in their religion without any imposed Bedouin culture, or worse still the harsh desert culture.
This year Ramadan has been a journey of self discovery for me. Ever since the loss of my Mom at the beginning of March I have been going through a difficult journey of pain and self discovery. I had thought that I had reached a plateau where I would catch my breath before continuing to self development. I was wrong. I am still in that painful stage of self discovery and assessment. A stage where every new circumstance is like a test of your true strengths or weaknesses. This Ramadan was such a test.
At the very beginning of the month something truly painful happened: a dear friend lost her beloved daughter. Although there were strong indicators of this happening, and happening soon, yet we always cling to hope against all logic and practical reason. My friend knew and dreaded the day, and we even talked about it, though not frankly, for it is cruel to deprive someone even of false hope. When the daughter passed away, it was a very painful circumstance, yet not a surprise. I knew the mother better than the daughter, yet the very fact of the daughter’s passing away affected me beyond what is conceivable. I had thought I had regained a good part of my balance, but it seems I was wrong. This death has raked up all my previous losses and has plunged me in a mood of deep grief. Not only was I unable to commiserate with my friend who is going through her own intolerable grief, I was barely able to cope with my own everyday life such as it is.
This Ramadan most of my friends kept to themselves. There was only one Iftar to which I was invited, and one Iftar to which I invited my friends. But there was an Iftar of pot luck which we went to at our friend’s house, to show solidarity and to keep her company, to give her solace and make her feel she is not alone. It was very difficult for me, for I had to control my urge to burst into tears, my poor friend did not deserve that. But generally this Ramadan was very quiet, and I spent most of it quite alone.
This was my test, this being quite alone for days on end. At one point I found myself dreading getting out of bed, the day seemed so long. But then I took myself to task and started working very hard on my book. Even if this project comes to naught, it would have served its purpose by seeing me through this,very difficult stage in my life. I buried myself in my work, to the extent that I forgot to eat, sometimes even forgot to take my medication, and quite often worked late into the night. Many a time when the lights went out just before sunset, I would not discover that they came back till the battery on my laptop gives an indication that it needs recharging, and that would be way into the evening or even the night. The only thing that kept me semi-grounded was taking care of the dogs. I had to feed them, make sure they had their play time and exercise, kept an eye on them to ensure proper discipline and gave them a lot of love.
I am disappointed in me. I thought I was doing very well. I thought I had come a long way. After all it has been five months to the day today since my Mom passed away and I have been doing well. I now realize how fragile my state was. When I started getting depressed because of the problems and governmental red tape concerning my inheritance, I did my best to talk myself out of it, but problems kept piling up, and still I did my best. With this latest death, that was the final straw. I went into my cocoon. I kept up my FB contact, but without real enthusiasm. I could not write about my current state, which was strange for me. Even that therapy did not work. Worse still I had a friend think that I was distancing myself from her, when all I was doing was trying to get through the days without a breakdown. I nearly had one at the Iftar I was invited to.
Things must be getting better for now I am able to write about what hurts. It was not a problem writing about my pets, that was one of my escapes, but writing about my feelings is different. I had hoped that I was stronger, that by now I would be more in control. Although I was warned by my cousins who have gone through losses of their own that it would take much longer, somehow I did not believe that. My apologies dear cousins, you were right and I was wrong.
I am trying to build up my strength once more. I am still working very hard on my book, but sometimes a strong restlessness attacks me when I least expect it. Especially in the evenings, and worse still when the lights go out. At least I am getting my generator installed next week, maybe that would help.
The Holy month of Ramadan has been very revealing to me, I have discovered my fragility, have acknowledged it and am starting to cope with it.